Women continue to be underrepresented in computer science and technology related fields despite their significant contributions. The lack of diversity in technology related fields is problematic as it can result in the perpetuation of negative stereotypes and closed-minded, unchecked biases. As technology tools become integral to our daily lives it is essential that a diverse group of people contribute to the sociocultural environments where we participate and live. This dissertation is a phenomenological, interview-based, study designed to investigate the lived experience of women in undergraduate computer science and engineering programs. The purpose of this study was to better understand the factors that might encourage or discourage the participation women in the major and in the field. In order to grow the number of women in technical fields it is important to first understand what attracts them to the field and what supports they find helpful or not helpful. This study illuminated some recommendations that might guide the work of practitioners in secondary schools as well as higher education. Among other things, participants appreciated being challenged by the content and assignments, feeling support from faculty and peers, feeling a connection to the culture, effective encouragement to persist, and engaging interactions. All of the participants described having gone into their field to make a positive impact on society and they also all described the importance having at least one supportive female mentor. Participants described the importance of having spaces where they felt included and appreciated their professors and peers who pushed back against the historical CS-world stereotypes. While the experience of each participant was unique, and there were some very negative experiences, all six participants reported having mostly positive experience in their undergraduate programs.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Learning technologies; Women in computer science -- Case studies; Women in engineering -- Case studies; Technology -- Moral and ethical aspects

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Fusco Kledzik, Judith;