Analyzing Gender Segregation in Comuting

Analyzing Gender Segregation in Comuting

Leena Ghoshal (New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA) and Katia Passerini (New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch005
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Gender appears to be a fundamental category for ordering and classifying social relations in the world (Evans, 1994). The first thing we are told about a newborn is whether it is a boy or a girl. Gender as defined by Acker, (1992, p. 250) is a “patterned, socially produced distinction between female and male, feminine and masculine” and is a key concept for understanding the degree of male and female participation in any field, including information systems. This review aims at developing an understanding of some of the reasons that underlie (a) the gender segregation that exists within the broad, interrelated fields of computing (information systems (IS), information technology (IT), and computer science (CS)) and (b) the declining levels of female participation in the computing industry across the continents. The three computing disciplines (IS, IT, CS) and the computing profession clearly appear gender segregated, with a male dominance at all levels. As Booth (1999) noted, while one of the first software ever written for a machine was produced by a woman—Ada Lovelace in 1840, it is a male, Charles Babbage—the inventor of the difference calculating machine—that is generally accepted as the founding father of computing. Booth concludes: “And that, in microcosm, has been how the IT industry developed over the next 160 years—a combination of rapid technical advances leading to skills crisis while half the nation’s workforce has been routinely overlooked” (p. 47).

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