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A Multi Pronged Approach To Address The It Gender Gap

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Issues of Diversity

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.68.1 - 12.68.9



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Paper Authors

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Julie Mariga Purdue University


Alka Harriger Purdue University

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Alka Harriger joined the faculty of the Computer and Information Technology Department (CIT) in 1982 and is currently a Professor of CIT and Assistant Department Head. The CIT Department offers baccalaureate degrees in information technology. Additionally, CIT offers numerous service courses to the university in the areas of pc literacy and programming. Professor Harriger's current interests include reducing the IT gender gap, web application development, and service learning.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A multi-pronged approach to address the IT gender gap Abstract

In 2005, the National Science Foundation reported that the ongoing under-representation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workforce areas threatens the economic strength, national security, and well-being of Americans.1 The near-term impact in the IT arena is a serious shortage of IT expertise. This pervasive problem requires a multi-pronged solution to yield a positive, long-term result.

Faculty in the Computer and Information Technology (CIT) Department at Purdue University are employing a number of initiatives across all levels of the university to address this problem. Within the department, two female faculty are leading two separate, but complimentary initiatives. One faculty member is attending national meetings and conferences to gather ideas to bring back to Computer and Information Technology and network with other diversity leaders to ensure that Computer and Information Technology has representation on a national scale where gender issues are being discussed. The other faculty member is investigating the issue at the local level and working with various stakeholders to define solutions such as a departmental mentoring program. The stakeholders include members of the department’s industrial advisory board and successful (female) alumni.

This paper will describe the multi-pronged approach employed by Computer and Information Technology in more detail and share the positive and negative results of the activities undertaken by various groups. It will also provide the impact of these programs on each other.


It has been argued that if women in the information technology (IT) workforce were to equal the number of men, the critical shortage of IT workers would be non-existent.2 However, despite abundant career opportunities in IT, women are not preparing themselves for IT careers.3,4

“Where are Women and Girls in Science, Engineering, and Technology?” asks a July 2001 report released by The National Council for Research on Women.5 The proportion of women who earn bachelor's degrees from American colleges and universities has been increasing. The past two decades saw the implementation of a variety of programs that succeeded in attracting more women into the fields of science, engineering, and technology. However, the study also reported that much of the progress that women made in these areas had subsequently stalled or eroded. Of further concern is the National Science Foundation's recent publication describing 211 projects designed to attract and retain women and girls in science, engineering, and technology-related disciplines. More than more $90 million has been poured into these projects, and still the numbers of women are declining.6

Male/female attitudes toward science and technology begin to diverge as early as elementary and middle school and continue into high school. It is during this period that girls develop an understanding of what social roles are appropriate for them.7 They have reservations about the seemingly male “computer culture” as they watch boys utilizing computers for violent computer

Mariga, J., & Harriger, A. (2007, June), A Multi Pronged Approach To Address The It Gender Gap Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2020

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