research tidbit


I've been reviewing information about the students my colleague and I interviewed last year, and have found some interesting things. Keep in mind that we were working with a small sample--there were only ten women in the entering IT class last year, and eleven CS women. That makes it hard to generalize from our findings, but does give us some interesting avenues to pursue in terms of our larger survey project this spring.

Of the ten IT women interviewed, three changed programs during the first year. One transferred to Travel and Tourism, one into a transitional decision-making program and then into International Business, and one into CS. The student who transferred to CS has not enrolled for any classes since completing her freshman year.

Of the eleven CS women interviewed, four changed programs--two into IT, one into Biotechnology, and one into Sign Language Interpreting. In addition, one woman has not enrolled at RIT since completing her freshman year, and another changed from the CS BS degree program to the CS AS degree program during her sophomore year.

By comparison, none of the ten (randomly selected from a pool of 200) IT men we interviewed changed programs during their first two years. However, two of them took leaves of absence at the beginning of their sophomore years, and another was suspended and has not returned to classes.


How many men did you interview?

I read a Norwegian study a while ago which found that in their sample, most of the women who ended up completing a computer science degree actually transferred *into* CS after taking a single class in programming and discovering that they really enjoyed it. The author concluded that women tend not to think they'll enjoy or be able to be programmers or computer scientists from the start, but will often get really interested if they start small and discover they can do it. I wonder if that's typical in the US, too? It sounds as though your results are almost the opposite?

Whoops! I'll add the number of men--it was ten, randomly selected from the 200 in the freshman class last year.

We do tend to have transfers into the program, which we'll factor in when we do our analysis this summer. Our research was focused on women entering as freshmen, to find out why we lose them.

I would be interested to see what the numbers look like for CS/IT crossovers for both genders and all 4-5 years. I've personally switched between the two three different times now (I'll graduate when I'm good and ready!) and know plenty others who have gone from one to the other. It would be interesting to see how CS to IT switching compares to IT to CS switching; anecdotal evidence suggests that IT is receiving more transfers, but it's likely that I just don't know the people moving to CS.

Any idea what the male/female ratios are for students leaving other major programs? I wonder if part of it is a matter of changing your mind being more acceptable for female students. I've seen more than a few young men under presure froma parents (especially fathers) to continue on a given path even though the student's interests have changed.
I've also seen crossovers from CS to IT among all students at the schools I visit BTW. I think some of that is driven by a desire for a career in industry rahter than research.

Brock and Alfred, those are numbers I plan to request from institutional research this week; I'll let you know what I find out.

Hi! I'm just learning about blogging in a workshop at Greenbush. Dr. Kelly Woestman is our teacher and she really knows her stuff. Now all I have to do is use my new knowledge enough to remember it. This is fun!

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