Psychological Framework for IT Education

Psychological Framework for IT Education

Janice A. Grackin (State University of New York at Stony Brook, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-935-9.ch004
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The most recent U.S. national statistics available indicate that among those earning degrees in engineering in 2000-2001, women made up only 18% of bachelor’s degrees, 21% of master’s degrees, and 17% of doctorates (NCES, 2003). A similar pattern emerges among those earning degrees in computer and information sciences, with women awarded only 28% of bachelor’s degrees, 34% of master’s degrees, and 18% of doctorates in those areas in 2000-2001 (NCES, 2003). These and related statistics suggest a continuing gender imbalance in engineering and computer and information science education, academic pathways that lead to careers which are among those traditionally accorded higher prestige and greater financial reward than traditionally “female” occupations (Kennelly, Misra, & Karides, 1999). The situation is particularly dire in computer and information science education. According to testimony at a recent congressional hearing, although the proportion of computer science graduates who were women increased steadily from 14% in 1972 to 37% in 1984, from 1984 to 2000 those numbers began to steadily decline again and are currently at less than 28% (Borrego, 2002). If computer and information technology education draws only from the 49% of the population which is male, the resulting gender imbalance is bound to translate into a shortage of trained IT personnel to fill existing positions. The aging IT workforce means that employers will need to fill not only new positions but those vacated by retiring personnel over the next twenty years (Jackson, 2004). The sheer number of technical professional positions to be filled now and in the foreseeable future makes it imperative that we tap the entire pool of young talent through early implementation of formal and informal strategies that encourage girls and young women to develop technical interests and skills and to enter technical training and post-secondary computer and information science education programs.

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