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CARTOGRAPHY OF GENDER EQUALITY PROJECTS IN ICT: Liberal equality from the perspective of situated equality

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This paper examines gender equality activities in the context of information and communication technology (ICT), traces the social and cultural relations that intertwine with them and discusses the understandings of gender, equality and ICT maintained in them. The aim of the paper is to analyse how liberal equal treatment actions prevail in ICT, although it is well known that liberal politics alone do not succeed in promoting gender equality, and not even in fulfilling its own goal of raising the proportions of women in technology. The study is based on oral history interviews with 30 women who have committed important parts of their lives to gender equality activities through several decades, as well as follow-up studies of women's ICT groups that aimed to promote equality in ICT expertise, both of these studies being conducted in Finland. The interviewed gender equality workers are competent promoters of gender and equality. However, they need to negotiate their aims, for example, in order to get funding, within national and transnational institutional practices, with actors who have little knowledge regarding the social construction of gender, equality or ICT. The managerial terms 'efficiency' and 'good practice' then take over the understandings of the gender equality activities in ICT, mainly organized as projects, and further emphasize the measurable goals often linked to liberal gender equality actions. These terms have material consequences and while gender equality projects continue to provide possibilities for unexpected changes, they are locked within liberal politics.
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Keywords: Gender equality; gender and ICT; gender equality projects; liberal equality; situated equality; understandings of equality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Women's Studies, University of Tampere, Finland 2: Department of Education, University of Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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