Orientation of undergraduates toward careers in the computer and information sciences: Gender, self-efficacy and social support

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Researchers have been working to understand the factors that may be contributing to low rates of participation by women and other minorities in the computer and information sciences (CIS). We describe a multivariate investigation of male and female university students' orientation to CIS careers. We focus on the roles of self-efficacy and peer-based social support as social-cognitive variables in the students' learning process. We explore these variables and their impact on career orientation through a set of overlapping regression models. In general, we find that strong social support and high self-efficacy are associated with strong orientation toward careers in CIS careers. However the influences of perceived self-efficacy and social support appear to differ for men and women: while low self-efficacy is tied to less social support for males, we see no similar tendency for females. In fact many females who report themselves as low in self-efficacy consider themselves to have high social support among their peers. We discuss the implications of our findings for programs aimed at outreach to both males and females regarding CIS education and careers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14
JournalACM Transactions on Computing Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Education

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