Title: Gender within the IT major – a retrospective study of factors that lead students to select an IT major

Authors: David Roach, Ronald E. McGaughey, James P. Downey

Addresses: Corley Building, Arkansas Tech University, Russellville, AR 72801, USA. ' College of Business, University of Central Arkansas, 201 Donaghey Dr., Conway, AR 72035, USA. ' College of Business, University of Central Arkansas, 201 Donaghey Dr., Conway, AR 72035, USA

Abstract: Though the job market for information technology (IT) related skills remains strong, many students, especially females, avoid IT majors. This study identifies four major influences on students| choice of major: social influences, interesting work, extrinsic rewards, and cognitive beliefs (computer self-efficacy and anxiety). Surveying over 200 IT students from four universities in the USA, this study examines the relative importance of these factors for males and females. While findings suggest many similar influences for male and female IT majors, men were more influenced by the technology itself and women by social factors. In addition, women had significantly lower computer self-efficacy and higher computer anxiety than men. The conclusions of this research suggest that colleges, employers, and others interested in enrolment in IT majors, and especially female enrolment, focus on enhancing awareness of the field as well as reaching students in high school and in the early years of college.

Keywords: information technology; communications technology; ICT; management information systems; computer science; careers; college majors; computer self-efficacy; computer anxiety; gender; higher education; job markets; skills; female students; student choices; social influences; interesting work; extrinsic rewards; cognitive beliefs; USA; United States; male students; men; women; employers; student enrolment; high schools; secondary education; business information systems.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBIS.2011.038509

International Journal of Business Information Systems, 2011 Vol.7 No.2, pp.149 - 165

Available online: 10 Feb 2011 *

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