The purpose of my research has evolved as I have been extensively reading the literature about gender inequality in computing. From my literature review, I found a large number of studies were done in the late 1990s, which has made it a challenge to find recent studies. I want to investigate the reasons why so few females study computing and pursue computing careers compared to males. Understanding college students’ perceptions about computing may help me identify strategies to help close the gender gap.
To answer my research questions, I plan to do a descriptive quantitative study by using a survey instrument with Pace’s student population. I’m currently trying to find a survey that has already been validated, but I may be expected to create my own survey. The survey instrument should help me answer my three research questions. The three research questions are the following:
RQ1: What experiences do students have related to computing?
RQ2: How do student experiences relate to whether or not
they have pursued a computing major?
RQ3: How does gender relate to students’ interest in pursuing a
My advisor, Dr. Feather-Gannon, and I will be collaborating on this research project during this academic year. Dr. Feather-Gannon will be providing guidance so that I can map the survey questions to my three research questions. We meet every two weeks via Skype or in person to work on the research project.
I have been thoroughly engaged in a review of the literature on the topic of gender inequality in general and gender inequality in computing. I also created a structured interview guide to use for individual interviews and piloted it by interviewing one of the potential participants. The interview presented a challenge, because the interviewee strayed from the questions posed. I found that interviewing was more difficult than anticipated. After piloting the interview guide, I adjusted the possible research design to a descriptive quantitative study with a potentially large sample and a survey instrument.
I am in the process of finding a survey that has already been validated, but I may have to create my own survey. One source that I will explore is the Mental Measurements Yearbook, which describes a variety of survey instruments. I have also written an email to contact the president of the Association for Women in Computing (AWC) to see if she might share their membership database from which I may be able to get participants for my study.
The literature review has provided me with a lot of information about the lack of women in computing and informed me about research that has already been done. A lot of the research is not very recent, but I am still finding more literature and have established that gender inequality in computing still persists. I’ve learned a lot over the summer about designing and conducting a study.
I plan to conduct an investigation focused on gender inequality in computing and strategies to encourage more females to pursue computer science. Furthermore, the research will investigate possible factors contributing to the decline of females in both the computing classroom and working environment. Although there is increased participation of females receiving education at universities, few females are graduating with a degree in computer science. Despite increased opportunities for jobs in this industry, “. . . more boys [still] choose computer science at school or as [a] professional field than girls” (Funke, Berges, & Hubwieser, 2016, p. 14).
I will be interviewing female and male computer science students and females who are working in computing-related fields to gain a better understanding of their perspectives on this specific issue. The interview responses will help me answer my research questions. I am also doing an extensive review of the literature related to gender inequality in computing. My research questions are the following:
RQ1 What factors contribute to females not pursuing computer science careers?
RQ2 What strategies may help promote gender equality in the computing classroom?
RQ3 What strategies might motivate females to remain in the computing field?
Dr. Feather-Gannon and I have been meeting every two weeks to design this research study and complete the beginning stages. The results of the study may inspire upcoming female students to become more involved in computing and pursue careers in technology-related fields.
Funke, A., Berges, M., & Hubwieser, P. (2016). Different Perceptions of Computer Science. 2016 International Conference on Learning and Teaching in Computing and Engineering (LaTICE). doi:10.1109/latice.2016.1