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CELEBRATING HETEROGENEITY?: A survey of female ICT professionals in England

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This paper introduces key findings from a large-scale, online survey of women in the ICT industry across England undertaken between October 2004 and October 2005. Placed in a theoretical framework which draws on critical perspectives from within information systems (IS), and the sociology of gender and of technology, the authors examine some of the issues faced by female ICT professionals. The context for this paper is the ongoing under-representation of women in the ICT industry in England, and the difficulties that the industry is having retaining women, particularly at senior levels. Data are presented on the demographic composition of women in the ICT industry in England. In addition the authors focus on their management of domestic and caring responsibilities, including changes in working practices they have experienced as a result of these responsibilities. These data are particularly pertinent given current government and industry debates regarding the 'work-life balance' and 'flexible working' in the ICT industry, partially as a response to the need for a more diverse ICT workforce. Alongside information on the career histories of female ICT professionals, the authors review their perceptions of pay and reward packages, working environments, the skills they hold, and the recognition they may or may not receive in their current posts. They present reports of a 'long-hours' and 'presenteeism' culture in the ICT industry, and the existence of gendered informal networks in ICT. They also examine female ICT professionals' perceptions of the current and future-possible image of the industry. The findings highlight the continued masculinization of ICT work, and some of the difficulties faced by women working in what remain statistically and symbolically male-dominated environments.
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Keywords: Female ICT professionals; heterogeneity; masculinized domain

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Salford Business School, University of Salford, Manchester, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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