Journal of the Midwest Association for Information Systems (JMWAIS)


Information Technology has never been more pervasive and accessible, yet decreasing female participation in the field (and the variety of reported causes) presents a ‘wicked problem’ for IT educators and professionals. In this article, we suggest that female students’ decision-making is adversely impacted by an inaccurate, shared understanding of IT. Subsequently, the problem of low female participation in IT requires a practical, collaborative solution. Employing an abductive research approach, we undertook a qualitative, exploratory study of female-only schools in Ireland using the #MakeITWork programme. During this multi-phased programme, we conducted (i) focus groups to explore female students’ perception of IT undergraduate degree programmes and careers; (ii) knowledge exchange (KX) sessions to communicate IT degree and career opportunities; and (iii) a survey to assess the efficacy of the approach in changing perceptions. Data analysis revealed that a new accurate shared mental model (SMM) was needed to support female students’ education decisions. This facilitated theory development with respect to female students’ decision to pursue IT education and careers. Study findings indicate that while attitudes towards IT careers are largely outdated, these views can be changed through a collaborative intervention workshop approach. This can be achieved through greater stakeholder collaboration and better quality information available via novel formats.




Open Materials badge