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Studying Gender, ICTs & Development using New Institutionalism Sharon Morgan, IDPM. background & rationale scope & perspectives on gender, technology & development New Institutionalism as a conceptual framework practical research issues. Background & Rationale.

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studying gender icts development using new institutionalism sharon morgan idpm
Studying Gender, ICTs & Development using New InstitutionalismSharon Morgan, IDPM
  • background & rationale
  • scope & perspectives on gender, technology & development
  • New Institutionalism as a conceptual framework
  • practical research issues
background rationale
Background & Rationale

the importance of ICTs for development:

  • information access and ownership
  • opportunities for economic growth and diversification
  • predictions: greatest potential for global job creation are within the core ICT sector, and that these will become the most valued occupations (ILO in Hafkin & Taggart, 2001)
  • recognised need for ICT professional workforce to develop local content software to design, develop and maintain both the ICT infrastructure and its software content (Chapman and Slaymaker 2002)
background rationale1
Background & Rationale

the importance of men’s and women’s participation:

  • women are recognised as a key economic resource but face “…systematic discrimination ... in accessing basic technologies and resources...”
  • importance of increasing women’s share of waged employment is a recognised poverty reduction strategy
  • an ICT industry using half the available talent and creativity poses an economic problem
  • a technology “.. marketed by men for men..“ threatens the effective deployment of ICTs, and risksrelegating women to being only users rather than shapers
background rationale2
Background & Rationale

the problem: women’s participation

  • impact of globalisation on the gender division of labour in developing countries has been generally negative (Hafkin and Taggart, 2001; Randriamaro, 2002)
  • female participation in science and technology world-wide is lower than males at all levels (Derbyshire 2003) More technically and cognitively oriented, better-paying ICT jobs rely heavily on an educational background in science and technology
  • in 2001 only 5.5% of senior government officials in charge of ICT in developing countries were women (Hafkin & Taggart, 2001)
engagement with icts
Engagement with ICTs

As well as access to ICT resources, full engagement with the technology covers participation in:

  • the decision-making and control of ICT deployment
  • the design and use of hardware and software
  • the design and form of the information content
  • the training and education programmes available for technology users and designers

and consideration of:

  • the employment conditions and opportunities available
  • the nature of education and training programmes
perspectives scope
Perspectives & Scope

Perspectives vary from a focus on the individual to a focus on the context in which women exist

Feminist perspectives:

  • gender as variable
  • feminist standpoint
  • post-structuralist/post-modern/post-feminist
  • critical-interpretive
perspectives scope1
Perspectives & Scope

Gender and Development:

  • women in development (WID)
  • women and development (WAD)
  • gender and development (GAD)
  • women, environment and development (WED)
  • southern theoretical perspectives
perspectives scope2
Perspectives & Scope

Gender and Technology:

  • women in technology
  • technology as culture (Henwood 1993)
  • gender & technology as socially defined (Cockburn 1985)
  • experience of daily life (Rowbotham 1995)
  • technofeminism (Wajcman 2004)
perspectives scope3
Perspectives & Scope

Additionally, multiple gender roles need to be considered:

  • reproductive roles (childcare responsibilities)
  • productive roles (income-generating responsibilities)
  • community roles (often unpaid))

and the different types of gender needs: (Moser cited in Reeves and Baden 2000, p14)

  • practical needs: "… needs identified by women to assist their survival in their socially accepted roles, within existing power structures."
  • strategic needs: "… needs identified by women that require strategies for challenging male dominance and privilege"
perspectives scope4
Perspectives & Scope

Adopting a suitable gender perspective for researching ICT-based enterprises/projects, the following need to be accommodated:

  • the non-gender-neutral nature of technology,
  • ICT engagement goes beyond mere participation,
  • engagement with ICTs appears to be universally gendered (ie. women globally appear to share a marginalised position), and
  • gender relations are embedded in their environmental context
technofeminism wajcman 2006 2004
TechnoFeminism [Wajcman 2006, 2004]
  • rooted in socio-technical studies

=> technical artifacts are socially shaped and “a technological system is never merely technical: its real-world functioning has technical, economic, organizational, political and even cultural elements.”

  • but extends beyond design and production and incorporates a gender dimension
  • recognises a mutual shaping between technology & gender

=>sees “engagement with the process of technological change as key to the renegotiation of gender power relations”

=> argues “technology is both a source and a consequence of gender relations” which provides a space for agency in transforming technology

  • recognises the interpretive flexibility of technology

“ different groups of people involved in a technology can have very different understandings of that technology….the users can radically alter the meanings and deployment of technologies.”

new institutionalism
New Institutionalism

Institutions (North 1990; Scott 1995; Lowndes 1996; Santos 2005)

  • humanly-devised constraints (structures) that shape human interaction and agency, where constraints are

- rules, norms, procedures that govern behaviour

- enforcement mechanisms & sanctions (for non-compliance)

  • arise to reduce uncertainty (choice?) in human interaction by providing a stable (but not necessarily efficient) framework
  • have legitimacy (valued in themselves beyond the preferences of individuals) and show stability over time
  • can be formal (eg. economic/political/judicial rules, formal agreements, etc)or informal (eg. Interpretations/modifications to formal rules, norms of socially accepted behavior etc)
  • are dynamic (can be changed over time)
  • are embedded within a particular context, space and time
new institutionalism1
New Institutionalism
  • are shared within a particular community/organisation

=> convey a social dimension

  • serve those with bargaining power

=> convey a political dimension

  • are dynamic (can be transformed to bring about change)
  • have 3 interacting components which can impact on actors differently (adapted from Scott 1995 cited in Bresser et al 2003)

Regulative:formal & informal rules, violations, sanctions,etc

Normative: norms & values desirable/appropriate/correct behaviour, moral obligations

Cognitive: internal to individual, ‘taken-for-granted’ness, interests

Coercive pressures

Social pressures

Cognitive pressures

new institutionalism as a framework
New Institutionalism as a Framework
  • accommodates contextual nature of human interaction with technology
  • recognises social and political dimensions (cultural norms, power relations and structures, etc)
  • recognises interpretetive nature of agency/choice
  • recognises different “layers” of pressurising structure
  • accommodates agency and (transformative) change
researching women ict professionals in a development context
Researching Women ICT professionals in a development context

Sample research question: What is it about technical ICT work that appears to turn women off/exclude them?

=> what factors are external to the individual? Are these regulatory (eg. working hours and conditions) or normative (eg. social expectation & view of gendered work, family pressure, cultural restrictions on working environment for females)?

=> what factors are internal to the individual? What personal assumptions/values/beliefs are they based on (eg. views on nature of technical work, preferences)?

=> what [compensating] strategies has she used to address barriers?

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