Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Increasing Gender Equity in Computer Science: A Case Study in One Suburban High School
by Settle, Dawn M., D.Ed., Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 2020, 259; 27833290
Abstract (Summary)

Computer science touches our lives daily. The ever-growing need for computer science across all careers illuminates the importance that all students have access to a quality computer science education that will provide the training and tools required to meet the workforce demands. National and State legislative measures have provided much-needed momentum and the perfect climate to conduct this study.

The primary objective of this qualitative descriptive case study was to describe how one suburban high school in Pennsylvania has addressed gender barriers to support the participation and achievement of female students in AP Computer Science courses as perceived by a sample of professional staff members for multiple years. Additionally, the researcher aimed to better understand the contribution, if any, of systems thinking as perceived by professional staff members to the implementation of initiatives that have moved the positive trajectory of gender equity in computer science forward.

Multiple methods for collecting data were used that included semi-structured interviews and a review of district documents. Additionally, participation and achievement data reported by the College Board and district-generated reports, disaggregated by gender, course, and grade-level data were collected. The synergistic leadership theory (SLT) was used as a lens to code for emergent themes, analyze the data, and communicate the study’s findings. Nineteen themes emerged in this study that connected to the four factors of the SLT: (1) A unified self-efficacy philosophy; (2) Exposure and opportunity for all; (3) Students are held at the center; (4) Establishing expectations; (5) Encouraging a “Growth Mindset”; (6) Orientation to holistic thinking; (7) Reflection and personal growth; (8) Cultivating leaders; (9) Collaborative and cohesive leadership; (10) School stakeholder collaboration; (11) Putting the right person on the bus; (12) Community support and expectations; (13) State initiatives and expectations; (14) Financial capital; (15) Silo thinking; (16) Computer science misconceptions; (17) It takes time; (18) The elephant in the room, and (19) Sustained leadership.

This case study serves as an exemplar for other school districts who are working towards gender equity in computer science or embarking on a new initiative.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Twiest, Meghan
Commitee: Ankrum, Julie, Kerry-Moran, Kelli Jo
School: Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Department: Professional Studies in Education
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 81/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Computer science, Gender studies, Secondary education
Keywords: Computer science, Gender barriers, Gender equity, Gender-specific opportunities, Leadership behaviors, Out-of-school clubs and competitions
Publication Number: 27833290
ISBN: 9798643179603
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