Gender Inclusion in the Information Society

Gender Inclusion in the Information Society

Wendy Faulkner (University of Edinburgh, Scotland) and Merete Lie (Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch098
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Strategies of Inclusion Gender and the Information Society (SIGIS) was a European study exploring initiatives to include more women in the information society.1 This article summarises its main conclusions. The work started from the premise that overall more women than men are excluded from the information society, both as users and as designers of new information and communications technologies (ICTs). Our literature review (Sørensen & Stewart, 2002) confirmed that there is still a gender gap in terms of ownership of some ICT products and, to a lesser extent, in terms of access and use. Gender cuts across other dynamics in the digital divide—income, occupation and age being generally more significant than gender—with other factors (e.g., ethnic minorities, lone parent families) also intervening. Although the trend with respect to the use of ICT products is one of a closing gender gap, it is clear that diffusion alone is not sufficient to close the gap all together; inclusion efforts are still warranted in this area. By contrast, the literature review revealed a persistent and sizeable gender gap within computer specialisms and professions designing ICTs. The proportion of women entering computer science and engineering courses in most countries is static or in decline, in spite of sustained inclusion efforts. So, the overall picture across Europe is a contradictory one: optimistic with respect to what we call women and ICT (users), and pessimistic with respect to women in ICT (professionals).

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