This article is published in the November 2015 issue.

Shining the Spotlight on Undergraduate LGBTQ Women


Spotlight on Undergrad LBTQ Women

CERP surveyed 101 undergraduate students majoring in a computing field who indicated that they had seriously considered changing to a non-computing major. Of those students, 7% identified as LGBTQ women, 7% identified as LGBTQ men, 27% identified as heterosexual women, and 59% identified as heterosexual men. When asked to indicate the reason they thought about changing their major. LGBTQ women were significantly more likely than their male LGBTQ and heterosexual peers to have considered leaving their major due to a low sense of belonging in computing, p < .05. These findings suggest the field of computing should take significant efforts to enhance LGBTQ women’s sense of belonging in computing.

Note. LGBTQ = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, or Queer. We define “computing field” as either computer science, computer engineering or electrical and computer engineering, computing information systems, or another computing-related field including interdisciplinary fields with a strong computing component (e.g., computational biology or digital media). Students who had thought about leaving their major were asked: How much do you disagree or agree with the following statements: I have considered changing to another major because: (1) I do not feel welcomed in the computing community; and (2) I do not feel like I “fit” in the computing community, using a scale ranging from (1) strongly disagree to (5) strongly agree. These items were then aggregated into a single variable, belonging, used for the analysis presented here.

This analysis is brought to you by the CRA’s Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP). CERP provides social science research and comparative evaluation for the computing community. To learn more about CERP, visit our website at http://cra.org/cerp/