This is the
assumption of those who tend to seek the solution to the gender
gap exclusively through improving access to new technologies and
training, broadening the scope of education programmes for adults.
Many are persuaded that gender differences will disappear with
time, encouraged by the early introduction of children to new
technologies at school. However, research in countries where computer
use has been widely introduced at school, at home and at work
since the 1980s suggests several different considerations. As
the theoretical review indicates:
products are the outcome of specific relationships of production
and reflect the specific orientations and interests of those
groups that are implicated in the process of their production.
These are generally speaking constituted by white, middle-class
men in core countries. This means that gender (along with
other forms of identification such as class and race) becomes
'inscribed' in technological systems. In other words, technological
objects embody specific views of the objects' uses and actions
associated with them, of the actors that will be involved
in their use and the space within which the actions will take
place (Adam 1998). This emphasis on context and social construction
challenges the idea of a purely technical domain that can
be laid bare by extracting the various layers of social factors.
As far as information technologies are concerned, women's presence
in research and production centres is limited and has shown little
or no improvement over the last years. On the contrary, as early
as the 1980s it was noted that in the United States and Great Britain
there was a decline in the number of women taking advanced computer
science courses. The consequence of this decline is a projected
parallel decrease in the number of women occupying higher positions
in education and production.
is the appropriation of technology by men that renders them
male and less attractive to women.
However, the fact that information technologies are associated with
men does not imply that women shun them.
is important to recognise that different systems of technology
have different trajectories and represent different interests.
This means that women, for example, may react quite differently
in respect of different technologies defined as 'male'. More
generally, we cannot automatically assume that women will
reject a technological system because it is perceived as male.
Instead, women may aspire to acquire certain skills precisely
because they are defined as valuable (and male or associated
with men) (Adam 1998).
certainly the case of women who encounter new information technology
at work and those who wish to enter or re-enter the labour market.