Making of a Homogeneous IT Work Environment

Making of a Homogeneous IT Work Environment

Andrea H. Tapia (The Pennsylvania State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch136
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What is the responsibility of the information technology (IT) industry in addressing gender issues? Exploring recruitment and retention issues that exist for women are crucial for increasing the capacity and diversity of the IT profession. An understanding of the underlying causes of gender under representation in the IT profession is needed to develop effective workplace human resource strategies to attract and retain more of this underrepresented group. Unfortunately, while there is a documented need for a deeper understanding of the imbalance in this field, there is a lack of adequate data, methods and theory to provide a basis for explanation and prediction. Despite numerous efforts to recruit and retain women into both educational programs in IT and the IT workforce, these efforts have largely proved unsuccessful. Women remain acutely underrepresented at the higher-paying professional and managerial levels (National Science Foundation, 2000; National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, 2001-2002; Annenberg Public Policy Center, 2001; ITAA, 2003; Geewax, 2000; Spender, 1997). While women now represent a significant proportion of the labor force, they continue to be underrepresented in the IT workforce. Women have made few gains in employment numbers in the sector between 1996 and 2002. The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) (2003) reported that the percentage of women in the overall IT workforce actually dropped from 41% to 34.9%. The underrepresentation of women in the IT workforce can be attributed to a “pipeline” issue. Women earn significantly fewer undergraduate degrees in computer science and engineering than their representation in the United States (U.S.) population. (Camp, 1997; Freeman & Aspray, 1999; U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2002).

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