May 17, 2011

High-Tech Careers an Easier Choice for Women in the East

Samina Saifuddin is fascinated by cross-cultural differences.

“In a western context, gender-equality is generally quite strong,” says Saifuddin, who has both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business management from the University of Dhaka, and an MBA from the Western Kentucky University. “Yet, when you look at the women’s representation in the high-tech industry – that is definitely not the case. In fact, it is mostly a man’s domain.”

Saifuddin adds that the findings of her latest study show that, in contrast, in the Eastern society, which she says is generally more male-dominated, there are a lot of women in the high-tech jobs. She says that in the East, the high-tech field is viewed as gender-neutral. Parents encourage their daughters to pursue high-tech majors in higher education because of the prestige associated with the profession.

In order to compile the data for her study, Saifuddin has already collected 859 surveys from different engineering universities in Bangladesh and is in the process of conducting an online survey with Canadian students for comparison.

“My research team and I have found, so far, that gender differences in Bangladesh are significant for socio-economic status and self-efficacy.

Gender differences in Bangladesh are significant for socio-economic status and self-efficacy

In fact, parental socio-economic status was found to be higher but self-efficacy was found to be lower for female students compared to the male students.

“One of the things that was surprising was that gender differences existed in the extent to which mother, sister, female friend and other female adults influenced the choice of major, and in all instances it was higher for the female students.

This opposes a lot of other research that says that the male figures are important influences on girl’s decision to pursue a non-traditional career.”

Saifuddin has already submitted papers to two upcoming conferences (AMCIS and AOM) and also intends to examine the high-tech trends of the students in Iran and Brazil.

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