Deferring Social Impact: Conceptions of ICTD and Computing Careers

Date
2022-01-04
Authors
Garrison, Philip
Pei, Lucy
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Abstract
This paper contributes to the conversation about undergraduate students' conceptions of computer science (CS) and career pathways. We present a qualitative study of undergraduate involvement on a software research project in the Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICTD) subfield of CS. We analyze interviews with nine students who worked on the project in a capstone course and/or as volunteer research assistants. We contribute (1) a new angle on students' conceptions of CS and the ICTD subfield, which reveals that interest in ``social impact'' motivates their involvement in ICTD, in contrast to a perceived default CS career path at large tech companies; and (2) an articulation of the phenomenon we call \emph{deferring social impact}, which describes student researchers' intentions to eventually find the social impact they desire despite following that default career path.
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Keywords
Industry, Quality, and Social Issues (IQSI), career funneling, conceptions of computing, ictd
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