How to Retain Women in High Tech Fields

In 1985, 37 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in computer science went to women. In 2011, only 18 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in computer science were awarded to women. The conventional wisdom is that work-family conflict and women’s lack of confidence in pursuing degrees in STEM disciplines are the main reasons for the low numbers of women in technology-related fields.

Dr. Riemenschneider

Dr. Riemenschneider

But new research by Cindy Riemenschneider, professor of information systems and associate dean for research and faculty development at the business school of Baylor University, and Deborah Armstrong, an associate professor at Florida State University, finds that employers have been focusing on the wrong challenges facing women in the informational technology field.  Professors Riemenschneider and Armstrong found that occupational culture and informal social networks at IT firms are what need to be addressed if women are to ever feel welcome in IT. The research found that mentoring and co-ed social activities among employees can be helpful.

“We have to look deeper into the areas that really need to be addressed,” Professor Riemenschneider said. “Employers need to be proactive to help employees at whatever stage, to keep them within the company, so they can move up the corporate ladder. They need to recognize that employees need different opportunities for different stages of their careers.”

The study, “The Barriers Facing Women in the Information Technology Profession,” may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/StudySTEM Fields


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply