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The Social Construction of Australian Women in IT

The Social Construction of Australian Women in IT
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Author(s): Sue Nielsen (Griffith University, Australia) and Liisa von Hellens (Griffith University, Australia)
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 7
Source title: Encyclopedia of Gender and Information Technology
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Eileen M. Trauth (Pennsylvania State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch174


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The declining participation of women in IT education and professional work is now a well-documented research area (Adam, Howcroft, & Richardson, 2004), but the causes and remedies remain puzzling and complex. Studies have indicated that there are signs of the “shrinking pipeline” (Camp, 1997) even in the years between junior and senior high school (i.e., Meredyth, Russell, Blackwood, & Thomas, 1999) when girls’ interest and confidence in the use of computers declines markedly. A lack of clarity as to what constitutes the IT industry and the rapid rate of change complicate attempts to understand the reasons for the declining participation of women in the IT industry, as well as the declining interest in IT degrees. This is despite the fact that IT salaries compare well with other professional salaries and are superior to most traditional female occupations (Megalogenis, 2003). Our research also demonstrates that many people—especially women—enter the IT workforce via other qualifications indicating that traditional IT education is not very successful in attracting either the quantity or quality of students required to meet workforce needs. Furthermore, IT has not matched the rise in female participation in the traditionally male-dominated professions of science, engineering, and medicine.

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