ISU business experts explain airfares, lack of women in high-tech fields

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University's College of Business has two story prospects for those "dog days" of summer.

UP IN THE AIR FARES -- Online airfare shopping shows a wide range of prices from terminal to terminal, and airline to airline. But why is that? And why does it seem as though the airlines making the most profit (like Southwest, Frontier) are also the ones offering the "discount" airfares? ISU Professor of Logistics & Supply Chain Management Clyde "Skip" Walter has done past research on pricing in domestic airfares and reports that the ticket pricing structure has long since "gone whacko." "Ticket prices are changed frequently, depending on how many days remain before a flight, how many tickets have been sold, and responses to perceived competitors' actions," he said. "Airlines and business schools call this 'yield management' and the computer models adjusting prices to maximize total revenues have also been applied by car rental companies and hotel chains." Walter said that when airlines encounter problems in meeting their schedules, they no longer have the capacity -- in terms of equipment or people -- to pick up the slack. CONTACT: Walter at (515) 294-8632,

WHERE HAVE ALL THE WOMEN GONE? -- ISU's Management Information Systems (MIS) program boasts 200 majors, but only 15 of them (7 percent) are women. And according to Associate Professor in MIS Brian Mennecke, that's the trend among business schools, despite reports by the U.S. Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics showing that far more women (nearly 58 percent) are attending college than men. It is surprising that women are avoiding high-tech business careers, particularly since a U.S. Department of Labor "Hot Jobs for the 21st Century, 2004-2014" report ( projects that women in the labor force will increase to 75.9 million by 2014, with six of the 30 fastest growing jobs being computer-related. Yet the 2006 book by J. McGrath Cohoon and William Asprey titled "Women and Information Technology: Research on Underrepresentation" looks at studies documenting the persistent gender imbalance in computing. Mennecke is conducting research with Accenture Faculty Fellow in MIS Tony Townsend on reasons why students tend to shy away from technology. Mennecke's take -- high-tech business jobs have an image problem and women see them as jobs for male "tech-heads." Iowa State's MIS program has tried to change that image through some targeted new marketing initiatives, including its more trendy "Am I? Yes!" Web site ( CONTACT: Mennecke at (515) 294-8100,; Townsend at (515) 294-7834,