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Women and Recruitment to the IT Profession in the UK

Women and Recruitment to the IT Profession in the UK
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Author(s): Ruth Woodfield (University of Sussex, UK)
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.ch195

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Abstract

Early commentary on the development of the field of Computing and its relationship to women was generally optimistic in tone. Many early software workers were female, and the associations of computing with a qualitatively different, and cutting-edge, technological domain, caused projections that women would comfortably enter professional Computing work in a manner unparalleled for scientific and technological occupations (Faulkner, 2002; Woodfield, 2000). The rationalisations shaping the decision of early female entrants to the field often mirrored those buoying up the optimism of commentators. An established female computer professional in the late 1980s, for instance, reported applying for her first job within the IT sector a decade earlier because she had believed the area to be “one of the first businesses with no sex prejudice” (Cowan, cited in The Guardian, 1989). A review of the literature that chronicled the actual movement of women into IT work cross-nationally since these early predictions, however, leaves little doubt that women were quickly established as the under represented party within IT roles. As Elizabeth Gerver suggested at the close of the 1980s, Computing effectively became established as a “strangely single-gendered world,” and although women’s under-representation may have varied “from sector to sector and to some extent from country to country,” the evidence of its male-domination and, indeed, its maleness, became so ubiquitous that it tended “to become monotonous” (1989, p. 483). A large body of work has underpinned the ongoing legitimacy of this observation since the 1980s (Faulkner, 2002; Hall, 2004; Millar & Jagger, 2001; Peters, Lane, Rees, & Samuels, 2003; Woodfield, 2000).

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