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Gender Differences in Factors Influencing Pursuit of Computer Science and Related Fields

Proceedings of the 20th ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, ACM (2015) (to appear)

Abstract

Increasing women’s participation in computer science is a critical workforce and equity concern. The technology industry has committed to reversing negative trends for women in computer science as well as engineering and information technology “computing” fields. Building on previously published research, this paper identifies factors that influence young women’s decisions to pursue computer science-related degrees and the ways in which these factors differ for young men. It is based on a survey of 1,739 high school students and recent college graduates. Results identified encouragement and exposure as the leading factors influencing this critical choice for women, while the influence of these factors is different for men. In particular, the influence of family is found to play a critical role in encouragement and exposure, and outreach efforts should focus on ways to engage parents.

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