Where Have All the Women Gone? Occupational Retention and Exit Among Computer Science Degree Holders

Sharon Sassler , Cornell University
Kristin Smith, University of New Hampshire
Katherine Michelmore, Syracuse University

The need for STEM workers is projected to grow at or above the national growth rate over the next decade (U.S. Commerce Department 2012). Governments have focused much attention on increasing the presence of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. Although women’s representation in STEM employment has increased significantly over the past few decades, their presence remains low in fields such as engineering and computer science. Using the National Science Foundation’s Scientists & Engineers Statistical Data System (SESTAT), this paper explores the occupational choice of men and women who majored in Computer Science. We focus on whether those graduating with degrees in computer science work in computer science or other occupations, further distinguishing between jobs in STEM or non-STEM fields, and assess the factors shaping retention or exit from STEM employment. Preliminary results reveal that retention in computer science varies in important ways by gender, race/ethnicity/nativity, and graduation cohort.

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 Presented in Session 48. Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Labor Markets