Communications of the Association for Information Systems


The declining proportion of women in the IT profession contributes to the shortage of IT professionals and potentially has a detrimental effect on the success of design projects. However, we do not fully understand why that decrease is happening. Some studies have utilized a construct called stereotype threat to explain why women are rejecting IT as a profession. Others have claimed that the results of stereotype threat apply only in computer science programs housed in engineering schools. This study tests whether stereotype threat exists in an MIS program in a college of business and, if so, how it affects women’s confidence in their ability and motivation to continue their IT education. The results show no support for the stereotype threat hypothesis. Further analysis, however, shows that positive, supportive messages have more effect on these women than do the negative messages. Thus, while stereotype threat has been a successful model for explaining the behavior of women in the sciences, mathematics, and computer science, it does not appear to explain the decreases in the number of women in MIS programs in business schools. A discussion of the aspects of MIS programs that may attract women and possible ways to increase women are provided.