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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.671 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Imprimer: 1072-8325
ISSN En ligne: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2011002913
pages 173-192

CAPITALIZING ON OPPORTUNITY OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM: EXPLORING SUPPORTS AND BARRIERS TO THE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES OF COMPUTER SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING MAJORS

Jonathan M. Holland
Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 23529, USA
Debra A. Major
Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 23529, USA
Valerie Morganson
University of West Florida
Karin A. Orvis
Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 23529, USAl

RÉSUMÉ

The underrepresentation of women and minorities in computer science and engineering is well documented, as are the challenges that students pursuing these majors face. Complementing the research on how engineering and computer science students cope with challenges, this qualitative study investigated how students capitalize on development opportunities outside of the classroom. Capitalization is defined as proactively and voluntarily seeking out positive opportunities for growth and development. To investigate this construct in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics context, male and female students were recruited from the computer science and engineering departments of a primarily white institution (PWI) and a historically black university (HBU). A total of sixty-two students participating in eight focus groups discussed opportunities for capitalization, as well as supports for and barriers to participating in those opportunities. Results revealed that students engage in formal and informal capitalization activities for intrinsic and extrinsic reasons. Moreover, they perceive a variety of factors that facilitate or constrain engagement in such activities. Similarities and differences between men and women, computer science and engineering majors, and the PWI and HBU were observed. Notably, women perceived their gender underrepresentation as a barrier to capitalization. However, gender appeared to be less of a barrier at the HBU, which offered several supports for capitalization. Qualitative findings are discussed in terms of their implications for future research and interventions.


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