Gender and Telework in Information Technology

Gender and Telework in Information Technology

Paula F. Saddler, Donald D. Davis, Katherine A. Selgrade, Debra A. Major
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-87828-991-9.ch132
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Information technology (IT) work is often distributed geographically through practices such as teleworking. Telework lends itself well to IT workers because they work easily with information technology, which is required for telework, and because many IT jobs consist of knowledge work—the creation and analysis of symbols and ideas—which may be done anywhere and anytime. Advances in information technology make distributed work possible. Globalization and the need for organization flexibility make distributed work necessary (Davis, 1995). Organizations distribute work to take advantage of scarce and inexpensive talent, enhance innovation and product design, and to reduce real estate costs, development time, and labor costs. Workers choose distributed work to balance work and life demands, reduce commuting time, accommodate disabilities, and take advantage of distant opportunities. Telework, a form of distributed work first described by Nilles (1975), has established itself throughout the United States. We discuss telework trends and provide some data describing teleworkers in IT professions in the United States. Four forms of telework are commonly used (see Key Terms; Bailey & Kurland, 2002; Kurland & Bailey, 1999). Most teleworkers use a combination of these forms, although home-based telework is most prevalent (Davis & Polonko, 2001). Each form of telework is practiced for different reasons and produces different work experiences and outcomes (Bailey & Kurland, 2002; Davis & Polonko, 2003; Helling, 2000). A national survey of telework practices in the United States was conducted in 2001 under sponsorship of the International Telework Association and Council (ITAC) and AT&T (Davis & Polonko, 2001). The sample was stratified to represent all U.S. households and was diverse with respect to gender, ethnicity, occupation, organization size, and industry. Results showed that there are approximately twenty-eight million teleworkers in the U.S. Compared to nonteleworkers, teleworkers are significantly more likely to be from the Northeast and West, male (54% of teleworkers), have higher education and income, work in professional/managerial occupations, work in industries such as construction, professional/ scientific/technical services, health care/social assistance, and work in very small and very large organizations. There were no significant differences in telework practice for marital status, race/ethnicity, and age.

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