Minority female students are under-represented in computer-related fields such as computer science, information systems, and computer engineering. Yet, minority female students are also under-represented in computer-related degree programs (Botella et al. 2019). This group of students faces unique challenges that can discourage them from continuing with a computer-related degree (Varma 2003). These challenges include a lack of writing and degree readiness skills such as mathematical and computational thinking skills (Varma 2003). Minority female students are also faced with economic challenges and family commitments which can hinder or discourage them from continuing in a degree program (Varma 2003). In addition, minority females lack female role models in academics and industry. They are influenced by the stereotypical belief that white males dominate the computer field and that certain groups do not belong in the computer field (Asai 2020). These prejudices and stereotypes can be reinforced in the home, and as a result, many minority females are not encouraged or supported to pursue or to continue in computer-related degree programs (Botella et al. 2019). The effects of these challenges are seen in the Computer Systems Technology Bachelor Degree Program of a major technical college in New York City. In this program, minority females make up a very small percentage of the overall students. In addition, compared to the white male students and the non-minority female students in the same program, the minority female students are far more likely to leave the program without graduating.
This study aims to analyze retention data for minority female students (Hispanic, African American, Native American, Pacific Islander) in the Computer Systems Technology Bachelor Degree Program of a major technical college in New York City. The data gathered is from five consecutive cohort years (2014-2018) and is compared and contrasted to retention data for male and non-minority female students in the same degree program and the same five consecutive cohort years. Study findings emphasize the breadth and width of the retention narrative for these minority female students. The study, the first in a series of studies, identifies a roadmap for retention improvement and an implementation plan for supportive actions to increase retention of minority female students in the Computer Systems Technology Bachelor Degree Program.