Unintended Consequences of Definitions of IT Professionals

Unintended Consequences of Definitions of IT Professionals

Wendy Cukier (Ryerson University, Canada)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch187
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Attention to women’s low participation in information technology is framed in Canada and elsewhere in terms of concern over availability of well-qualified human resources (ITAC & IDC, 2002) as well as equity issues (Applewhite, 2002; Ramsey & McCorduck, 2005). In most of these discussions, IT Professional is equated with Computer Scientist or Engineer in spite of the evidence that the profession is more diverse. This article suggests that while those directions are worthwhile, the very definition of “information technology professional” framed in the discourse may have unintended consequences which tend to exclude women. Framed by the literatures on gender and institutionalization of professions, this article applies critical discourse analysis to a variety of “texts” concerning the IT profession in Canada as well as available empirical data. Critical discourse analysis focuses on surfacing the political structures which underlie taken for granted assumptions (Fairclough, 1995). We maintain that while it is critically important to continue to attract females to study computer science and engineering, it is equally important to ensure that multiple paths are available and respected and that narrow definitions are not systemic barriers to the participation of women in the IT profession. In addition, more inclusive definitions which broaden the perspective on information technology (and match the reality of the industry) will promote good technology practices.

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