Women's history, attitudes, and life experiences with computing
- It is widely acknowledged that women are underrepresented in computing. A number of solutions have been developed to try to solve this problem, particularly the introduction of camps and clubs designed to appeal to middle and high school girls in the hopes of increasing their interest in computing and computing careers. However, there is little evidence of the efficacy of these interventions and even less research into the long-term effects of short-term programs. Recently the "CSForAll" initiative and new Advanced Placement Computer Science course have provided opportunities for increased school-based computer science, but these initiatives are too new for longitudinal results. This dissertation provides some insight into the factors associated with women's long-term interest in computing careers by investigating two populations: girls who had attended a middle school where computer science courses were mandatory, and women who had achieved computing careers. The first paper reports on an initial survey of girls at the end of eighth grade. Approximately one-third of the participants were open to a computing career. While all participants described computer scientists similarly, the "CS Career" group saw themselves as more similar to this description, and also indicated higher interest and confidence in computing. The second paper is a longitudinal follow up with the same participants at the end of high school. Participants who had been open to computing careers in middle school demonstrated increased interest and positive attitudes towards computing as compared to their middle school responses. They were more likely to have programming as a hobby than their "No CS Career" peers, but otherwise did not engage in substantially more computing activities while in high school, suggesting a disconnect between attitudes and activities. The third paper is an interview study of working female computer scientists, investigating their paths to their careers and what they think the typical path to a computing career looks like. These women had commonly engaged in early computing activities such as classes, clubs, or independent learning. Frequently they had not engaged in computing in high school, but had returned to it in college, often choosing computer science as a major. They identified two typical paths: majoring in computer science and having a "single track mind" in which one is born with talent and interest in computing. The single track mind was seen as a masculine path and none of the participants identified similarities between her own experience and that path. Together these studies suggest the importance of early computing experience on career interest. While not all girls who engage in computing will become interested, for those who have early experience, once they are captured, the interest seems resilient despite a lack of high school computing experiences.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Stanford University, Graduate School of Education.
|Statement of responsibility
|Submitted to the Graduate School of Education.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2016.
- © 2016 by Michelle Friend
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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