Gender Symbolism and Technology Uptake: A Literature Review

Gender Symbolism and Technology Uptake: A Literature Review

Ruth Nsibirano (Makerere University, Uganda), Consolata Kabonesa (Makerere University, Uganda) and Aramanzan Madanda (Makerere University, Uganda)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0020-1.ch010
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The need to promote adoption of technology in general and Information and Communication Technologies, computers, and the internet in specific terms has increasingly become of interest. Observation is that while some potential users take on the innovation with much ease, others remain less enthusiastic, and some do not uptake at all. In addition, there are differences noted between male and female users. The reasons influencing the differences are not yet well explained but could be as a result of gender symbolism. The objective of this chapter is to review literature on gender symbolism and cite explanations supporting the influence of GS on differences in uptake.
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Several studies document that males not only have better access to computers and the internet than the females (Komerik, 2005) but also enjoy long hours online and also seem to be more enthusiastic about the use of computers and the internet (Agbonlahor, 2005; Brous, 2005; Hafkin & Taggart, 2001; Huyer & Sikoska, 2003; Madanda, Kabonesa, & Bantebya-Kyomuhendo, 2007). In addition, differences are observed in the areas of interest among what the male and females do with the computer and the internet (BBC, 2007; Komerik, 2005; Nsibirano, 2006) although the findings are not conclusive enough to point out how differences in meaning formation and attachment to the technology could provide explanations for the disparities.

In the study of the influence of gender symbolism (GS) and disparities on ICT uptake, analysis is made of the concept of “Gender Symbolism”. By definition, according to Harding, in (Cockburn & Ormrod, 1993) GS is the process by which meanings are assigned to everything in the world. Out of GS, the two very important variables that stand out are: meanings and values. In every day speech, and actions too the term “meaning” is used. However, each time it is used, it takes on different meaning. Ogden & Richards, (1923) identified 16 different meanings, which depend on the person using the term. Hence Berlos’ conclusion that meaning is in people. Each person or group of people, depending on their experiences create and define meaning(s) in their own specific and meaningful terms.

Several studies and scholars have explored the use of meaning. Among them are: Marketing studies, Agricultural technology adoption studies (Diederen, Meijl, Wolters, & Bijak, 2003), communication studies and literature--to show deeper analytical interpretations otherwise not given and in nursing care studies -- where the medical workers sought to understand the meaning to life of patients, whose life experiences had been interrupted by negative or threatening experiences like chronic or terminal illnesses and so required assistance in their readjustment and refocusing of the meaning of life (Skaggs & Barron, 2006). These studies found out that: Meaning is subjective (Heath, 2003), necessary in social processes and central to pursuing a life characterized as purposeful and goal directed. It is meaning that gives direction for one’s life as it directs and defines action(s) (Barbalet, 1999; Skaggs & Barron, 2006). The absence of meaning in an activity or circumstance leads to an experience of boredom (Barbalet, 1999; Skaggs & Barron, 2006). However, noted was the fact that meaning is not static but flexible (Heath, 2003). Meaning can be interrupted (Skaggs & Barron, 2006), re defined or even changed by experiences, through ones relations’ in society. Meanings do not arise in solitude. So in the interrogation of meaning and gender symbolism, interaction or the relationship of individuals with the Innovation, in more specific terms with the computers and the internet in this case is very important. It is out of such interactions that some technology adopters have been seen to regress from use or adoption, although not many studies have investigated why there is withdrawal from use.

On the other hand values are objective, give structure and an element of rigidity to a person’s character. It is from the subjective meanings that social values are formed. It is values that help determine actions and behavior. Further, values can transform relationships. However, values could also change depending on the changes in a given society (Heath, 2003).

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Table of Contents
Rekha Pande, Theo Van der Weide
Chapter 1
Th.P. van der Weide
The rapid technological changes caused by Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have a strong impact on societies world-wide. This will... Sample PDF
A Digital (R)evolution to the Information Age
Chapter 2
Nirupama Prakash
The term “gender” is used to refer to behavioral differences between males and females that are culturally based and socially learned. Cultures... Sample PDF
ICT and Women Empowerment in a Rural Setting in India
Chapter 3
Gillian Youngs
In considering women’s relationship to information and communication technologies (ICTs), it is important to look at the historically embedded... Sample PDF
Globalization, Information and Communication Technologies, and Women’s Lives
Chapter 4
B. Ratna Kumari
The advent of the new technology was originally seen as a positive development for women’s work. India is one of the largest providers of off-... Sample PDF
Gender, Culture, and ICT use
Chapter 5
Esther Ruiz Ben
Professionalism as a particular form of organizing work has been challenged by internationalization dynamics, globalization, and the development of... Sample PDF
Gendering Professionalism in the Internationalization of Information Work
Chapter 6
Zhang Wei, Cheris Kramarae
The assumption that women are not capable of generating big ideas is entrenched in the mainstream consciousness and may appear in many guises. In... Sample PDF
Women, Big Ideas, and Social Networking Technologies: Hidden Assumptions
Chapter 7
Roxana Georgiana Radu
The global digital divide, denoting the patterns of uneven distribution of information and communication technologies (ICTs) worldwide, emerged as a... Sample PDF
From Drift to Draft: International Institutional Responses to the Global Digital Divide
Chapter 8
Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger
The question of digital divide along gender and culture is still an important one and has to be re-visited after a long period of scientific... Sample PDF
Exclusiveness vs. Inclusiveness in Software Development: The Triple-Loop-Learning Approach
Chapter 9
Vinitha Johnson
Technophobia, computer illiteracy, poverty, lack of necessity to counter the downward arch of the learning curve, and fear of sexual predators... Sample PDF
The Gender Divide: Attitudinal Issues Inhibiting Access
Chapter 10
Ruth Nsibirano, Consolata Kabonesa, Aramanzan Madanda
The need to promote adoption of technology in general and Information and Communication Technologies, computers, and the internet in specific terms... Sample PDF
Gender Symbolism and Technology Uptake: A Literature Review
Chapter 11
Shahida Mutaza, Lalitha K. Sami
Technologies have entered libraries. Scientists in research institutions, for their research work, have to use technology–based information... Sample PDF
Gender Aspects in the Use of ICT in Information Centres
Chapter 12
Mona Alkhattabi, Daniel Neagu, Andrea Cullen
With the prevalent use of e-learning systems as an information exchange means, the need for quality published materials within these systems has... Sample PDF
User Perceptions of Information Quality in E-Learning Systems: A Gender and Cultural Perspective
Chapter 13
P. Jyothi
Workplace stress and pressures confronted by an employee due to conflicting role demands and their desire to lead a fulfilling life have brought... Sample PDF
Challenges Faced by Women: BPO Sector
Chapter 14
Doreen J. Mattingly
This chapter draws on recent (2005) interviews with 20 call center workers in the New Delhi metro area to analyze the impact of employment in... Sample PDF
Indian Women Working in Call Centers: Sites of Resistance?
Chapter 15
Jeria L. Quesenberry
Despite the shortage of information technology (IT) professionals in the global economy, women are largely underrepresented in the IT workforce.... Sample PDF
Re-Examining the Career Anchor Model: An Investigation of Career Values and Motivations among Women in the Information Technology Profession
Chapter 16
Ruth Woodfield
This chapter explores the employment patterns of male and female Computer Science graduates in the UK. It is shown that women Computer Science... Sample PDF
Gender and Employability Patterns amongst UK ICT Graduates: Investigating the Leaky Pipeline
Chapter 17
M N Rajesh
This chapter draws upon parallel developments in tourism and new media studies basing on the emergence of virtual tourism. Virtual tourism, and by... Sample PDF
Virtual Tourism as a New Form of Oppression against Women
Chapter 18
Alvin S. Concha
This cyberethnographic study aims to describe the creation of male sexualities among self-ascribed Filipino men in online chatrooms, describe the... Sample PDF
Filipino Cyborg Sexualities, Chatroom Masculinities, Self-Ascribed Identities, Ephemeral Selves
Chapter 19
Fahad AL Harby, Rami Qahwaji, Mumtaz Kamala
This book study presents recent findings from an ongoing cross-cultural study exploring the acceptance of a new security method based on biometrics... Sample PDF
End-Users’ Acceptance of Biometrics Authentication to Secure E-Commerce within the Context of Saudi Culture: Applying the UTAUT Model
Chapter 20
Winifred R. Poster
While literature on women in technology and women in the military are well-developed, the field of cybersecurity has yet to be addressed within... Sample PDF
The Case of the U.S. Mother / Cyberspy / Undercover Iraqi Militant: Or, how Global Women Have Been Incorporated in the Technological War on Terror
Chapter 21
Shelly Tara, P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan
Based on a qualitative empirical study of women call center employees in India, this chapter argues that approaches towards marriage are being... Sample PDF
Western Work Worlds and Altering Approaches to Marriage: An Empirical Study of Women Employees of Call Centers in India1
Chapter 22
Rekha Pande
The present chapter attempts to look at the digital divide and the constraints related to Information Technology, which women share by gender. Along... Sample PDF
Gender Gaps and Information and Communication Technology: A Case Study of India
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