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This document has been archived.

NSF Press Release


NSF PR 00-40 - June 7, 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 Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.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 Workshops Report on Underrepresentation of Women and Minorities in Information Technology

The National Science Foundation has released a pair of reports summarizing recent "virtual workshops" that sought causes of and potential solutions to the underrepresentation of women and minorities in information technology (IT).

Unlike other workshops, these were conducted entirely via the Internet, using web-based tools for interaction among participants. Partially in response to issues raised by the Fall 1999 sessions, NSF in March announced a special funding emphasis on IT Workforce (ITW) research.

"The reports identify a number of areas in which further study is needed to understand factors affecting whether women and minorities pursue careers in IT," said Ruzena Bajcsy, head of the NSF Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). "The workshops also addressed factors that determine whether -- once having chosen IT careers -- women and minorities decide to stay on that path or move on to other fields."

With the Internet having emerged as a major economic force, the U.S. faces a shortfall of qualified IT professionals. The need for computer scientists, computer engineers and system analysts is expected to double for the period 1996 to 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which projects only 14-percent growth for all other jobs.

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Census Bureau, women represent 46 percent of the total workforce but only 30 percent of the IT workforce. Blacks fill five percent of the same jobs, while making up more than 12 percent of the U.S. population. Nearly 12 percent of the population is Hispanic, but that group makes up less than 5 percent of the IT workforce.

The workshop on minorities was led by Oscar Garcia, the NCR Distinguished Professor and chair of computer science and engineering at Wright State University in Ohio. This report suggests that research be conducted in areas that affect minorities in IT, including:

  • access to computers and networks
  • the connection between long-term education and short-term training
  • mentoring programs for minority students at all levels
  • standardized assessments of education and training programs
  • implications of distance education for minority participation in IT

The workshop on women was led by Doris Carver, professor of computer science at Louisiana State University. Research topics identified by this report include:

  • learning styles, teaching styles, and tools that prompt women to enter IT
  • the impact of computer games on girls' career choices
  • the role of social expectations in education and career choices of girls and women
  • computer science curricula in high schools, two-year and four-year colleges
  • efforts to attract and retain women in the IT workforce

"Conducting workshops on-line allows input from the broadest possible range of participants," said Caroline Wardle, ITW program manager. "Because the discussions occur via the web, we also have a detailed archive to go along with the summary reports prepared by our workshop leaders."

For full text of the reports and archived discussions from the workshops, see: and




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