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ERIC Number: EJ807709
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 76
ISSN: ISSN-1547-9714
Changing Mental Models of the IT Professions: A Theoretical Framework
Agosto, Denise E.; Gasson, Susan; Atwood, Michael
Journal of Information Technology Education, v7 p205-221 2008
It is widely recognized that the current and projected shortage of adequately-educated IT professionals could be greatly reduced if more female and minority students would major in IT disciplines, yet the dramatic under-representation of these populations appears to be worsening. This under-representation is reflected in Drexel University's College of Information Science & Technology's undergraduate IT programs, which currently average just 9.7% female enrollment and just 9.7% non-Asian minority (Black, Hispanic, and Native American) enrollment. As an initial step in working toward redressing this under-representation, the authors present a theoretical framework for increasing marginalized students' (women and minorities) participation in the study of IT. The Changing Mental Models Framework builds on existing gender and IT research, applying research findings to the practical realm of students' everyday lives. Most studies of why women avoid IT have demonstrated that females who are making career choices care a lot about "solving problems" and much less about "technology." Studies of minority students' career decision-making have developed similar conclusions. The Framework proposes that universities partner with local schools and business organizations to demonstrate that IT careers are directly tied to solving real-life problems and to show female and minority students real IT professionals at work, solving real problems that affect "real people like them". The Framework includes four distinct components: "mentoring", "social cohesion and peer support", "role modeling", "and curriculum redesign". The article includes a detailed literature review of research relating to each of these four areas. The Framework focuses on fostering positive and diverse mental models of IT careers and IT professionals. This goal is significant because female and minority students tend to view IT careers and the people who work in computing-related jobs as overridingly white, male, and technology-focused. Consequently, these student populations require active and ongoing mentoring, social support, role modeling, and curriculum redesign to help them understand that they possess similar qualities to IT professionals and managers, and that these career paths are open to them and to others like them. The next step in this process of working to increase female and minority IT enrollment and academic success will be to implement the proposed Framework and to monitor its effects on IT recruitment and retention. It is only through proactive social support measures such as the Framework proposed here that we can bring under-represented female and minority populations more equally into the IT world. (Contains 2 tables and 1 figure.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania