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 (NSF) Information Technology Workforce Program (ITWF) on broadening participation Computing and Information Technology careers. Established in 2000 in response to the declining participation of women and minorities in Computer Science education and Information Technology Careers, the ITWF supported close to $30 million in research before it ended 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, but we conclude that the ITWF program nonetheless had important effects on understanding of this problem and efforts to address it.
Rosenbloom, Joshua L. and Ginther, Donna K., "The Effectiveness of Social Science Research in Addressing Societal Problems: Broadening Participation in Computing" (2016). Economics Working Papers. 16000.