Women in Information Communication Technologies

Women in Information Communication Technologies

Olca Surgevil (Dokuz Eylul University, Turkey) and Mustafa F. Özbilgin (Brunel Business School, Brunel University, UK and Université Paris-Dauphine, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-759-3.ch006
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Women In Ict Sector

After the information technology boom in the 1990s, an extremely high demand for IT workers occurred in the United States (Little, 1999; Forson&Ozbilgin, 2003). There was an increase in the number of women using Information Communication Technologies (ICTs). But the same cannot be said for the working women in ICT professions. It is possible to have an optimistic view when we talk about women and ICT (women as users), but the pessimistic view becomes more dominant when we talk about women in ICT (women within the ICT professions) (Faulkner&Lie, 2007).

Women account for about 25% of technology workers in the European workforce, and about 20% in the United States workforce. While the majority of women are employed in routine and speciality requiring work fields, men are engaged in analytical and managerial fields. Also only 5% of upper management posts in IT industry are held by women. Unfortunately, the pace is changing rather slowly in women’s access to jobs in ICT sectors (US Department of Labor, 1975–1990).

There are several pioneering women professionals in the history of IT. For example, 150 years ago Ada Lovelace developed the conceptual framework for programming; 60 years ago six women programmed the first electronic computing machine, the ENIAC; 50 years ago Grace Hopper developed the first compiler. But today, only a small proportion of highly paid and interesting jobs are held by women in this sector (Gutek, 2006).

Although there is a tendency to consider gender as a minor issue in adoption of technology, access and use of computers; today there is recognition that engagement with ICT is still gendered in several ways (Selwyn, 2007). In other words, despite earlier suggestions that IT would be less sex-typed than other sectors, today we can see that IT is as sex-typed as other traditional sectors (Gutek, 2006).

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