Third World Femenist Perspectives on Information Technology

Third World Femenist Perspectives on Information Technology

Lynette Kvasny (The Pennsylvania State University, USA) and Jing Chong (The Pennsylvania State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch184
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Abstract

Historically, information systems (IS) researchers have conducted empirical studies of gender and information technology (IT) in business organizations. These studies cover a wide range of topics such as the under-representation of women in the IT workforce (von Hellens, Nielsen, & Trauth, 2001) and the educational pipeline, which prepares women for careers in computer-related fields (Camp, 1997; Symonds, 1999). IS researchers have generally embraced an essentialist approach to examine gender differences in the adoption and use of IT (Gefen & Straub, 1997; Venkatesh & Morris, 2000), career selection (Joshi & Kuhn, 2001; Nielsen, von Hellens, Greenhill, & Pringle, 1998), employment experiences (Gallivan, 2003; Sumner & Niederman, 2002; Sumner & Werner, 2001), and employment outcomes (Baroudi & Igbaria, 1997). More recently, however, researchers have adopted anti-essentialist stances and extended IS gender studies to include individual differences among women (Trauth, 2002; Trauth, Quesenberry, & Morgan, 2004), as well as race and ethnicity (Kvasny & Trauth, 2002; Tapia & Kvasny, 2004; Tapia, Kvasny, & Trauth, 2004). In this growing body of scholarship, a few researchers have argued persuasively for the inclusion of feminist epistemologies in IS research (Adam & Richardson, 2001; Henwood, 2000; Kvasny, Greenhill, & Trauth, 2005). These proponents contend that feminist epistemologies provide theoretical and methodological insights for studying gender as a complex and multidimensional construct for understanding the use, management, and regulation of IT in multiple domains such as business organizations, households, reproductive health, built environments, and the military (MacKenzie & Wacjman, 1991; Ormrod, 1994). Feminist scholars have also called for research that considers not only gender, but also the intersection of racial, ethnic, and class identities (Kvasny, forthcoming). In this article, we adopt a third world feminist perspective to examine perceptions of IT held by black women in Kenya and the U.S. In what follows, we defining third world feminism, especially as it relates to women in the African Diaspora. Next, we discuss our research methodology, which consists of interviews with women in both settings. We conclude by presenting our findings and implications for future research.

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