Computing in a New Zealand Urban Community
Barbara J. Crump (Massey University, New Zealand), Keri Logan (Massey University, New Zealand) and Andrea McIlroy (Massey University, New Zealand)
Copyright: © 2006
Governments and international organisations have expressed concern regarding what has been labeled the digital divide, that is, the gap between those people who have access to, and the ability to use, modern information technologies—such as computers, the Internet, e-mail, and other mobile technologies, often referred to as information communication technologies (ICTs)—and those who do not. As a result a range of measures have been put in place by public agencies in an attempt to reduce the inequities between the “haves” and the “have nots”. One strategy which has commonly been used is the establishment of free and easy access to computing and Internet facilities within communities identified as needing such assistance. In Wellington, New Zealand, a project called Smart Newtown has been implemented whereby free public access to computers and the Internet and free introductory classes are made available to all citizens. The researchers were employed to evaluate the implementation and sustainability of this project and this chapter discusses how, over a period of three years, the participation of women has changed. The questions asked were “How did the women benefit from their attendance?” and “What caused this change in participation?” The article begins with a brief background on gender and ICTs, followed by a short review of the literature regarding the digital divide and community computing. One of the successful computing centers in the Smart Newtown project is then examined from a gender viewpoint.