In an effort to better understand the underrepresentation of women within the IT profession, one promising line of investigation is the influence of factors in the socio-cultural environment. In order to examine this topic, we draw on data from a multi-year field study of women IT professionals in three regions of the U.S.: Massachusetts, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. We employ Trauth's (2000) conceptual framework of environmental influences on the development of a region's information economy to consider economic and cultural influences on women's recruitment and retention in the IT field. The findings reveal a range of influences and a wide variety of responses to them. The contribution of this research to theoretical understanding is twofold. First, we demonstrate that socio-cultural factors serve as both barriers to and facilitators of women's recruitment and retention in the IT profession. This suggests the need for investigations of not just women themselves, but also of the societal environments within which they grow up, live and work. Second, we demonstrate that there is not one unilateral set of environment factors that can explain women's under-representation. Rather, a combination of differing regional influences and individual responses to them is in evidence. This finding of variability both among environmental influences and among women's responses to them provides empirical support for ongoing theory development efforts regarding the role of individual differences in explaining women's under-representation in IT.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Management Information Systems
- Computer Networks and Communications