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This document has been archived.

NSF Press Release


NSF PR 00-13 - March 23, 2000

Media contact:

 Tom Garritano

 (703) 292-8070

Program contact:

 Caroline Wardle

 (703) 292-8980

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

NSF Emphasizes Research into the Information Technology Workforce
Focus is on women and minorities in IT professions

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced today that it will support new research addressing the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the information technology workforce (ITW). This emphasis responds to a documented shortage of qualified IT professionals among these groups, which contributes to an overall gap of IT workers nationally.

NSF will support research of technical, social, and workplace issues related to the ITW. The President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) has concluded that U.S. leadership in IT is threatened unless a steady supply of new professionals can be attracted to careers in computer and information science and engineering.

"The underrepresentation of women and minorities in the IT workforce is a serious national problem," said Ruzena Bajcsy, leader of NSF's Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorate (CISE). "Some of the nation's leading researchers and scientists agree that systematic research efforts are needed to address this problem."

ITW awards will range from $75,000 to $250,000 per year, for up to three years. NSF will fund between 15 and 25 proposals in fiscal year 2000. Full proposals are due on June 22, 2000.

The special emphasis on ITW research addresses the following broad themes:

  • Environment and Culture. How environment, culture and other social contexts (such as households, neighborhoods, communities) shape interest in IT, and how interest in and use of IT shapes this environment. Particular emphasis will be on developmental issues at different ages;
  • IT Educational Continuum. Understanding how the educational environment influences students' progress from grade school to entry into the workforce, and why students with potential to succeed in IT often take educational paths that preclude them from entering the ITW;
  • IT Workplace. Why women and minorities with potential to succeed in the ITW take alternative career paths, what barriers and obstacles they must overcome, and how increased retention and advancement of women and minorities can be achieved.

Research projects will address how IT education and career choices of women and minorities are influenced by access to technology, by popular culture and by quality-of-life issues (e.g., stress, long days and lack of social interaction in the workplace), among other questions. Multidisciplinary studies will examine fields such as engineering, medicine and law to seek successful strategies for attracting and retaining women and minorities to IT careers.

"NSF is committed to encouraging activities that will contribute significantly to increasing female and minority participation in IT," according to Caroline Wardle, deputy director of the NSF Division of Experimental and Integrative Activities.

For more information about the ITW special emphasis, see:




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