Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences
Maral Kargarmoakhar is a Ph.D. candidate in the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences (KFSCIS) 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 conference papers and posters, and presented at different venues including ASEE, FIE, and GHC.
Women are underrepresented in the field of computer science in the United States. Women’s participation in computer science has been experiencing a steady decline over the last three decades with current national rates settling at 18%. This is not, however the case around the globe. In fact, there are reported participation rates of women over 50% in Muslim majority countries. For example, women in Bahrain, Palestine, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Tunisia earned more than half of the total number of science degrees in their nations. This stark contrast between the United States and other countries has prompted an exploration into the different factors that contribute to women’s participation in computer science from majority Muslim countries.
This thesis focuses on understanding how cultural environment impacts the participation of women in computer science, specifically with respect to individual, household, community, country, and global influences on occupational pursuit. Leveraging cultural theoretical frameworks, the proposed work includes a convergent mixed-methods approach to answering the research questions: 1) How do micro 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.? The results of this work are important for understanding the influences on participation of women in computer science in other contexts in order to critically examine factors that influence engagement of women in computer science in the United States.