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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.504 SNIP: 0.671 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2019024384
pages 119-145

FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE RETENTION OF WOMEN IN THE COMPUTER SCIENCE MAJOR: A SYSTEMATIC LITERATURE REVIEW

Katarina Pantic
Utah State University, Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences, 2830 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322-2830
Jody Clarke-Midura
Utah State University, Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences, 2830 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322-2830

ABSTRACT

In the United States, underrepresentation of women in computer science (CS) is a matter of national concern. It is a twofold problem consisting of two distinct challenges, the problem of retention and the problem of recruitment. Unfortunately, these two are frequently researched and described under the same umbrella of underrepresentation even though they are not caused or prevented by the same factors. This paper focuses on making sense of the existing literature on retention of US women in CS, independently from recruitment, with a goal of identifying key factors influencing retention. To that end, we summarize and synthesize literature on retention, to separate the body of knowledge gathered on retention from recruitment. Next, we thematically analyze the research and create a model for retention of US women in CS using Tinto's model of institutional departure. From this model, and based on literature reviewed in the process, we show that the process of retention of US women in CS relies on three different types of factors: individual (pre-arrival), institutional, and societal factors, all of which are not equally represented in literature. These, however, are not isolated one from the other but act in interplay on women's commitment to the program. We conclude with recommendations for furthering understanding of retention.


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