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The Career Development Of Women Executives In Information Technology

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Women in IT Fields

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1264.1 - 10.1264.23



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Paper Authors

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Steven P. Thomas

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The Career Development of Women Executives in Information Technology Rose Mary Wentling, Steven P. Thomas University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


This paper will report the results of a study on the career development and aspirations of women in executive level positions in information technology. The major method of this research study was the individual case study. Case studies relied on in-depth telephone interviews with a sample of 25 women in executive level positions in IT in 25 Fortune 500 companies. The study provided an insight into the perception of women executives working in information technology (IT), and their role in this fast-growing technological area. The study examined the educational and career paths that the women took to reach their executive level positions. This study provided a better understanding of why women entered the field of information technology and what their experiences have been. The study examined the barriers that hindered and the factors that assisted the women in achieving executive level positions. In addition, it looked into the career goals and aspirations of the women executives. Furthermore, this study obtained an in- depth understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by the women in their educational programs and as they moved up the career ladder to executive level positions.


The U.S. Department of Commerce projects that by 2006, 50 percent of all U.S. workers will be women, and that 44 percent of the U.S. workforce will be employed by industries that are engaged in producing or using information technology products and services (DeVoe, 19989; Newton, 200138). This is not surprising given that information technology accounted for more than a third of the nation’s real economic growth from 1995 to 1997 (U.S. Department of Commerce, 199947). In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 137,800 new jobs in information technology (IT) occupations have been and will be produced each year from 1996 to 2006 (U.S. Department of Commerce, 199947). Adding to this problem is the fact that these occupations are experiencing a significant labor market shortage, while at the same time not attracting female participants at the same rate as in earlier decades (Camp, 19977). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2003)46, the “core” IT occupations include: computer scientists, computer engineers, systems analysts and computer programmers. Workers in IT occupations design, manufacture, operate, repair, and maintain the IT infrastructure. The job options in the information technology field can be numerous and can lead to different levels of career growth.

Female participation in the IT occupations has varied up to a high of approximately 35% in the early 1990s. From 1990 to 2003, the number of people in IT occupations has more than doubled and the female participation has dropped to approximately 27% (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 200346). This decline in female participation has caused concern, not only because of the low

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Thomas, S. P. (2005, June), The Career Development Of Women Executives In Information Technology Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14325

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015