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TOOLS AND TOYS : Communicating gendered positions towards technology

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With the rising importance of technology in the information and knowledge society, the gender-technology relationship is ever more important when thinking about gender equality. Gender researchers have shown not only that the use and design of technologies is gendered, but that people also position themselves in relation to technology, based on certain gendered assumptions about technology in societies. This article looks at how people working in quintessential information and knowledge society professions, namely information communication technology (ICT) work, position themselves in relation to technology. Using a social constructivist framework and a discourse analysis, it shows how gender differences are achieved in communication: men tend to describe technology as a toy, while women tend to describe technology as a tool. In some instances this pattern is broken, which opens up the opportunity to rethink the gender binary. This article argues that the way in which people position themselves in relation to technology continues to be gendered, which may threaten gender equality in the information and knowledge society, and it also indicates that there is the possibility of change.
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Keywords: Gender; ICTs; discourse analysis; technology; work

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Lehman Brothers Centre for Women in Business, London Business School, London, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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