The growing trend toward outsourcing, off shoring, and dispersion of work across national boundaries means that students entering the workforce in the twenty-first century must be prepared to deal with a global client base and global colleagues. Part of this preparation includes understanding the gender diversity of colleagues, clients and users with whom people will be working -- both virtually and face-to-face -- to develop, deploy and use information technology solutions. As such, part of one’s preparation for a career as an information technology (IT) professional needs to include an understanding of gender as it relates to the information technology field.
Understanding the gender and cultural diversity of both colleagues and users has ramifications for the way in which work is accomplished, user requirements for technology are understood, and interaction with computer-based tools is accomplished. However, to varying degrees around the world, women and gender minorities are underrepresented in the information technology field. They are under represented both in the information technology workforce and in the conceptualization of the IT user. Similarly, a dominant model of masculinity is associated with technology development, deployment and use. For these reasons, it is necessary for those working in the IT field to have an understanding of gender issues in order to have a complete understanding of users, and to work productively with colleagues.
This course integrates the field of gender studies with information technology (IT) studies. It provides an overview, analysis and critique of current issues related to gender and IT. It also introduces and critiques theories that are used to better understand and analyze the issues. In the process of doing so, this course shows how different theories affect the ways in which gender issues are understood and addressed in the information technology field. At the end of the course students will have a basic understanding of gender theories that are employed in the information technology field, and how socio-cultural factors of a country affect the role of women and men in it. A combination of learning approaches are used in this course, including: lectures, guest presentations, case studies, scenario analysis, independent research and personal reflection.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will understand:
- The difference between biological sex and gender
- The rationale for gender diversity in the information technology sector
- The dimensions of the gender imbalance in the information technology sector
- The ways in which the IT field is influenced by gender stereotypes about masculinity and femininity
- Gender theories that are used to explain the gender imbalance in the IT field
- Issues affecting the recruitment of women and gender minorities into the IT field
- Issues affecting the retention of women and gender minorities in the IT field
- Educational and workplace interventions being implemented to address the under representation of women and gender minorities in the IT sector
- The influence of a country’s socio-cultural factors on the recruitment and retention of women and gender minorities in the IT sector