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"For me it doesn't matter where I put my information": Enactments of Agency, Mutual Learning, and Gender in IT Design

Copyright © 2010. 18 pages.
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DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-813-5.ch004
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MLA

Sefyrin, Johanna. ""For me it doesn't matter where I put my information": Enactments of Agency, Mutual Learning, and Gender in IT Design." Gender Issues in Learning and Working with Information Technology: Social Constructs and Cultural Contexts. IGI Global, 2010. 65-82. Web. 29 Jul. 2014. doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-813-5.ch004

APA

Sefyrin, J. (2010). "For me it doesn't matter where I put my information": Enactments of Agency, Mutual Learning, and Gender in IT Design. In S. Booth, S. Goodman, & G. Kirkup (Eds.) Gender Issues in Learning and Working with Information Technology: Social Constructs and Cultural Contexts (pp. 65-82). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-813-5.ch004

Chicago

Sefyrin, Johanna. ""For me it doesn't matter where I put my information": Enactments of Agency, Mutual Learning, and Gender in IT Design." In Gender Issues in Learning and Working with Information Technology: Social Constructs and Cultural Contexts, ed. Shirley Booth, Sara Goodman and Gill Kirkup, 65-82 (2010), accessed July 29, 2014. doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-813-5.ch004

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Abstract

In information technology (IT) design it is essential to develop rich and nuanced understandings of messy design realities. In this chapter Karen Barad’s agential realism is used as an analytical approach in order to obtain such a multifaceted understanding of a local IT design project. The purpose of the paper is to explore entanglements of agency, mutual learning, and gender in a business process analysis. The main argument here is that these issues were inextricably intertwined with each other and with the sociomaterial relations of which they were part. All empirical material used in the chapter was collected with the help of ethnographic methods. Finally the chapter concludes with a discussion about agential realism as an analytical approach.
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Introduction

In information technology (IT) design it is important to obtain rich and situated understandings of relevant design contexts, and this requires proper analytical methodologies. Analytical methods which result in simplified understandings can lead to a range of various problems. If the analytical methods are too simplified we might (in an IT design context) end up with categories such as ‘users’ and ‘designers’, without understanding that behind these categories there are a number of different professional identities and working relations (Suchman, 2002). If this happens we might also be unable to see that those who at first seemed to be users might, related to an IT systems design project, also be considered designers. A part of any methodology for understanding situations in all their complexities might be to develop an awareness of gender. Otherwise there is a risk of using gender blind methods in IT design. Such gender blind design methods might lead to the exclusion of certain groups of female users, even though the intention was to include everybody (Oudshoorn et al, 2004). Researchers in Participatory Design have underscored the importance of user participation in IT design. They mean that if the (work) practices which an IT system is supposed to improve are not understood in all their intricacies, chances are good that the users will not be able to use the IT system in a way that can help them conducting their assignments (see e.g. Bjerknes & Bratteteig, 1995, Bødker et al, 2004). What our analytical tools make visible as relevant is a question of ethics, moral and politics, since our understanding of reality regulates what can be designed, and thus the kind of world that can be created (see Löwgren & Stolterman, 2004, Beck, 2002). We need analytical tools which are sensible enough to make visible these and other kinds of problems that may appear in technoscientific practices such as IT design. How is it possible to see and understand technoscientific practices as complex processes, consisting and dependent of a range of interrelated issues, instead of understanding them in a simplified and isolated manner? There is always a risk that analytical tools sort out issues that might at first seem irrelevant, but later turn out to be highly relevant. Consequently it becomes central to consider what is included and what is excluded as relevant in IT design situations – and who gets to decide this. In order to reach deeper understandings it is essential to learn to see and understand in richer ways, to include rather than to exclude what is taken into account as relevant. How and what we see also shapes what becomes possible to do. Donna Haraway (1991b, p. 190) writes: “Feminist objectivity is about limited location and situated knowledge, not about transcendence and splitting of subject and object. In this way we might become answerable for what we learn how to see”. Several research traditions have attempted to develop methods for how to see and understand the world as something dynamic, multiple and situated. Some of these attempts come from feminist technoscience1. Within the tradition of feminist technoscience Haraway’s figuration of diffraction (see Haraway 2000, 2004, 1997) is one such attempt, and Karen Barad’s agential realism (1998, 1999, 2003, 2007) is another. In this paper Barad’s agential realism will be used in order to explore some of the complexities of one specific technoscientific practice; the design of an IT system. The purpose of the paper is to explore entanglements of agency, mutual learning, and gender in a business process analysis. The argument in the paper is that these were deeply and inextricably entangled in each other and with the sociomaterial relations of which they were part, and that changes in one of these resulted in changes in the others.

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Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Foreword
Madeleine Cæsar
Preface
Shirley Booth, Sara Goodman, Gill Kirkup
Chapter 1
Inger Boivie
This chapter explores aspects of the gendering of computer science and IT, related to epistemological issues of what computing is and what type of... Sample PDF
Women, Men and Programming : Knowledge, Metaphors and Masculinity
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Chapter 2
Ulf Mellström
This chapter investigates how and why computer science in Malaysia is dominated by women. Drawing on recent critical interventions in gender and... Sample PDF
New Gender Relations in the Transforming IT-Industry of Malaysia
$37.50
Chapter 3
Eva Maria Hoffmann
In Afghanistan, the development of information technology (IT) as an industry and an educational field is still quite young, but this provides the... Sample PDF
Women in Computer Science in Afghanistan
$37.50
Chapter 4
Johanna Sefyrin
In information technology (IT) design it is essential to develop rich and nuanced understandings of messy design realities. In this chapter Karen... Sample PDF
"For me it doesn't matter where I put my information": Enactments of Agency, Mutual Learning, and Gender in IT Design
$37.50
Chapter 5
Christina Mörtberg, Pirjo Elovaara
The Swedish public sector is involved in an overwhelming change process aiming towards creating a good-service society based on information... Sample PDF
Attaching People and Technology: Between E and Government
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Chapter 6
Marie Griffiths, Helen Richardson
The trend for women to be severely under-represented in the UK ICT (information and communication technology) sector persists. Girls continue, year... Sample PDF
Against All Odds, from All-Girls Schools to All-Boys Workplaces: Women’s Unsuspecting Trajectory Into the UK ICT Sector
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Chapter 7
Agneta Gulz, Magnus Haake
This chapter explores motivational and cognitive effects of more neutral or androgynous-looking versus more feminine-looking and masculine-looking... Sample PDF
Challenging Gender Stereotypes Using Virtual Pedagogical Characters
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Chapter 8
Martha Blomqvist
This chapter presents a study on the use of research based information on gender and IT education disseminated by Swedish newspapers between 1994... Sample PDF
Absent Women: Research on Gender Relations in IT Education Mediated by Swedish Newspapers
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Chapter 9
Els Rommes
The aim of this chapter is to explore to what extent heteronormativity, the norm that man and woman are attracted to each other because of their... Sample PDF
Heteronormativity Revisited: Adolescents’ Educational Choices, Sexuality and Soaps
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Chapter 10
Shirley Booth, Eva Wigforss
The chapter tells of two women with low educational qualifications who embark on a journey into higher education by taking a distance course to... Sample PDF
Approaching Higher Education: A Life-World Story of Home-Places, Work-Places and Learn-Places
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Chapter 11
Annika Bergviken Rensfeldt, Sandra Riomar
This chapter problematizes how gender is constructed and used in the arguments of flexible distance education. By using a gender and space analysis... Sample PDF
Gendered Distance Education Spaces: “Keeping Women in Place”?
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Chapter 12
Minna Salminen-Karlsson
In this study of computer courses in municipal adult education, 173 questionnaires from 10 Swedish adult education centres with students taking a... Sample PDF
Computer Courses in Adult Education in a Gender Perspective
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Chapter 13
Gill Kirkup
This chapter examines the access women have had historically to engage in knowledge production as university scholars or students. It discusses the... Sample PDF
Gendered Knowledge Production in Universities in a Web 2.0 World
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Chapter 14
Gwyneth Hughes
Collaborative learning online is increasingly popular and the interaction between learners is documented and discussed, but gender is largely absent... Sample PDF
Queen Bees, Workers and Drones : Gender Performance in Virtual Learning Groups
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Chapter 15
Gill Kirkup, Sigrid Schmitz, Erna Kotkamp, Els Rommes, Aino-Maija Hiltunen
This chapter argues that the future development of European e-learning needs to be informed by gender theory, and feminist and other critical... Sample PDF
Towards a Feminist Manifesto for e-Learning: Principles to Inform Practices*
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