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“We’re sheep in the lion’s den. Let’s teach the lions not to eat the sheep. Not that we’re really sheep. ” [female undergrad CS]. Gender & IT Education. Community, Space, and Support:. Keys to People-Friendly Gender Climates? Principle Investigator: Jean C. Robinson.

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slide1

“We’re sheep in the lion’s den. Let’s teach the lions not to eat the sheep. Not that we’re really sheep. ”

[female undergrad CS]

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

community space and support

Gender & IT

Education

Community, Space, and Support:

Keys to People-Friendly

Gender Climates?

Principle Investigator: Jean C. Robinson

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

research questions
Research Questions
  • Do special programs and institutional structures create a more women-friendly environment for students?
  • To what extent do students recognize the value of these programs and institutional structures?
  • Are applied IT fields more successful than computer science in establishing more women-friendly climates?

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

background
BACKGROUND
  • What are factors in creating women-friendly CS/IT fields?
    • More women faculty (Margolis & Fisher, 2002; Roberts et. al, 2002; Cuny & Aspray, 2002)
    • Support groups and networking (Gabbert & Meeker, 2002)
    • Mentoring and role models (Townsend, 2002; Ogan 2007)
    • Changing gendered stereotypes (Hanks, 2007; Lagesen, 2007; Herring & Marken, 2007)

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

national support systems
National Support Systems
  • National Organizations
    • ACM (14% F)
    • ASIS, AECT,SIGMIS no gender data
  • Women on Editorial Boards of Major Journals
  • Women’s Caucuses
    • (33 national organizations)
  • Recruitment & Retention Programs
    • 23+ different sources for grants, fellowships

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

university support systems
University Support Systems

Information collected 2005

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

departmental contexts
Departmental Contexts

One Measure of Women-Friendliness: Percentage of Women Faculty, 2005

*Informatics disbanded at Buffalo 2006

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

methods
Methods
  • How to measure student recognition of and receptivity to women-friendly climates (without asking?)
  • Analyze student responses to:
    • If you could change three things about your program, what would they be?
    • If everything in your program was going to be changed, except three things, what would you keep?
    • Describe something that happened in the program that made you feel valued.

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

what matters beyond good teachers curriculum
What Matters: Beyond good teachers & curriculum

Other responses in descending order: Institutional recognition (awards & scholarships), group work, involvement in volunteering/ hosting/recruiting; self-efficacy; representing students.

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

findings
Findings
  • Recognition by faculty
    • cited most often as an instance of feeling valued
    • strongest for all women (41% of women) and especially strong for non-CS graduate students (51%), both male and female
  • Recognition varies from nominating for internships/summer jobs, asking to be a TA, or faculty just talking with students and remembering their name

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

physical space
Physical space
  • Second highest in frequency
    • Mentioned by far more women than men, more CS female than other groups; more important for grads.
    • Natural lighting & comfortable lounges; places to work and feel safe 24/7

“The Center is its own little island; its own little community and it gives it a completely different atmosphere. There’s people in [the] Center 24 hours a day. You walk in; it’s never going to be empty. It’s a continuously-living environment and that kind of a feeling you won’t get anywhere else. it’s really nice.” Fem. CS ug

“Whenever you have students that are more focused on who has the office space versus their research, then it’s not good. Like they’re worried about where are they’re going to work instead of working. [short laugh] And also there’s just no space for kind of, sit around and talk.” Fem CS PhD student.

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

importance of community
Importance of community
  • Third highest frequency among women; 2nd among men
  • Especially important to CS women grads
  • Described as collegiality, working together, keeping doors open, access to faculty, collaborative, socializing, decreased competition.

“It’s all about the people.” Male CS PhD student

“Many of the students and faculty believe it’s very important to have a sense of community. So I would definitely keep that, the sense of community.” Female CS PhD Student

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

women friendly strategies
Women-Friendly Strategies

Percentage of Subjects Citing Women-Friendly Strategies as Important or Valued

Women’s groups combined answers coded: WIC or WIS; Climate for women; women’s options in CS/INFOR; positive about female faculty; female recruitment positive; diversity programming positive.

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

women s groups
Women’s Groups
  • CS women are most articulate about need for women’s support groups, need for women faculty, support for diversity programming
  • Indeed only CS women talked about the importance of women’s groups and about criticism about women’s support systems.
  • “Having that is like the best resource for our freshmen … just because it automatically gives them a place they can go and say, “Hey, there are more people here like me that are going to face the same problems with the guys that I’m going to face,” and it gives them a nice little place to go and meet other people. And when there are only about 20 other women in our department, it’s an easy way to meet all of them. Female CS ug

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

slide15

Students who were involved in women’s programs were also strongly supportive of these programs and simultaneously (or consequentially) more aware of “woman-unfriendly” characteristics among their peers or within the department.

“ [We need] more support groups, more acknowledgment. [X] doesn’t really do anything to support women, it’s kind of just an afterthought or if they want publicity they’ll do something and it’s really disappointing.” Female CS MA student

“I mean, if we just had women in our organization, we’d have like 10 people, because half of the women … don’t want to do it. [We say to guys] “We definitely want you to join because we want more people,” and besides, it’s not just our concern. Guys in our department want to see more girls here, too. They’re tired of being in classes that are like 95% male, so it’s a good way to get them to join, too. “ Female CS ug

Gender ad IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

the view from within non cs programs
The view from within non-CS programs
  • Non-CS women mention the need for more women faculty, but did not mention women’s support groups

“Maybe more women in it? Maybe more women teachers. Um, I mean that would help the female side of it.” Female non-CS ug

Indeed in our interviews, the women in applied fields do not seem to be concerned about gender as a problem. Instead women talked about many of the same kinds of issues that men did– group work, collaboration, good faculty advisors, space issues, capstones, pathways, faculty support.

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

discussion
Discussion
  • We hypothesized that non-CS programs would have more gender-friendly climates.
  • CS departments seem to have more active participation in women’s support organizations and more programming for women than in many applied programs. This programming is often defined as creating more women-friendliness.
  • Hanks (2007) finds that CS are consistently low in the numbers of women. Our findings suggest that CS women are more likely than non-CS women to express support for women’s groups, for hiring more women faculty, for special programs for women. This is the institutional response to the lack of a critical mass.

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

critical mass people friendliness
Critical Mass & People-Friendliness
  • In the absence of gender-related comments by students, can we conclude that applied units have solved the problem?
  • One response might be that the applied fields have reached a critical mass of women (>15%) so these issues are less important or indeed disappear. In CS, because the numbers are few, such programming is more critical and gains more attention from students.
  • For applied fields, where critical mass may have been reached, issues like pleasing and safe spaces in which to work, community-building, opportunities for group work, and most importantly faculty recognition may be the non-gendered strategies for people-friendliness.

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

sources
Sources

Cuny, J. & Aspray, W. (2002) “Recruitment and Retention of Women Graduate Students in Compiuter Science & Engineering: Results of a Workshop Organized by CRA,” SIGSCE Bulletin 34(2): 168-174

Gabbert, P. & Meeker, P. H. (2002) “Support Communities for Women in Computing,” SIGSCE Bulletin 34(2): 62-22

Hanks, K. (2007) “What Do IT Program Websites Reveal about Woman Friendliness?,” ITWF

Herring, S.C. & Marken, J. (2007) “Gender Consciousness of IT Students,“ ITWF

Lagesen, V.A. (2007) “The Strength of Numbers: Strategies to Include Women into Computer Science.” Social Studies of Science 37(1): 67-92

Margolis, J. & Fisher, A. (2002) Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing Boston: The MIT Press.

Ogan, C. (2007) “The Only Person who cares: Misperceptions of Mentoring Among Faculty and Students in IT Programs”, ITWF

Roberts, E. et. al, (2002) “Encouraging Women in Computer Science,” SIGSCE Bulletin 34(2):84-88

Townsend, G. C. (2002) “People who Make a Difference: Mentors and Role Models, “ SIGSCE Bulletin 34(2):57-62

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007

population interviewed
POPULATION INTERVIEWED

Gender and IT Education Conference, Indiana University, 2007