Introducing the Computer-Related Self-Concept: A New Approach to Investigate Gender Differences in Computing Careers

Introducing the Computer-Related Self-Concept: A New Approach to Investigate Gender Differences in Computing Careers

Monique Janneck (Luebeck University of Applied Sciences, Germany), Sylvie Vincent-Höper (University of Hamburg, Germany) and Jasmin Ehrhardt (University of Hamburg, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8933-4.ch004
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The number of women in STEM fields, especially in computer science, is still very low. Therefore, in this chapter, the computer-related self-concept (CSC) is presented as a new approach to investigate gender differences in computing careers. The computer-related self-concept comprises computer-related attitudes, emotions, and behaviors, integrating different lines of research on computer-related self-cognitions. To establish connections with career development, an extensive online survey was conducted with more than 1100 male and female computing professionals. Results show that men have a significantly more positive computer-related self-concept than women. Furthermore, as hypothesized, the computer-related self-concept shows high correlations with career motivation. Therefore, it is concluded that the computer-related self-concept is a feasible approach to investigate and understand computer-related gender differences. Possible implications regarding measures to foster women's careers in computing are discussed along with prospects for future research.
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A person’s self-concept is usually understood as representation of all of his / her self-referred attitudes and is seen as crucial determinant of human behavior. The self-concept is conceptualized as a multidimensional, hierarchical structure (Shavelson, Hubner, & Stanton, 1976). That means that the general self-concept is comprised of a multitude of specific self-referred cognitions which are related to different experiences and areas of life. An important aspect of the self-concept are so-called ability concepts, i.e. a person’s notions about his/her academic performance in a variety of fields (e.g. how well one does regarding mathematical or language skills). Ability concepts have an impact on academic performance (e.g. Guay, Marsh, & Boivin, 2003) as well as a person’s expectations for success in that field (see e.g. Eccles, Roeser, Wigfield, & Freedman-Doan, 2006) and might therefore also influence career development and success.

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