Gender Differences in Ethics Perceptions in Information Technology

Gender Differences in Ethics Perceptions in Information Technology

Leone E. Woodcock (Southern Cross University, Australia) and San Murugesan (Southern Cross University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch084
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Abstract

Greater emphasis is now placed on ethics in information technology (IT) which covers a broad range of issues such as privacy, honesty, trustworthiness, software reliability, data storage, the environment, security breaches, hacking, viruses, and acknowledging the intellectual property of others. Further, legal aspects tend to overlap ethics perceptions. For example, issues such as copying computer programs, music CDs, images, or videos are more than just ethical problems; they also pose legal problems. The ethical dimensions also extend to issues such as computer crime and fraud, information theft, and unauthorized information dissemination. These ethical issues are becoming more complex as continuing advances in IT present many new ethical situations and fresh dilemmas. Developments such as the Internet, electronic commerce, and wireless/mobile communications present a new set of ethical issues and challenge current of codes of ethics, copyright laws, and their authors. In addition, computer users’ ethical standards may also vary from one situation to another (Wikipedia, 2005). What is ethical is subjective, and more so in the areas of IT. Perceptions of ethics in IT vary to a degree from individual to individual. Further, there seems to be significant differences in the perception of ethics among males and females. According to Adam (2000), male and female judgment is most often influenced by their personal values and whether an action is considered legal. Woodcock (2002) conducted a study on ethical perceptions among 405 male and female students from universities, technical colleges, and schools in North-Eastern Australia and found significant differences in some ethical situations between males and females. This article presents common issues and dilemmas that confront IT professionals, students, and the general community. In particular, it presents gender differences in perceptions of ethics and legalities in IT and highlights the different ethical perceptions of male and female students. These insights are particularly significant as the ethical beliefs and perceptions that students have may influence their ethical behaviors during their working careers.

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