Digital Divide, Gender and the Indian Experience in IT

Digital Divide, Gender and the Indian Experience in IT

Rekha Pande (Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-939-7.ch105
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Abstract

Information technology is being perceived as the magical wand and the harbinger of prosperity as it can guarantee access to global markets and enable direct foreign investment and e-commerce. Several projects aim at bringing information technologies to India with a belief in the transforming potential of IT. However, these technologies have created a digital and gender divide. In this article, attempts have been made to look into the digital divide and the constraints that women share by gender specifically in India. India is a multilateral, multilingual, and multireligious society with many subdivides based on region, ethnic groups, class, and caste. The digital divide and gender has become yet another component of this diversity. In India, women comprise 14% of the IT industry and 26% of the business processing outsourcing (BPO) workforce. The total workforce of IT and BPO is made up of approximately 70 million people (http://www.ciol.com). At the lower experience level (about 3 years), about 19% of the workforce comprises women. At senior levels, women constitute less than 6% of the workforce (http://www.dqqindia.com). This indicates that few manage to reach the top level, and the majority of them remain at lower levels as computer or data-entry operators. The gender gap in the digital divide is of great concern as it is directly linked to socioeconomic development. A major developmental issue of the coming decades will be the access and use of IT (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 1989). Policy makers of both industrial and developing countries have agreed that IT is one of the fastest growing industries and is likely to be the largest by the turn of the century (Kraemer, 1994). Hence, if women are not actively present at all levels in this growing industry, then we would see marginalization that could undermine the advances made by women in other fields in the 20th century.

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