members study gender inequities in IT field
Women are the minority
among those who enter information technology programs as first-year
students, and they are much more likely to drop out than their
male classmates. Two faculty members from RITs B. Thomas
Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences are exploring
this troubling trend.
Henderson, left, and Elizabeth Lawley are leading RIT's study
into gender issues in information technology.
The National Science
Foundation is funding the work by Elizabeth Lane Lawley and Tona
Henderson through a grant valued at nearly $325,000. Their two-year
study will focus on undergraduate women in IT departments.
Lawley and Henderson
are conducting a qualitative study of women who entered RITs
IT program this fall. The students will be interviewed at various
points of the academic year to identify factors relating to their
persistence or attrition. They also will develop a questionnaire
for faculty and students intended to identify the presence and
influence of those factors in academic departments. The questionnaire
will be administered to women entering IT departments across the
United States in order to determine whether the RIT findings are
comparable to those at other institutions.
The goal of the
study would be not only to answer these questions, explains
Lawley, but also to develop recommendations for IT program
recruiting, curricula and student support, based on those answers.
RIT has made
a major commitment to addressing retention problems, and institutional
support for research on this topic is strong, says Henderson.
More information on
the project is available at http://women.it.rit.edu.