Journal of Information Systems Education (JISE)

Volume 13

Volume 13 Number 1, Pages 7-16

Spring 2002

Gender and Information Technology: Implications of Definitions

Wendy Cukier
Denise Shortt
Irene Devine

Ryerson University
Toronto, ON M5B 2K3, Canada

Abstract: This paper examines implications of definitions of information technology to women's participation in the industry and in academe. It is exploratory only, based on a review of selected government and industry reports and data related to IT education and the profession. However, it argues that there is evidence to suggest that discourse related to information technology has the effect of excluding women and multi-disciplinary perspectives. On the one hand, there is considerable evidence that the IT industry and skills it demands are multi-disciplinary and that many people working in the industry, particularly women, come from a variety of disciplines. On the other hand, despite the evidence of the multidimensional nature of IT, the impact of convergence, the importance of matching IT solutions to user needs and so on, a very narrow definition of IT dominates the discourse. This definition equates IT and IT professionals with computer science and engineering, disciplines which are predominately male. The result, then of this narrow definition is to marginalize women and their contributions. This is a pattern that has been observed with the development of other disciplines such as medicine. Not only does the narrowing of the definition of Information Technology tend to exclude and devalue the contribution of women but it also results in marginalization of other disciplines that would bring more “neutral” or “critical” perspectives to bear on technology. Thus the exclusion of multiple disciplines and women may contribute to poor technology decision-making at the societal and organizational level.

Keywords: Gender, Information technology, Institutional theory, Human resources

Download this article: JISE - Volume 13 Number 1, Page 7.pdf

Recommended Citation: Cukier, W., Shortt, D., & Devine, I. (2002). Gender and Information Technology: Implications of Definitions. Journal of Information Systems Education, 13(1), 7-16.