Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Gender Differences and Intra-Gender Differences Amongst Management Information Systems Students

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Gender Differences and Intra-Gender Differences Amongst Management Information Systems Students

Article excerpt


The goal of this paper is to contribute to our understanding of women's underrepresentation in MIS by investigating if male and female students in MIS courses differ in social psychological variables, such as values, beliefs, and computer self-efficacy, that affect choice of major, persistence, and course performance. A major contribution of this research is that in addition to gender (1) differences it investigates intra-gender differences, i.e., differences between female MIS majors and female non-majors enrolled in MIS courses. Rather than assuming that female MIS majors are different from male MIS majors, this paper examines whether in some respects female MIS majors are more similar to male majors than female non-majors. Before explaining my approach in more detail, I will address the significance of women's underrepresentation in MIS.

1.1 Women's Underrepresentation in MIS

Although the representation of women is closer to parity in MIS than in other Information Technology (IT) majors such as Computer Science (CS), currently only 33.2% of Bachelor's degrees in MIS are conferred on women (U.S. Department of Education, 2006). This restricts the number of women qualified to enter the MIS workforce. The pipeline of women majoring in MIS needs to widen to increase the number of women working in MIS-related fields. Women's underrepresentation in MIS should be of concern for several reasons. The most pragmatic reason is a potential labor shortage problem as IT is projected to experience rapid growth through 2014 (Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology, 2006). Tapping women as an underutilized resource could alleviate this shortage. Secondly, the underrepresentation of women raises ethical issues of fairness and equal access. If MIS is inhospitable to women, this would have implications for women's economic progress, as careers in MIS are much more lucrative than female-dominated occupations (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2004). Last, but not least, the field itself misses an important opportunity to utilize women's skills, creative talents, marketplace understanding, and perspectives, thereby decreasing the likelihood for producing truly innovative new designs and products. Under some conditions diverse groups produce more creative and effective solutions to problems than homogeneous groups do (Mannix & Neale, 2005; McLeod, Lobel, & Cox, 1996).

1.2 Scarcity of Research on Women in MIS

There is a substantial literature on female undergraduate CS majors (e.g., Beyer, DeKeuster, Walter, Colar, & Holcomb, 2005; Beyer & Haller, 2006; Beyer, Rynes, Perrault, Hay, & Haller, 2003). Some researchers have argued that applied IT fields, such as MIS, may be more female-friendly than more technical or abstract fields such as CS (Ahuja, Ogan, Herring, & Robinson, 2006). The inherent differences in the two fields and the differences in the psychological make-up of female and male students in MIS compared to CS coupled with the different atmospheres encountered in a highly technical vs. business-oriented field might present different challenges for women in CS versus MIS. Indeed, the reasons for the underrepresentation of women differ by IT discipline (Beyer, 2006; Beyer, & DeKeuster, 2006). Thus, generalizations from research findings on women in CS to women in MIS or vice versa may be inappropriate and may lead to erroneous conclusions.

The literature on gender issues in MIS is scant and focuses on women in the MIS workforce rather than gender issues in MIS education. For example, Ahuja (2002) pointed out the obstacles (e.g., lack of role models and mentors, work-family conflict) women in IT careers face. Although the career experiences, job satisfaction, and job turnover rates of male and female MIS professionals are similar (Sumner & Niederman, 2002; Sumner & Werner, 2001), men were rated as more promotable than women by their supervisors, even though there were no differences in job performance ratings of male and female employees (Igbaria & Baroudi, 1995). …

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