CAREER VALUES AND MOTIVATIONS: A STUDY OF WOMEN IN THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY WORKFORCE

Open Access
Author:
Quesenberry, Jeria Lyn
Graduate Program:
Information Sciences and Technology
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
October 03, 2007
Committee Members:
  • Eileen M Trauth, Committee Chair
  • Lynette Marie Yarger, Committee Member
  • David J Hall, Committee Member
  • Mark Wardell, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • Women
  • gender
  • diversity
  • career values and motivations
  • IT workforce
  • IT profession
  • IS workforce
  • IS profession
  • individual differences of gender and IT
Abstract:
Despite the shortage of information technology (IT) professionals and the benefits of diversity in the global economy, women are largely under represented in the IT workforce. Prior research on gender stratification demonstrates that this under representation is a reflection of organizational and social structures, rather than essentialist generalizations about gender group characteristics. As a result, it is necessary to understand the characteristics of the IT workforce, and in particular, the opportunities and constraints that influence career choice and retention of IT professionals. Therefore, this research empirically investigated individual career anchors (or self-perceived values and career motives) and how these factors relate to career satisfaction and turnover intentions among women in the American IT workforce. This research employed an interpretive epistemological approach comprised of a preliminary methodological phase and an empirical methodological phase. The purpose of the preliminary phase was to identify initial themes through an in-depth literature survey and a qualitative analysis of an existing dataset. In this phase, emergent themes about career anchor manifestation, career anchor clusters and temporal characteristics about career anchors were identified. The purpose of the empirical phase, which served as the primary component of the research, was to further analyze and refine the themes identified in the previous phase through a quantitative investigation. In this phase, a career values and motivations questionnaire was developed and administered on-line with 210 women employed at four organizations in the American IT workforce. The research resulted in several findings. It was found that demographic characteristics do not have a relationship with career anchor alignment, whereas life experiences have a mixed relationship with career anchor alignment. Clear evidence of career anchor clusters was found. A factor analysis identified three career anchor clusters: organizational autonomy and entrepreneurship, problem solving competitiveness, and balancing career and personal life. In addition, evidence was found that career anchors change over time. The entrepreneurship/creativity career anchor was found to change the most, whereas managerial competence was found to change the least. Finally, high levels of career satisfaction and low levels of turnover intention were reported by the women included in the research. These two factors are inversely related and also appear to be correlated with a women’s identification with her job and profession. This research advances a variety of efforts in both academic and industry discourses. First, the literature survey represents significant efforts to characterize the discourses of organizational behavior and gender and IT research. Second, the mixed-method research enabled the analysis of multiple sources of data, which added to the body of empirical research on organizational behavior, and the values and motivations of women in the IT workforce. In addition, this research contributed to Trauth’s theoretical foundation of the individual differences theory of gender and IT through the investigation of career anchor variations among women. Finally, the discussion and conclusions inform recommendations and interventions developed in order to address the under representation of women in the IT workforce.