A Study of Students’ Perception of Computer Education: Lack of Interest in STEM Fields for Female Students

By Sarbani Banerjee and Ramona R. Santa Maria.

Published by The Technology Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Computer technology is ubiquitous in today’s society, however a consistent mitigating factor that influences a lack of interest in computer education is gender. The literature suggests that there are still disproportionate numbers of female students enrolled in advanced computer science classes. Scholars speculate that one reason for this absence is the perception that the computer field is reserved exclusively for men. While this idea is ultimately false, the countless quantitative and qualitative studies document that the computer field is associated with the reoccurring image of “nerdy computer scientist”. Prior researchers have shown several factors for low recruitment or lack of interest of female students in computer related majors, such as: 1) women perceive computer-related majors as a male-dominated discipline and therefore shy away from those areas; 2) certain social biases or stereotyping of technology is for men; and 3) a person’s culture has the greatest influence on technology acquisition and where families’ ethnic culture is male dominated, women’s interest in technology is often not fostered or reinforced. This research study evaluates perceptions of students in an Introductory Computer course from the Computer Information Systems department at Buffalo State College. This is an elective course, students are mostly in their first or second year of college, and the majority of students reported that they have not declared a STEM field as their major. A 36-question survey was administered for data collection purposes—the survey including both qualitative and quantitative questions. A review of this data indicates some of the factors for students’ interest in STEM fields and other unexpected outcomes.

Keywords: STEM, Computer Education, Gender and Technology, Student Perceptions

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp.93-106. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 360.505KB).

Dr. Sarbani Banerjee

Associate Professor, Computer Information Systems Department, Buffalo, NY, USA

Professor Banerjee received her Ph.D. in education with a concentration in educational statistics and M.S. in computer science and an Ed.M. in educational statistics, all from the University at Buffalo. She has received her master’s degree in English from Jadavpur University, Calcutta, India. She has a variety of teaching and technology experiences.

Dr. Ramona R. Santa Maria

Assistant Professor, Computer Information Systems Department, Buffalo, NY, USA

Ramona R. Santa Maria, has taught within the Computer Information Systems Department at Buffalo State College (SUNY) since 1999. An assistant professor, she holds a PhD. in social foundations from the University at Buffalo with a concentration in critical and cultural studies of information technology. An award winning teacher, her research interests include the social impacts of technology for women and minorities, and classroom technology integration. Santa Maria, lives in Buffalo, NY with husband Chris, and son Lorenzo.

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