"You don't have to be a white male that was learning how to program since he was five:" Computer Use and Interest From Childhood to a Computing Degree
3:45 PM - 4:10 PM
Fri Mar 1, 2019
Hyatt: Great Lakes A1 & A2 (4th floor)


Margolis and Fisher's book, Unlocking the Clubhouse (UTC), has long been regarded as seminal to the understanding of the lack of gender diversity in computing. This book found that boys and girls had different experiences with computers in the home and school environment, and that these different experiences had a direct impact on the desire of students to study computing. We wanted to know if the explanations Margolis and Fisher found were applicable for students in a more typical CS program in 2017, so we conducted a study to investigate the home and pre-college experiences of students who are currently majoring in CS or Computer Engineering (CE), and these students' pathway into computing majors. We recruited 11 participants from a large public institution in the Midwest U.S., and conducted interviews of these students using a protocol adapted from UTC. We performed a qualitative iterative and inductive analysis of these interviews and found that while technology access had greatly improved, views and attitudes were much slower to change. We discovered that fathers preferentially teaching sons about computing, while less prevalent than it was in UTC, still occurs. We also found that the participants, including the women, had more diverse pathways into computing than what Margolis and Fisher found. This suggests that UTC needs to be fully replicated at broad range of institutions to get a more complete picture of the multitude of pathways women use to enter into computing careers.

Mathilde Collain Université Clermont-Auvergne
Deborah Trytten Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma

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