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Virginia Tech Researchers Identify Influences In IT Career Choices for Women

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Virginia Tech Researchers Identify Influences In IT Career Choices for Women

BLACKSBURG, Va.
A team of researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University have identified five factors that influence women’s informational technology (IT) career choices. One of those factors appears to be race. Many female IT professionals tend to be minorities.

With more than $882,000 in funding by the National Science Foundation, the statewide project, “Women in Information Technology: Pivotal Transitions from School to Careers,” evaluates the impact of family, peers, school and community on womens’ perceptions of IT careers.
The researchers also noted that women in IT:

– Perceive that their parents support this career choice, with the mother being particularly influential;

– Started using computers at an early age, for a variety of communication and information purposes. Unlike their male peers, they typically didn’t use computers for video game purposes;

– Have a positive view of IT professionals and tend not to think of a computer-related career as only for “nerds” or “geeks;” and

– Did not discuss career options with a variety of people. In fact, those who sought more information were least likely to choose IT careers.

The results are a culmination of four years of research by Drs. Carol Burger, director of the Science and Gender Equity Program; Elizabeth Creamer, associate professor in the School of Education; and Peggy S. Meszaros, director of the Center for Information Technology Impacts on Children, Youth and Families.

Using a Path Analysis Model, the researchers determined these influencing factors after conducting telephone interviews and surveys with 1,026 girls and women across the state of Virginia. The sample was comprised of students at rural and urban high schools and a variety of community colleges and universities.

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“The results of this study will provide educators, policy makers and administrators with a major dissemination product,” says Meszaros. “Up until now, there have been no career resources for women that have considered the simultaneous impact of numerous factors on career interest in IT.”



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