The " Women in Information Technology: Pivotal Transitions from School to Careers" project is gathering primary research data for K-12 and university educators, policy makers, and administrators about those pivotal transition points in girls' lives that result in their positive or negative view of information technology as a viable career choice. It is gathering new information about how the total environment - at the high school, community college, and university levels, both inside and outside the school -- helps shape girls' perceptions of technology as friendly or unfriendly to them. It will document longitudinally the impact of family, peers, school, and community on girls' perceptions of IT careers; examine the key transition points in girls' experiences with technology; and determine how the choice of a nontraditional career is associated with the development of self-authorship.
The project combines standard interview and survey techniques within the theoretical framework of self-authorship. Methods include a pre- and post-survey; individual interviews; small group interviews; a videotape documentary and case studies of the longitudinal development of girls' career transitions and choices; and group activities using computer programs to stimulate girls' interest in and understanding of IT careers. A set of IT careers workshops are planned as an incentive for participating students and parents, as another data collection point, and as a model for IT career exploration.
The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration among faculty with expertise in the areas of gender and science, quantitative and qualitative research methods in the social sciences, and information technology impacts on children, youth, and families. Dr. Marcia Baxter Magolda, leading expert in the study of how college students' and young adults' self-authorship effects their learning capacity, will act as an advisor for this project. The other advisors include a former school principal and superintendent, evaluation and data analysis expert, educational technology expert, state technology workforce director, and a communications researcher.