Gender Differences in Education and Training in the IT Workforce

Gender Differences in Education and Training in the IT Workforce

Pascale Carayon (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA), Peter Hoonakker (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA) and Jen Schoepke (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch083
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Historically, women have had lower levels of educational attainment (Freeman, 2004; NCES, 1999), which in turn could negatively affect their opportunities in the labor market. However, in the past decade, this has changed dramatically. In general, more women have completed college, and more women have received bachelor’s and master’s degrees than men. Only in the highest level of education (PhD), men hold more degrees than women (NCES, 1999, 2002). In a recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Freeman (2004) presents an overview of the latest developments with regard to gender differences in educational attainment. Historically, females have tended to account for the majority of bachelor’s degrees in fields that often lead to lower paying occupations, such as education and health professions, while males have typically predominated in higher paying fields, such as computer science and engineering. While some of these disparities persist, many changes have occurred since the 1970s. Certain fields in which men received the majority of degrees in the 1970s, such as social sciences, history, psychology, biological sciences/life sciences, and business management and administrative services, attained relative gender parity or were disproportionately female by 2001. While other fields, such as computer and information sciences, physical sciences and science technologies, and engineering, continue to have a larger proportion of males, the percentages of females majoring in those fields is increasing (Freeman, 2004). Between 1970 and 2001, the percentages of master’s, doctoral and first-professional degrees earned by females increased substantially in many fields. However, advanced degrees conferred still tend to follow traditional patterns, with women accounting for the majority of master’s and doctor’s degree recipients in education and health, and men accounting for the majority of recipients in computer and information sciences and engineering. Higher levels of educational attainment are associated with certain labor market outcomes, such as higher labor force participation rates, higher rates of employment, and higher earnings (Freeman, 2004). A study by Igbaria, Parasuraman and Greenhaus (1997) looked at gender differences in the information technology (IT) work force with regard to education and experience, career history and attainments and career orientation. The results showed significant differences in educational attainment. A larger percentage of female IT employees in the study ended their formal education after attaining a bachelor’s degree.

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