Cultural and Social Contexts and Influencing Factors

Cultural and Social Contexts and Influencing Factors

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5860-8.ch005
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The first two layers of the STEMcell Model are detailed in this chapter: the cultural and social contexts and their influencing factors. These are largely identified in the voluminous preceding research. Key cultural influencing factors are popular culture, cultural norms, parental expectations, and occupational culture. Key social influencing factors are stereotypes, role modelling, mentoring, clubs, networks, media, peers, family, hygiene factors, and social norms. These factors and the degree of their actual influence are discussed critically, highlighting potential warning signs and issues. The overall conclusion is that, with the exception of cultures that strictly limit female participation, both the contexts themselves and interventions targeted at them have much less influence than is commonly assumed.
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Marilyn once sang diamonds are a girl’s best friend. These days that’s not true. ICT skills are a girl’s best friend. Have them, and the diamonds will follow – Neelie Kroes – VP of the European Commission responsible for the digital agenda (25 April 2013) (Kroes, 2013)


Cultural Context And Influencing Factors

In the STEMcell Model, cultural context is represented by an earth-like crust that expands or shrinks according to its own strength and the impact of the other contexts (social, structural, individual and #SocialIT). For example, in cultures that strictly limit or ban female participation or technology the cultural crust will be the dominant pervasive context. A visualization of the cultural “crust” listing specific influencing issues is diagrammed in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Cultural breakdown: Cultural factors influencing female participation in IT


Several studies (Ahuja, 2002; Gras-Velazquez, Joyce & Debry, 2009; Castano & Webster, 2011; Ashcraft, Eger & Friend, 2012) have addressed the topic of varied cultural influences in analyses of gender and IT. Table 1 summarises a review of the literature on noted cultural influencing factors.

Table 1.
Cultural context and influencing factors
Influencing FactorReference
Popular culture Ashcraft et al. (2012); Hayes (2005, 2008)
Cultural norms Castano & Webster (2011); Gras-Velazquez et al. (2009); UNESCO (2012)
Parental expectations Ashcraft et al. (2012)
Occupational culture Ahuja (2002); Guzman, Stanton, & Eischen (2006); Guzman & Stanton (2009); Modi, Schoenberg & Salmond (2012)

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