Challenging Dualisms in Female Perceptions of IT Work

Jenine Beekhuyzen, Sue Nielsen, Liisa von Hellens

Abstract


This paper explores the way that professional women working in the IT industry discuss the nature of their work and it is suggested that the way women talk about their work reinforces widely held impressions of the Information Technology industry. Structuration theory illuminated how this talk is not always consistent with the womens' lived experiences. The interview data revealed contradictions in these dualisms, indicating that these polarised views of women and IT work are being undermined by women in the IT industry. This paper suggests that mentoring, interactions with professional IT organisations, and professional IT women talking to females in their IT education years can give new ideas to the perceptions of IT and thus challenge these dualisms. The interviews were coded using NUD*IST, which allowed the researchers to explore the interviewees perceptions of IT work. In this paper, the perceptions of the interviewees are discussed as structures of signification that need to be altered in order to successfully challenge these dualisms. It is suggested that exposing females in their IT education years to the professional IT women who are challenging these dualisms is an essential part of transforming these structures of signification. This research is part of an ongoing project (WinIT) commenced in 1995, which seeks to understand the declining female participation in IT education and work. In order to have a better understanding of the way women help configure the institutional realm of IT work, we propose that more qualitative studies of women at work in IT as well as women talking about IT are needed.

Keywords


gender; perception; structuration; qualitative

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3127/ajis.v10i2.157

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ISSN: Online: 1326-2238 Hard copy: 1449-8618
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