Women and Computing Careers in Australia

Women and Computing Careers in Australia

Gillian. Whitehouse (The University of Queensland, Australia)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch193
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Abstract

In spite of predictions that the spread of information technology (IT) would help break down the gender segregation that characterized employment in the industrial era, women are under-represented in professional computing occupations throughout the advanced industrialized world, and those who do take up work in the IT sector are most likely to be found in routine and comparatively low paid jobs. The emergence of a “lighter, cleaner, and more sedentary set of occupations than the technologies of iron, oil and steam” (Cockburn, 1985, p.2) has certainly produced new jobs for both women and men, but—as Cockburn argues—gender inequalities have been reshaped rather than eradicated in this process of technological change. The aim of this article is to extend existing knowledge about gendered employment patterns in professional computing with an examination of the situation in Australia in the early 21st century. Drawing on research conducted as part of a project funded by the Australian Research Council (Whitehouse, Hunter, Smith, & Preston, 2002-5), the analysis illustrates the types of computing jobs that women are most likely to enter, and the extent to which women are ascending career ladders to take up senior technical and/or management positions. While this is primarily a descriptive exercise, it produces a more nuanced picture of gender inequalities in IT employment than observations simply about under-representation, and allows some reflection on strategies to enhance opportunities for women.

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