WSU College of Business Associate Professor K.D. Joshi has recently received a National Science Foundation grant for her research focused on diversity issues in Information Technology (IT). This is the third NSF grant for Joshi since becoming a faculty member at WSU in 1998, and will be used for the continuation of her research on the under-representation of women and minorities in the IT disciplines.

This recent grant is in partnership with faculty members from Pennsylvania State University’s Information Science and Technology School for research on the” Exploration of the Effects of Race, Ethnicity, and Socio-economic Class on Gender Stereotyping of STEM Disciplines.” The grant of $448,793 will provide support for their research through 2010. For the study, the team will investigate the effect of intersecting group membership – including race, ethnicity, and social class – on the types of societal messages about gender role received as well as the perception of and response to these societal messages.

The team believes the results of the research will add to the understanding of the factors influencing IT career choice among women, thereby informing societal interventions to increase participation of females and under-represented minorities in the STEM fields.

“The gender and IT work (that I have conducted with Dr. Kuhn) uncovered more similarities than differences between genders in light of individuals’ IT related career choices,” said Joshi. “My Penn State colleagues found that socio-economic class, race, and ethnicity, along with gender, could provide a much more nuanced explanation of the under representation of women in IT. In this research, we go beyond treating women as one homogenous monolithic group.

“We are hoping that including other explanatory factors such as class and race, we will better able to predict why some women enter and persist in the IT field while others are discouraged, even though these women experience similar gender role expectations.”

Joshi’s previous NSF grants include a $314,891 grant for her study “What Does It Take to Succeed in Information Technology? A Multi-Level Analysis of Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Critical Attributes and the Effects of Stereotype Fit” (2002–2007) and a $65,512 grant for her study “Women and Information Systems: Modeling the Impact of Work Values, Attitudes, and Attributes on Career Choices” (2000–2002). Kristine Kuhn, associate professor in the WSU Department of Management and Operations, collaborated on these grants with Joshi.

The NSF is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science,” among other goals. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.