Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Women's proportional representation in university Computer Science (CS) programs in Canada has been declining. This study set out to (1) provide a clear picture of the recent research into women and computing education and work; (2) develop a model based on past research and the theoretical perspectives of dual-systems theory, social closure, and social control; (3) assess the impact of social controls on women's education and work choices through interviews with computer workers; and (4) compare the trends in computer education and work over time. This study finds support for theories of social closure and control: interviews show that, over time, factors vary in their influences on women's computing career choices. The increasing status of computing work, the broadening applications of computing, the growing shortage of workers, and the narrow entry into CS affect beliefs about computing. Respondents' belief in myths that computing careers involve very little human interaction, and that women lack the kind of curiosity required of a computer scientist, stopped many from entering CS. The encouragement of mathematics teachers, and gaining computer-related experiences positively influence women to study computing. The alternative route to computing through a non-technical job shows that gaining computer experience even in the workplace can influence women making career choices. Women's proportions are increasing in non-university computer education as women's proportions in CS have been declining. Women taking alternative routes to computing careers tend to work in the less technical occupations, and are segregated by sex within high technology industries. They are more likely to work part-time, are clustered in lower paying specialties, and earn less income than men. The income gap is small and narrowing for women with high computer skills. Despite the benefits of high skill computer work, women are increasingly preparing themselves for medium and lower skill computing work through non-university education.
Dryburgh, Heather, "Women and computer science: Alternative routes to computing careers" (2000). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2669.