June 16, 2002
June 16, 2002
June 19, 2002
7.105.1 - 7.105.7
Main Menu Session #261
A Shortage of Technology Job Candidates and an Abundance of Women in the Workplace: Why the Dilemma?
Beverly Davis Purdue University
Despite the feeling that women’s entrance into the workplace has been for the better, the economic status of women in the workplace remains lower than that of men (13). Recent evidence shows that the gender gap in earnings is increasing after a period of decline (13). This gap is partly due to workers in female- dominated occupations being paid lower average wages than workers in male-dominated occupations. J. A. Jacobs found that the most common explanation for occupational sex segregation is that women choose different occupations because they are socialized to prefer different types of work from men (10). Sex-role socialization plays a crucial role in the reproduction of gender inequality in the workplace (10). The American Association of University Women (AAUW) shared a recent study that concurred with these findings and found the girls they surveyed were not told directly they were not competent in technology and were not deterred from taking computer classes, however, they felt there were subtle messages that deterred them (1). And this disturbing trend continues through college and leads to the increasing gender gap in workplace earnings. The aforementioned AAUW study discovered when girls were asked to describe a person good with computers; a majority of those interviewed described a man. In a 1997 survey of 652 college-bound high school seniors in Silicon Valley, Boston and Austin, Texas, 50% of both male and female students said that the field of computer science was geared toward men (15). Yet, Prism (2000) recently reported that at least 800,000 Programming and Information Technology jobs could not be filled for lack of candidates (14). Unfortunately, the industry has failed to tap into 50% of the workforce: women. Prism reported that only about 20% of IT Professionals are women and in 1996-1997 only 33% of undergraduate degrees in computer and information sciences were awarded to women. Prism (2001) also reported that there are plenty of women in the general workforce, however, they do not have the technical skills to thrive in the new technology-driven economy (11). The article warned that facing this shortage of workers means the nation cannot remain competitive in the global marketplace. This topic will be explored in depth and suggestions and recommendations will be offered.
I. Women and the Workplace
Women have influenced workforce trends drastically in recent years. For example, in the United States, the labor force participation rate for women (i.e., the proportion of all adult women who were employed or seeking employment) increased from 43% in 1970 to 60% in 1998 (13). However, during the same period of time, the labor force participation rate for men decreased from 80% to 74%. As a result, the proportion of women in the labor force (i.e., the proportion of all adults employed or seeking employment who were women) increased from 38% in 1970 to 46% in 1998. There have been similar trends reported in other countries. And interestingly enough, 87% of women surveyed felt that the presence of women in the workplace has been a change for the better and 78% of men surveyed agreed (18). But where are women working today? And are they catching up economically with the men in the workplace?
Despite the feeling that women’s entrance into the workplace has been for the better, the economic status of women in the workplace remains lower than that of men (13). Recent evidence shows that the gender gap in earnings is increasing after a period of decline (13). This gap is partly due to workers in female- dominated occupations being paid lower average wages than workers in male-dominated occupations. The most common explanation for occupational sex segregation is that women choose different occupations because they are socialized to prefer different types of work from men (10). Girls who are encouraged to play with baby dolls and learn to take care of others may become elementary school teachers and nurses while boys who play with building blocks may become engineers (10). Author, J.A. Jacobs reported that occupational aspirations of young men and women are roughly as segregated as the occupational structure. Therefore, this author concludes, many believe that sex-role socialization plays a crucial role in the reproduction of gender inequality in the workplace (10).
Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ã 2002 American Society for Engineering Education
Davis, B. (2002, June), A Shortage Of Technology Job Candidates And An Abundance Of Women In The Workplace: Why The Dilemma? Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10905
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