Maral Kargarmoakhar

Ph.D. Candidate

Lecture Information:
  • November 4, 2022
  • 12:00 PM
  • CASE 349 & Zoom

Speaker Bio

Maral Kargarmoakhar is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Computing and Information Sciences (SCIS) at Florida International University (FIU). She is currently working as a research assistant in the Listening and Engaging with Alternative Research Narratives in Computer Science (LEARN-CS) Lab under the supervision of Dr. Monique Ross. She received her M.S. in Computer Science from FIU in 2016, and a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Azad University, Iran in 2015. Her research interests span the fields of computing education and data science. She has published several research papers in top-tier journals and conference proceedings. She presented posters at different venues including ASEE, FIE, and GHC.


Women are underrepresented in the field of computer science in the United States. However, this is not a new problem as female participation in computer science has been experiencing a steady decline over the last three decades. Current reporting on women’s participation in this field has been published as steadying around 18%. Although, there are varying levels of participation in other countries, particularly in Muslim majority countries. For example, women in Bahrain, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Tunisia earned more than half of the total number of computer science degrees in their respective nations. This stark contrast between the United States and these other countries has prompted an exploration into the factors that contribute to women’s participation in computer science.

This thesis focuses on understanding how cultural environment can affect the participation of women in computer science, specifically with respect to individual, household, community, country, and global influences on occupational pursuit. The guiding theoretical framework is multi-level (micro and macro) cultural theory, to answer the following research questions: 1) How do micro and macro level cultural influences impact Muslim identified women’s intention to pursue a computer science undergraduate degree? 2) How do experiences differ in their impact on pursuing a computer science degree for Muslim women as compared to non-Muslim women in the U.S.? To answer these questions, I employed a parallel convergent mixed methods design that leveraged interviews, a survey, qualitative analysis as well as statistical analysis. According to results the micro and macro cultural factors that impact Muslim women and non-Muslim women towards pursuing a computer science major were different. One of the important factors identified was the differences between femininity and masculinity borders defined in the United States versus the Muslim majority countries. The results of this work are important to shedding light on the ways to increase engagement of women in computer science in the United States.