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GENDER, COMPUTING AND THE ORGANIZATION OF WORKING TIME: Public/private comparisons in the Australian context

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Professional computing employment in Australia, as in most advanced economies, is highly sex segregated, reflecting well-rehearsed ideas regarding the masculinity of technology and computing culture. In this paper we are concerned with the processes of work organization that sustain and reproduce this gendered occupational distribution, focusing in particular on differences and similarities in working-time arrangements between public and private sectors in the Australian context. While information technology companies are often highly competitive workplaces with individualized working arrangements, computing professionals work in a wide range of organizations with different regulatory histories and practices. Our goal is to investigate the implications of these variations for gender equity outcomes, using the public/private divide as indicative of different regulatory frameworks. We draw on Australian census data and a series of organizational case studies to compare working-time arrangements in professional computing employment across sectors, and to examine the various ways employees adapt and respond. Our analysis identifies a stronger 'long hours culture' in the private sector, but also underlines the rarity of part-time work in both sectors, and suggests that men and women tend to respond in different ways to these constraints. Although the findings highlight the importance of regulatory frameworks, the organization of working time across sectors appears to be sustaining rather than challenging gender inequalities in computing employment.
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Keywords: Gender; computing; pay equity; public sector; working time

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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