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
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
This is where my curious mind wants to know
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?
What social, cultural and
economic factors inhibit or create
possibilities for computer access
by young women in southern
Idaho and how does this affect the
development of their future
careers in technology related
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?
I came up with a number of sub-questions
stemming from my two main research
What opportunities do women have for access
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?
How is women’s access to the computer
VALUED….what types of access (or lack
of access) have they had to technology in
What are the social/cultural structures
surrounding females and their use of the
What social constraints might exist that
cause women to stay away from
computers related careers?
What are women interested in studying?
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
Idaho Technology Council
Connects, informs and promotes tech companies in
Idaho and seeks to foster the growth of technology
companies in the state
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
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
General background questions (gender,
Exposure to technology throughout youth
Opportunities for use and skill
o In school and in the home
• Promotion of technology related careers in
o Comfort level with media technology skills
o Identify reasons for lack of computer
exposure, if any
Social norms surrounding use and
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
Groups of 10-15 individuals
High school seniors, college
Personal feelings and cultural norms
surrounding computer usage
Exposure throughout different life phases
Home, school, work
Encouragement/discouragement of computer
Personal interests in computers (why or why
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 female’s 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.
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 and
technological competence, which, as they claim, has evidently been shaped by
social structures that contribute to differences in familiarity and comfort with
Literature Review Cont.
Farmer, Lesley. Teen Girls and Technology: What’s the Problem, What's the
Solution?. Chicago, IL: American Library Assocation, 2008
In this book, Lesley Farmer examines the disconnect that many girls have with
technology and then tackles the almighty question of: how do we kick-start girls’
involvement with technology? By providing a framework that teachers and
parents can use to “empower girls to succeed in today’s technology-rich world”,
Farmer hopes to supply real-world techniques that actually work. She highlights
several after-school and fun learning activities that have been shown to increase
young women’s confidence and promote their interests in technology. This
information should be quite relevant in regards to analyzing the programs that
might be found within current school systems and looking at the ways they work
to promote female computer usage.
Fenwick, Tara. "What happens to the girls? gender, work and learning in Canada's
'new economy' 1." Gender & Education 16.2 (2004): 169-185. Academic Search
Complete. EBSCO. Web. 17 Nov. 2010.
This article studies the gender inequalities that exist in both access to and
experience of learning opportunities in Canada’s ‘New Economy’ that promotes
equal knowledge and work related learning opportunities. More relevant to this
study is the discussion on current provision for girls’ vocational education and the
gendered issues they face entering the labor market, including the ways in which
Literature Review Cont.
"Girls email their way into male internet culture." Times higher education
supplement. (1999): 6..
This short article describes the results of research done at Sheffield and
Loughborough universities regarding internet use in rural and urban schools. The
study claims that schools emphasizg the communicative aspects of information
technology are likely to attract more girls than those who do not. “Girls are much
more likely to be attracted to email than boys and can become interested in
computer programming from there.” With this increased interest in computers,
females are beginning to challenge the masculine stereotypes surrounding IT.
Imhanlahimi, E. O., and F. E. Eloebhose. "Problems and Prospects of Women
Access to Science and Technology Education in Nigeria." College Student
Journal 40.3 (2006): 583-587. Humanities International Index. EBSCO. Web. 17
This article highlights the importance of science and technology in the
development of nations by analyzing real life circumstances in Nigeria. In this
study, researchers found that Nigeria cannot achieve scientific and technological
growth without the full participation of women. Although historically women have
been held back in accessing technology, new trends are calling for the
importance of female participation in nation building to be recognized. Now, the
Literature Review Cont.
Jensen, Jennifer, Suzanne de Castell, and Mary Bryson. ““Girl Talk”: gender, equity
and identity discourses in a school-based computer culture.” Women’s Studies
International Forum 26:6 (2003): 561-573.
This article discusses a feminist intervention project in Canada focused on giving
females more equitable access to and use of computers. This project, conducted
at Brookwood Elementary School, allowed for the female students to develop
and experience new identities as technology ‘experts’ within their school. This
resulted in not only a significant increase in the participants knowledge of
technology, but also resulted in a shift in the way they talked about and voiced
their own gender identities with their teachers and peers. By the end of the
experience, participants had become more vocal about what they saw as gender-
biased practices conducted in the classroom and throughout the school. Their
new willingness to stand up against these inequitable practices ultimately created
“a more supportive climate for the advancement of gender equity beyond the
confines of its computer labs.” By no means do the authors claim to have found a
‘cure’ or ‘prescription for change’ regarding gender-biased school practices,
however, they identify the need for an understanding of the resiliency of this
standard and suggest one way of beginning to break down the traditional walls
that have been upheld for generations.
Literature Review Cont.
Kelan, Elisabeth. Performing Gender at Work. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan,
“The advent of new technologies is aid to change the world of work dramatically.
But is gender changing as well?” This book is a fresh perspective on the rapidly
changing relationship between gender and technology, which is constantly
shifting in regards to changing demographics, employee expectations and
business needs. Put together based on a research study of two companies in
Switzerland, the book challenges the reader to “think about the ways in which the
evolving economy shapes new gender inequities”, particularly within ICT work.
This book will have some great insight regarding new ways of thinking about how
gender is seen at work and how gender is done in contemporary high-tech fields.
Lupart, Judy, and Elizabeth Cannon. "Computers and Career Choices: Gender
Differences in Grades 7 and 10 Students." Gender Technology and Development
6.2 (2002): 233-248. Web. 17 Nov 2010.
This article looks into research that investigates the relationships between school
culture, socialization, ability, gender and values and the relative degree of
influence on adolescent student choice in courses, programs, and activities
(particularly related to math and science). By investigating this relationship, the
authors hope to understand why there is increasing evidence that there will not
be enough people with the necessary math and science expertise to keep up
with the ever-growing technologies of the world. The article then focuses on
gender, by grade, to compare several questions that pertain to computer interest
and usage and student choices concerning desirable career characteristics/future
careers. This will be useful to compare the career interests of girls in comparison
to those of males and evaluate what career qualities girls find appealing.
Literature Review Cont.
Miller, Paige, R. Sooryamoorthy, Meredith Anderson, Anthony Palackal, Wesley
Schrum. “Gender and Science in Developing Areas: Has the Internet Reduced
Inequality?” Social Science Quarterly 87 (2006): 679-689.
This paper examines the impact of the Internet and the research careers of
female scientists in three developing areas: Ghana, Kenya and Kerala, India.
Findings show that women are less likely to acquire advanced degrees, and are
more likely to experience “localism” in the educational and organizational realm.
This idea of localism places constraints on physical mobility which creates career
differentials between male and female professionals. Even though education and
Internet access has increased dramatically in these areas, without removing the
communication restraints caused by localism, women will still be held back in
progressing their careers forward.
Palackal, Anthony. "Gender Stratification and E-Science: Can the Internet
Circumvent Patrifocality?." New Infrastructure for Knowledge Production:
Understanding E-Science. 'Ed'. Christine Hine. Hershey: Idea Group Publishing,
This study investigates the degree to which the internet affects the constraints on
women pursuing scientific careers in the developing world. The authors address
this question by studying the way information and communication technologies
shape gender roles amongst professional scientists in India. After assessing the
extent to which women scientists have gained access to e-science technologies,
the authors conclude that internet connectivity is helping women scientists to
“circumvent, but not yet undermine, the patrifocal social structure that reduces
social capital and impedes career development.”
Literature Review Cont.
Sadker, David, Myra Sadker, and Karen Zittleman. Still Failing at Fairness: How Gender Bias Cheats Girls and
Boys in School and What We Can Do About It. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2009.
These authors work together to provide an in-depth look at how both the male and female educations are
compromised from elementary school through college. School practices, the authors claim, send boys and
girls down different life paths and often inhibit each gender from pursuing certain lines of study. Teaching
methods, current testing practices, and subtle cultural attitudes are all major players that inhibit both genders
of every race, class and ethnicity from receiving the same types of education influences. Taking a look at this
information can help us to gain a better understanding of where the inequalities stem from and the kinds of
treatment females receive that could inhibit them from getting the access to technology that would put them
on a equal playing field with males.
Sewell, Cynthia. "Idaho has a big labor pool, but a small talent pool. Idaho Statesman 06/03/2010.
This article discusses the current state of the technology field in Idaho and why there is a lack of students
graduating in the field.
Shrum, Wesley and Meredith Anderson. “Circumvention and Social Change: ICTs and the Discourse of
Empowerment.” Women’s Studies in Communication 30:2 (2007): 229-253.
In this essay, the authors use 10 years of experience gained while conducting research in south India to
present a theoretical interpretation of the impact of information and communication technologies in the
country. It dives into the social implications of the specific relationship between gender inequity and
information and communication technologies, “under conditions of patrifocality that characterize the Indian
subcontinent.” After taking into account the differences between the western definition of female
empowerment versus the type of empowerment available to women in less developed countries, the authors
provide a general comparison between the lives of women in India and those in western countries with
regards to technology. Taking their very different social structures into account, they look to interpret the
impact of these technologies on local practices of gender stratification.
Literature Review Cont.
Wajcman, Judy. TechnoFeminism. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2004.
This book claims technoscientific advances are overhauling the relationship
between women and machines. But instead arguing that the technologies
themselves are the cause of this shift, the author argues that feminist politics are
what is really making the difference. “Drawing on new perspectives in
postmodern feminist theory and science and technology studies, the author
explores the ways in which technologies are gendered both in design and in
use.” From that, she is able to combine the concepts of ‘cyberfeminism’ with the
gendered politics surrounding technology.
Yelland, Nicole and Andee Rubin, eds. Ghosts in the Machine: Women's Voices in
Research with Technology. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing, 2002. Print.
Written by women in four countries on three continents, Ghosts and the Machine
examines the relationship between gender and ICT and discusses the
“educational, social, artistic, and political implications of a feminine voice in the
design of technology.” It dives into the gendering of technology, exploring the
social context of the Internet, computer games, computer based designs and
digital art in an attempt to make women’s role in these technologies heard. In
what is sure to provide many interesting insights, this book will have a lot to offer
discussions on the feminization of technology and the gendering of IT.
Ties to Class Themes & Discussions
Characteristics of ‘networks’ and how that impacts they
way we live our lives and the economic organizations of
How media technology interacts with notions of power
Medias ability to transform cultures and our positions
within these cultures
Socio-economic factors inhibiting/constraining the
consumption of media technology
Much like New Media talks about, this project will look
into what factors inhibit/constrain the consumption of
media technology. Likewise, from interviews I hope to
pull out what types of feelings of empowerment (or
perhaps lack thereof) and control are felt by using
Ties to Class Themes & Discussions
The Cell Phone
We talked about how access to technology can
open up many doors for individuals it might not
normally open. I would like to see what kind of
opportunities exist for students in Idaho to access
computers and how this might later reflect their
decisions to pursue high-tech careers.
We talked a lot about how different people use
technology in different ways. I hope to explore what
difference might exist between genders regarding
computer usage and how these differences impact
future career choices.