Interventions and Solutions in Gender and IT

Document Type

Book Chapter

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The role of women in technology-related fields began with promising contributions from pioneers like Grace Hopper. In recent years, women have moved away from information technology (IT) fields, and the number of women selecting IT majors in universities continues to decline. Likewise, the number of women employed in the IT workforce remains low and declining. Researchers have recognized the problem and have investigated the many reasons for low participation of women in IT-related fields. Researchers have proposed various interventions to fill the pipeline and retain women in computing. In this chapter, we provide an overview of the current state of women in IT. We focus on girls and women at various life stages, from early education to the IT workplace. We also provide a discussion of the various methods and appropriate interventions that may be employed to encourage women to become empowered users of technology worldwide. We use a broad definition of IT, which includes computer science (CS), computer engineering, information systems (IS), information technology (IT), and related professional fields. By examining research from multiple technologyrelated fields, we gain a clearer picture of the many ways that women may participate in IT. Recent research on gender and IT has used an interdisciplinary approach, which has greatly expanded our potential for understanding why women decide not to pursue IT-related fields and how to implement appropriate interventions. Researchers from topics as diverse as IS, psychology, social sciences, education, and feminism, have taken a distinctive approach to understanding why women are not better represented in the IT workplace. We believe this broad, interdisciplinary approach has great potential to understand motivations for women pursuing IT-related careers. As Trauth & Niederman (2006, p. 8) said, “…the IT profession is challenged with meeting the demand to enlarge the IT workforce by recruiting and retaining personnel from historically underrepresented groups.” This chapter looks at women in IT, shedding light on one historically underrepresented group.