The effectiveness of social science research in addressing societal problems: Broadening participation in computing
One important rationale for federal funding of social science research is its role in addressing pressing social problems. In this article we examine the impact of the National Science Foundation’s Information Technology Workforce Program (ITWF) on broadening participation in computing and IT careers. Established in 2000 in response to the declining participation of women and minorities in computer science education and IT careers, the ITWF Program awarded almost US$30 million in research funding through its final solicitation in 2004. We document the quantitative and qualitative effects of this research funding, both to illustrate the complex ways in which R&D funding can advance scientific understanding and to identify the challenges that such problem-driven social science research may encounter. The problem of diversity in the IT workforce has not been solved. Nonetheless, the ITWF program had important effects on the understanding of this problem and efforts to address it.
This is a working paper of an article from Science and Public Policy 44, no. 2 (2016): 259-273. doi: 10.1093/scipol/scw062.