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Barriers To Overcome: Women In Information Technology

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



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Page Numbers

6.232.1 - 6.232.10

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Roli Varma

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

Session 3592

Barriers to Overcome: Women in Information Technology

Roli Varma

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque


Women are under-represented in information technology (IT) disciplines, similar to physical sciences and engineering. With the rapid growth of IT and its profound impact on productivity and national economy, tremendous career opportunities in IT have emerged over the last few years. Furthermore, there is a shortage of IT workers, with the U.S. depending upon foreign workers to address the growing workforce needs. The gender equity in IT is critical not only for women, but also for the American society increasingly dependent on IT. In this paper, I examine the reasons for under-representation of women in IT-related disciplines in institutions of higher education.

1. Introduction

The use of IT has been having a profound impact on the productivity, globalization, and growth of the U.S. economy. Since 1995, IT appears to have contributed between 33% and 50% of the acceleration of productivity12. IT is also viewed as having contributed to the country’s structural shift to a service economy19. IT has led to growth in demand for labor as well as overall skill upgrading in the workplace2. The Bureau of Labor Statistics7 has projected that between 1998 and 2008, the number of IT related jobs will grow over 100%, exceeding an overall job growth of 14%. Jobs for computer scientists and engineers are expected to increase from 914,000 in 1998 to 1,858,000 in 2008, while employment for computer system analysts is expected to grow from 617,000 to almost 1.2 million jobs for the same time period27.

Employers are making it a priority to hire more women to fill IT vacancies in their organizations. However, meeting their goals for hiring women has generally proven difficult. A common complaint among recruiters is inability to find sufficient numbers of women to fill IT positions in their organizations. While women have made great strides in attaining college and university degrees and moving into professions once dominated almost entirely by men (e.g., medicine, law, and business), their participation rates in IT still lag far behind those of males. For instance, women account for more than half of social scientists and almost 40% of biological scientists, but only 28% of computer and information scientists27. Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright@2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Varma, R. (2001, June), Barriers To Overcome: Women In Information Technology Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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