Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science

First Advisor's Name

Monique Ross

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Peter Clarke

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Leonardo Bobadilla

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Mark Allen Weiss

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Kathleen Quardokus Fisher

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Hiring in computing, computing jobs, computing identity, technical interviews, diversity in computing, cultural wealth, intersectionality, broadening participation

Date of Defense



What does it take to obtain a computing position in the industry? Although anecdotal reports state that ``hiring is broken,'' empirical evidence is necessary to identify the flaws in the existing system. The goal of this dissertation was to understand what expectations companies have for job seekers in computing, and to explore students' experiences with technical interviews and their pathways to job attainment. In particular, this work considered how hiring practices may impact populations already underrepresented in computing such as women, Black/African American students, and Hispanic/Latinx students. It also sought to understand how minoritized populations leverage their own inherent capital to overcome obstacles throughout the process. The theoretical frameworks of community cultural wealth, social cognitive career theory, identity theory, and intersectionality guided the studies, to answer the following research questions: 1) What does the hiring process in computing look like from both the applicant and industry perspective?; 2) How do cultural experiences impact technical interview preparation?; 3) How do technical interviews, and other professional and cultural experiences impact computing identity?; and 4) How do students describe their experiences with the hiring process in computing?

To address these questions, a variety of methods were employed, beginning with a systematic literature review. This was followed by an explanatory sequential mixed-methods design that utilized a survey, statistical analysis, and semi-structured interviews. Discursive phenomenography was also the methodology chosen which shaped the qualitative inquiry. The findings illustrated the unique experiences and support mechanisms students from different gender, racial, and ethnic backgrounds utilize to succeed in hiring. These results not only serve to inform students, educators, and administrators how to best prepare for technical interviews, but also present a call to action for industry to change hiring and workplace practices that limit diversity. Suggestions and guidelines are given to enable a hiring process that can still achieve its target of finding qualified employees, but that does so in a manner more inclusive to all job seekers.




Previously Published In

Parts of my manuscript have been previously published, or are in press:

Lunn, S., Zahedi, L., Ross, M., & Ohland, M. (2021). Exploration of Intersectionality and Computer Science Demographics: Understanding the Historical Context of Shifts in Participation. ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), 21(2), 1-30.

Lunn, S., Ross, M., Hazari, Z., Weiss, M. A., Christensen, K. & Georgiopoulos, M. (2021, June). The impact of technical interviews, and other professional and cultural experiences on students’ computing identity. In press at the 26th annual conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE), ACM.

Lunn, S. & Ross, M. (2021, May). Ready to Work: Evaluating the Role of Community Cultural Wealth during the Hiring Process in Computing. In press at the Annual Conference on Research in Equity and Sustained Participation in Engineering, Computing, and Technology (RESPECT).

Lunn, S. & Ross, M. (2021, July). Unnecessary Hurdles: A Systematic Literature Review Examining the Hiring Process in Computing. In press at the 17th Int'l Conf on Frontiers in Education: Computer Science and Computer Engineering (FECS’21).

Lunn, S. & Ross, M. (2021, July). Uneven Playing Field: Examining Preparation for Technical Interviews in Computing and the Role of Cultural Experiences. In press at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Conference.

Lunn, S. & Ross, M. (2021, July). Cracks in the Foundation: Issues with Diversity and the Hiring Process in Computing Fields. In press at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Conference.

Lunn, S.J., Zhu, J., & Ross, M.S. (2020, October). Utilizing Web Scraping and Natural Language Processing to Better Inform Pedagogical Practice. In Frontiers in Education (FIE) 2020, Uppsala, Sweden.

S. Lunn, L. Zahedi, M. S. Ross, M. W. Ohland. (2021, March). Exploration of intersectionality and computer science demographics: Understanding the phenomena related to historical shifts. Presented at the NSF Re-Enter STEM Through Emerging Technology (RESET) conference. Virtual.



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