Gender and IT Professional Work Identity

Gender and IT Professional Work Identity

Mari W. Buche (Michigan Technological University, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch068
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Abstract

Our daily work is intrinsically tied to our personal image (Alvesson, 2001; Dahlberg, 2004; Gini, 1998). This is particularly true for Americans, since our personal identity is defined by what we do and how we accomplish our tasks (Alvesson, 2001; Gini, 1998). For example, in social gatherings, after learning a person’s name, the first piece of information requested is, “What do you do?” Job references provide a wealth of information regarding income, work habits, tasks, levels of responsibility, educational background, etc. Often, the generalizations that people make from this small bit of information are materially incorrect, but that is not usually considered relevant in the social context. It is more important for society to construct a category for placement of the person. In the literature on motivation, Steers and Porter (1991) posit that work primarily impacts individuals in four ways. First, people typically expect to be compensated or rewarded for their efforts (e.g., salary and bonuses). Second, work provides an opportunity for people to interact socially (with some obvious exceptions). Third, employment may influence people’s status in the community, outside of the work environment. This is most evident in the case of corporate executives and various professionals. Fourth, “from a psychological standpoint, [work] can be an important source of identity, self-esteem, and self-actualization,” (Steers & Porter, 1991, p. 574, italics added). Basically, people are internalizing their work experiences. In other words, when workers look in the mirror, what do they see? How would they classify themselves? To what group do they personally relate? Specifically, is there homogeneity in the work identities of IT professionals? The purpose of this article is to present an overview of the impact of gender on the developmental process of work identity creation in the IT field and its impact on job-related outcomes. This article begins with a general description of work identity in the IT profession, including a review of current literature on the formation of work identities. The next section summarizes research findings on gender from a larger study on work identity in the technology field, providing insights into the effect of gender on job satisfaction and intent to leave. The future trends and conclusion sections provide suggestions and managerial and academic implications.

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