How are women faring in the information technology (IT) industry? Researchers from the Radcliffe Public Policy Center (RPPC) will address that question during a three-year study – funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) – of women working in IT. RPPC will partner with the Massachusetts Software and Internet Council (MSIC) to study employees in its member firms, using cutting-edge Internet-based survey technology in addition to field interviews. The project will establish the nation’s first systematic research database concerning workers in the IT industry.
“While we know the important role that the IT industry has on our economy, it is imperative that we look at whether women are able to have full access to and substantive involvement in new technologies,” RPPC Director Paula Rayman said. “We are extremely gratified that the NSF has chosen us to examine these very important issues,” she added.
The project will explore issues such as economic security, job stability, and career pathways of IT workers; the way work is organized in IT; the impact of temporary, part-time, and contract work on women in IT; and evaluation, training, and reward structures in IT. The analysis of the data will inform the direction of future research and policy.
The first stage will run through August 2003, and will investigate factors affecting the attraction, retention, and promotion of women in IT by comparing female and male professionals who work in software and Internet companies.
The project team includes principal investigator Rayman and research project director Leslie Cintron, and Radcliffe Institute fellows Jane Fountain, Sarah Kuhn, and Nance Goldstein. The advisory board for the project includes Lewis Branscomb, professor emeritus at the Kennedy School of Government; Allan Fisher, professor of computer science at Carnegie-Mellon University; Mary Good, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Barbara Grosz, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science; Joyce Plotkin, president of the MSIC (ex officio); and Lillian Wu, research scientist at the Thomas J. Watson Research Laboratory at IBM.
The Radcliffe Public Policy Center works to engage women and men in understanding and informing policy on important economic, social, and political questions. By bringing together different constituencies – including policy-makers, scholars, labor and business people, and representatives of the media and grassroots organizations – the center creates new ways of thinking about significant societal issues.
For more information about the study, contact Leslie Cintron at (617) 496-3478 or visit http://www.radcliffe.edu/pubpol/projects/womenIT.html.