Crystal City, Virginia
April 29, 2018
April 29, 2018
May 2, 2018
Diversity and Gender
As part of an ongoing three-year study, we surveyed women in high school and college. At two points in time, 523 women answered survey questions based on Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT), a widely used vocational model which assesses the constructs of Interest in Computing, Confidence in Computing, and perceived Social Supports and Barriers. The second survey also asked about college major and post-graduate employment. Our analyses compared persisters in computer science and related technology fields to those who did not persist in these fields. We found significant differences between groups (with persisters having higher scores) on all three measures, and these differences widened over time. For both groups, computing interest decreased from high school to college, regardless of major, but tech majors’ interest decreased less than did non-majors and can be explained by their move into subspecialties. Not surprisingly, computing confidence increased for persisters but decreased for non-persisters. Perceived support for computing from teachers, family and friends for both groups remained stable between high school and college, regardless of major, although persisters perceived significantly more support for computing than did non-persisters. Another important finding was that high schoolers’ responses to a single survey item about intent to persist predicted later persistence moderately well. Seventy-two percent of those students who said in high school that they were interested in pursuing a CS or tech-related college major did so during college. Thus, we learned that for many girls, plans about future area of study remain relatively constant from high school to college. This finding has implications for improving how we evaluate interventions aimed at high school women when longitudinal tracking is impractical. The SCCT-related findings suggest which constructs are important to try to influence in students early on and timing interventions for the greatest impact on broadening participation in technology fields.
Weston, T. J., & DuBow, W., & Kaminsky, A. (2018, April), Women in Computing and Engineering: Differences between Persisters and Nonpersisters Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia. https://peer.asee.org/29595
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