Date of Conferral
Midcareer women are leaving the information technology (IT) career field at a much higher rate than are men. This attrition has contributed to a decreasing percentage of women in the IT field, hindering the creativity, innovation, and productivity that can result from a diverse workforce. This phenomenological study addressed a gap in the current research by examining the lived experience of women who have left the IT field. The conceptual frameworks of the study included Rhodes and Doering's integrated career change model based on traditional turnover theory, a model of gender and power in careers by Ragins and Sundstrom, and a career commitment model from Fu that accommodates the unique occupational culture of IT. The research questions explored the experiences, thoughts, and feelings that led these women to leave the IT profession after gaining years of experience. Participants were interviewed using a researcher-designed interview instrument and data were analyzed using a priori codes derived from the conceptual framework and literature review to guide analysis, assisted by software designed for this purpose. The main themes emerging from this study included: negative aspects of the IT culture and organizational climate, challenges of work/life balance, and gender bias and discrimination. The social change implications of knowledge gained through this study include positive changes in the experience of midcareer women in IT, improved retention of midcareer women in IT in corporations and government, and the increased productivity and innovation that is possible with a fully staffed and more diverse workforce.