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- 1. Alli Travis
AmSt 522 Research Proposal
- 2. Idaho Big Labor Pool Small Talent Pool
The state of Idaho is currently experiencing record unemployment. Yet, despite a large labor pool of applicants to pick from, technology related businesses are having trouble finding qualified individuals to fill their voided positions. The amount of experienced, specialized high-tech workers is dismal, which could hurt Idaho's ability to compete nationally and globally in a booming field. "In 2009, the computer programming field generating an estimated 395 job openings in Idaho, yet the state produced only 24 graduates in the field." Likewise, the information technology field opened up roughly 929 positions and had only 162 graduates to fill those spots (Sewell 2).
Even more astounding than the low overall number of Idahoan's in the technology field is the extremely small proportion of women involved. Women leaders in the field of technology are few and far between in the state of Idaho. In fact, the Idaho Technology Council and the Idaho Innovation Council have a combined six women out of a group of fifty-four council and board members.
- 3. So What?
This is where my curious mind wants to know more
Why is there such a lack of women studying/interested in technology in Idaho?
What social, cultural, and economic factors play in to this lack of female representation?
- 4. Research Questions
What social, cultural and economic factors inhibit or create possibilities for computer access by young women in southern Idahoand how does this affect the development of their future careers in technology related fields?
What is the male to female ratio of Idaho students pursuing careers in IT and computer science and how can any large gap between genders be explained?
- 5. Sub-Questions
I came up with a number of sub-questions stemming from my two main research questions:
What opportunities do women have for access to computers?
What are the family norms surrounding children/teen computer use, and how does this differ between genders?
How does the Idaho school system delegate computer access and the types of programs being used by students?
What emphasis are being placed on math and science in the school system? Are males being led towards these disciplines more than females?
Is use of the computer considered to be masculine or feminine?
Does this inhibit one gender in any way?
- 6. Sub-Questions Cont.
How is womens access to the computer VALUED.what types of access (or lack of access) have they had to technology in the past?
What are the social/cultural structures surrounding females and their use of the computer?
What social constraints might exist that cause women to stay away from computers related careers?
What are women interested in studying? Is computer science/IT appealing for women? Why or why not?
- 7. Partnerships
Will pursue a relationship with other Idaho organizations that might be interested in helping enhance and conduct the study:
Girls in Tech, Boise sector
Girls in Tech is focused on the engagement, education, and empowerment of like-minded, professional, intelligent and influential women in technology working on the collaboration, promotion, growth, and success of women in the technology sector.
Idaho Technology Council
Connects, informs and promotes tech companies in Idaho and seeks to foster the growth of technology companies in the state
- 8. Methodologies
To gain a broad understanding of general questions regarding access (at home and in the education system), social norms and personal preferences
Face to face interviews (75)
To attain further feedback on why women feel the way they do about technology and what might have lead them to that point
Focus groups of 10-15
To collectively brainstorm
- 9. Survey
High school seniors
Idaho State Department of Education for permission and location assignments
Available colleges: College of S. Idaho, Boise State, Idaho State, Northwest Nazarene University, College of Idaho
Approximately 200 surveys from each group
- 10. Survey College Map
- 11. Survey
General background questions (gender, income, education)
Exposure to technology throughout youth
Opportunities for use and skill development
In school and in the home
Promotion of technology related careers in ones life
Comfort level with media technology skills
Identify reasons for lack of computer exposure, if any
Social norms surrounding use and consumption
Thoughts towards technology and desire to study it
- 12. Face to Face Interviews
Approximately 50 interviews
College upperclassmen ages 22-25
Find out how they ended up choosing their career path, why they chose it, what factors in their life contributed to this decision
More computer specific questions regarding:
Exposure, access and usage
Career growth opportunities
- 13. Focus Groups
Groups of 10-15 individuals
High school seniors, college upperclassmen
Personal feelings and cultural norms surrounding computer usage
Exposure throughout different life phases
Home, school, work
Encouragement/discouragement of computer access
Personal interests in computers (why or why not)
Difference of interests between genders and why
- 14. Literature Review
AAUW Educational Foundation, First. Tech-Savvy:Educating Girls in the New Computer Age . Washington, D.C.: American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, 2000.
This book recognizes that computers are now part of the everyday classroom and seeks to understand how they can be used to enhance teaching and learning in ways that promote female involvement. The main themes of the book address the reservations girls have about the computer culture, the concerns teachers having using technology in the classroom, and causes for concern in regards to females current participation in the computer realm through the lenses of education, economics and culture. This book will serve as a great starting point for my research to gain some background on classroom culture surrounding women and computers and to understand where (on a broad scale) women lie in the computer participation spectrum.
Battey, Daniel, et al. Professional Development for Teachers on Gender Equity in the Sciences: Initiating the Conversation. Teachers College Record 109.1 (2007): 221-243. America: History & Life. EBSCO. Web. 15 Nov. 2010.
This article examines a study conducted during 1993-2001 which showed that professional development projects for schoolteachers fell short of effectively addressing gender inequity in the classroom, particularly in relation to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. What seemed to be significantly lacking from teachers in their ability to present technical content to girls effectively. Understanding how the school system prevents females from obtaining the same type of exposure to technology as men receive will be helpful in examining how this affects women throughout their education and careers.
- 15. Literature Review Cont.
Blum, Lenore, and Carole Frieze. The Evolving Culture of Computing. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 26.1 (2005): 110-115. America: History & Life. EBSCO. Web. 15 Nov. 2010.
The authors of this article state that most students of gender and computer science have been conducted in gender-imbalanced environments. To combat this, researchers make suggestions to help close these significant gender differences. One such method of heightening the female interest in computers and technology described in the article saw the number of women entering computer science majors at Carnegie Mellon increase nearly fivefold in only four years. Understanding what types of programs draw females to become more interested in computers will help us to understand what qualities of current educational and social systems are lacking that keep women from further exposure to computers.
Dunbar-Hester, Christina. Beyond Dudecore? Challenging Gendered and Raced Technologies Through Media Activism. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 54:1 (2010): 121-135.
This article follows a group of media activists whose work foregrounds communication technologies and technical practice. These activists attempt to transform the media system by broadening access to technology and skills, with the intent for technological engagement to be compatible with a range of social identities. Specifically, they promote hands-on work with technology
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