Insider perspectives vs. public perceptions of ICT: Toward policy for enhancing female student participation in academic pathways to professional careers in ICT
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This article reports findings of a national online survey of Australian women employed in Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-related careers. The Women in ICT Industry Survey was the culminating stage of a larger Australian Research Council Linkage Grant project investigating factors associated with low and declining female participation rates in professional-level ICT pathways. The survey comprised a mix of forced-choice and open-ended short-response items, and was completed by 272 Australian women. Application of K-means cluster analysis to forced-choice item responses revealed three discrete groupings of female ICT professionals. Overall, respondents reported that their ICT career was rewarding, provided opportunities and challenges, and was beneficial to society. Respondents generally disagreed with Queensland high school girls' perceptions that ICT is boring, sedentary, and not relevant to their future career directions. They also disagreed that the industry fits the prevailing negative stereotype of being populated by 'geeks' and 'nerds'. Divergent opinions centered mainly around participants' confidence in their own technical ability, whether they would encourage young women to enter the ICT industry, and how they perceived and responded to industrial issues of equality and management approachability. These findings support suggestions for a range of policy and curriculum initiatives designed to enable more positive experiences of computing in school, and to optimize ICT career pathways in tandem with furthering wider educational ends.
Policy Futures in Education
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Psychology not elsewhere classified