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A Cyberfeminist Utopia?: Perceptions of Gender and Computer Science among Malaysian Women Computer Science Students and Faculty



The low and shrinking numbers of women in higher computer science educa- tion is a well-known problem in most Western countries. The dominant Western perception of the relationship between gender and computer science codes the latter as "masculine," and the low number of women is seen at least partly as an effect of that coding. Malaysia represents a different case. There are large numbers of women in computer science, and computer science is not perceived as "masculine." Rather, it is deemed as providing suitable jobs and good careers for women. This reflects an understanding of gender where femininities are constructed by association to office work, commonly recog- nized as a woman-friendly space because it is seen as more safe and protected than, for example, construction sites and factories. The findings suggest that gender and computer science may be more diversely coproduced than commonly believed in Western research.
Science, Technology & Human
The online version of this article can be found at:
DOI: 10.1177/0162243907306192
December 2007
2008 33: 5 originally published online 10Science Technology Human Values
Vivian Anette Lagesen
Science among Malaysian Women Computer Science Students and
A Cyberfeminist Utopia? : Perceptions of Gender and Computer
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A Cyberfeminist Utopia?
Perceptions of Gender and
Computer Science among
Malaysian Women Computer
Science Students and Faculty
Vivian Anette Lagesen
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
The low and shrinking numbers of women in higher computer science educa-
tion is a well-known problem in most Western countries. The dominant Western
perception of the relationship between gender and computer science codes
the latter as “masculine,” and the low number of women is seen at least partly
as an effect of that coding. Malaysia represents a different case. There are
large numbers of women in computer science, and computer science is not
perceived as “masculine.” Rather, it is deemed as providing suitable jobs and
good careers for women. This reflects an understanding of gender where
femininities are constructed by association to office work, commonly recog-
nized as a woman-friendly space because it is seen as more safe and protected
than, for example, construction sites and factories. The findings suggest that
gender and computer science may be more diversely coproduced than commonly
believed in Western research.
Keyw ords: computer science; gender; technofeminism; cyberfeminism; cyborg
uch research has explored the gender-technology relationship to
analyze how women have been excluded from technological fields and
how gendered perceptions and values have worked to shape design as well
as use of technologies. A common claim across an otherwise diverse body
of research has been that this exclusion has been produced through a strong
relationship between technoscience and men’s performance of masculinities
(Cockburn 1983, 1985; Cockburn and Ormrod 1993; Faulkner 2000; Fergus
1993; Hacker 1989, 1990; Lie 1998; Mellström 1995; Robinson and McIlwee
1991; Wajcman 1991, 2004). An exclusion focus has also dominated studies
of the gendering of computer science, which have primarily explained the
Science, Technology, &
Human Values
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January 2008 005-027
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low and declining number of women in higher computer science education
in most Western countries through two types of deficit models (Lagesen 2005,
14-18): women’s deficits (e.g., Brosnan 1998; Borge et al. 1980; Durndell
et al. 2000; Kramer and Lehman 1990; Maccoby and Jacklin 1974; Siann
1997) and deficits in the educational practices of computer science and its
student culture (e.g., Cohoon 2002, 2006; Gabbert and Meeker 2002; Lagesen
2005; Margolis and Fisher 2002; Roberts, Kassiandou, and Irani 2002;
Townsend 2002). Furthermore, discriminatory practices and other minority
problems have been identified as produced within the culture of computer
science (e.g., Dambrot et al. 1985; Spertus 1991; Teague 2000). Finally, the
image of computer science has been viewed as “masculine” and thus prone
to exclude women (e.g., Corneliussen 2002; Edwards 1990; Henwood 2000;
Kvande and Rasmussen 1989; Mörtberg 1987; Stepulevage and Plumeridge
1998; Wright 1996).
The weakness of this kind of negative-critical analysis is illuminated when
we encounter the case of Malaysia. Here, women constitute about half of
all students in higher computer science education (Lagesen 2005; Ng 1999;
Othman and Latih 2006). Thus, the exclusion thesis appears quite misplaced.
When so few Western women study computer science, the palpable question
is, how come many Malaysian women do? This article aims to explore how
the Malaysian situation is different by analyzing how Malaysian women
reasoned about their decision to study computer science—not to explain the
difference between their decision-making and that of Western women. Why
did Malaysian women make this choice? Did they see computer science as
gendered, and if so, in what way?
Because of the exclusion dominance in previous research, we know little
about why the few Western women who actually study computer science do
so. In a North American context, Margolis and Fisher characterized women
computer science students as the “survivors of the ‘boy’s club’ of high school
computing” (2002, 49). They were skilled and interested in the technical
aspects of computing and derived pleasure from logical thinking. A major
influence was parents’ careers, interest, and support (see also Teague 2000).
Furthermore, Margolis and Fisher observed the importance of “pillars of
persistence” like believing in hard work rather than in talent and exercising
resistance toward the “male hacker-culture.” Similarly, Trauth (2002) found
that women who chose to study computer science were a diverse group,
exposed to different sociocultural influences and experiences and with
different ways to handle their situation. However, they shared being an “odd
girl out” as women in a field that was dominated by men and also, by impli-
cation, looked upon as a “masculine.” What, then, happens when women are
not a minority in computer science as is the case in Malaysia?
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Cyberfeminism, Cyborg Feminism,
and Technofeminism
The large proportion of women studying computer science in Malaysia
challenges the way Western feminist research has theorized the gender-
technology relationship in terms of exclusion. Do we need to understand
this relationship in a different way, or does previous Western research still
offer fruitful frames of analysis? Is the Malaysian situation less utopian
than one could believe?
Judy Wajcman’s (2004) recent review of research on gender and techno-
science outlines four different frames of analysis, covering the main theore-
tical positions in this field today. Can they work as accounting resources to
understand the high number of women in computer science in Malaysia?
The first frame, “technoscience reconfigured,” represents the initial feminist
effort to analyze the gender-technology relationship. A main achievement was
the transformation of studies of technoscience from gender-blind to gender-
aware (Cockburn 1983, 1985). While celebrating the importance of this
research in shaping feminist perceptions of technoscience, Wajcman notes
several weaknesses of this frame, above all its tendency toward essentialism.
The second frame has emerged under the label of cyberfeminism (see, e.g.,
Flanagan and Booth 2002; Hawthorne and Klein 1999; Bell and Kennedy
2000; Kirkup et al. 2000; Reiche and Kuni 2004). The term encompasses a
range of approaches to analyze the relationship between information and
communication technologies (ICT) and gender, which claim to observe
progress of women in new technological arenas such as the World Wide
Web (Kennedy 2000). While contributions designated or proclaimed to be
cyberfeminist are diverse, they share an optimism concerning women’s
computer-based activities, above all related to the use of the Internet and
net-based ways of communicating (Kennedy 2000; Wajcman 2004; see also
Woodfield 2000).
While most cyberfeminists do not deny that there are processes that tend
to exclude women (Hawthorne and Klein 1999; Spender 1995), they also see
that many women have become highly motivated and skilled cybercitizens
(see, e.g., Wakeford 2003). Sadie Plant (1996) offers perhaps the most promi-
nent and optimistic cyberfeminist visions. Women, computers, virtual reality,
and cyberspace, she argues, are linked together in dispersed, distributed
connections—the matrix, which, because of its inherent feminine character,
will emerge as the new society that will destroy patriarchy. However, Plant’s
visions have been criticized for essentialism, lacking critical perspective, hyping
new technologies, and overstating the women-friendliness of cyberspace
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(Adam 1997; Hawthorne and Klein 1999; Pohl 1997; Squire 1999; van
Zoonen 2002; Wajcman 2004).
A related, more pragmatic program of cyberfeminism has been called
“the communicative turn” in the use of computers. It suggests that commu-
nicative aspects of computer technologies are important to make women
interested (Nordli 2001; Silverstone and Sørensen 2005). From this perspec-
tive, women are expected to engage with the technology in a way that tran-
scends the role of users, finding particular pleasure in the communication
possibilities (Rasmussen and Håpnes 2003).
The third frame is based on Donna Haraway’s (1985, 2004) figure of the
cyborg, an implosion of human and machine. This perspective suggests a
focus on disruptions and ambiguities in relation to gender and technology.
It advocates the exploration of the women-computing relationship, while
paying particular attention to the complexities and contradictions of this
relationship. Wajcman (2004, 127) acknowledges Haraway’s sensitivity to
the cyborg’s ambiguous nature. Still, she criticizes cyborg feminism as well
as cyberfeminism for assigning too much agency to new technology and not
enough to feminist politics.
To amend this problem, Wajcman (2004) introduces the fourth frame of
analysis, technofeminism. It emphasizes the need to investigate the gendering
of new technologies to assess critically how technologies are shaped in ways
detrimental to women. Technofeminism relies on feminist political practices
in combination with feminist research to change sociotechnical networks to
include more women. According to Wajcman, this is needed, because the
culture of computing is still “predominantly the culture of white American
males” (2004, p. 112). Wajcman, nevertheless, sees opportunities for women
to be attracted to technoscientific spheres when “entry does not entail co-option
into a world of patriarchal values and behaviour” (2004, p. 112). Moreover,
she asserts that an increase in the number of women in engineering eventually
will dismantle the strong relationship between hegemonic masculinity and
the culture of engineering. This latter argument suggests that quantity is
vital to change-gendered practices, cultures, and symbols, implying that
computer science may, in fact, be gendered differently in Malaysia (see
Lagesen 2007; Sørensen and Berg 1987).
These four frames have to be used critically when analyzing women
computer science students in a non-Western country like Malaysia since they
may represent Western points of view with respect to women and technology
(see Mohanty 2002; Ong 1995; Stivens 2000). Thus, when I draw on these
frames as accounting resources in the analysis, I can also examine some of
their underlying assumptions. For this purpose, Malaysia may be a critical
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case. Using the first frame, technoscience reconsidered, the expectation would
be that Malaysian women get excluded or marginalized within computer
science. The second frame, cyberfeminism, would suggest that Malaysian
women students consider communication a major attraction of new computer
technologies, using this as a way to succeed as computer scientists. The
cyborg feminist frame invites a focus on the potentially ambiguous gains of
studying computer science, while the technofeminist frame suggests that
feminist politics or women’s struggles are essential in achieving a large
proportion of women students in computer science. Moreover, all four frames
presuppose that computer science would be gendered and that this would
be apparent from the accounts of my informants.
Malaysia—Women and Modernization
I started my research by looking for places where the number of female
and male students in computer science would be roughly equal. The rationale
was to explore the implications of such a situation with respect to percep-
tions of gender and computer science. The University of Malaya (UM) was
selected as my field site. It is a large public university situated in the capital,
Kuala Lumpur. The Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology
(FSKTM) was established in the mid-1990s. In 2001, women constituted
52 percent of the bachelor’s students in computer science and 65 percent
in information technology at FSKTM. Forty-three percent of the master’s
students, and 39 percent of the PhD students were women. While this may
look like a shrinking pipeline pattern, one has to consider that many of the
male PhD students actually were non-Malaysians. The majority of the faculty,
as well as all heads of departments and the dean, were women. This seems
a representative picture of the gender pattern in computer science education
for the whole of Malaysia for the past ten years (Othman and Latih 2006).
Two particular aspects of the Malaysian society should be mentioned
here. First, ICT has been a government priority area fueled by the rapid
economic growth in Malaysia. It has been seen as a key to a better future,
and the authorities have strongly encouraged young people to study IT for the
past fifteen years (Ng 1999, p. 144). Second, the official quota system privi-
leges indigenous Malays. It provides them with benefits in most official areas,
such as quota protection in education, scholarships, employment, training,
trade, business permits, and so on. This gives them advantages in relation to the
other large ethnic groups in Malaysia, Chinese (about 30 percent) and Indians
(about 10 percent). The government created the program to correct interethnic
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economic imbalances among the ethnic groups, but it is a sensitive and
controversial issue (Chee-Beng 1997; Luke 2002; Mellström 2003; Ng 1999).
Malaysian women constitute a diverse group in terms of ethnicity,
religion, class, and regional cultures, including urban/rural differences as well
as cultural variations within the ethnic groups (Chee-Beng 1997; Oorjitham
1984). Thus, one should be careful about making general claims. Education,
however, has played a key role in the swift modernization process and has
been instrumental in promoting “national unity” (Mellström 2003; Stivens
2000). The government made particular efforts to remedy women’s previously
disadvantageous educational position through a state-sponsored, large-scale
entry of women into mass education and industry (Ong 1995; Yun 1984).
Stivens (2000) argues that the high number of women in Malaysian higher
education shows that parents value education for daughters as much as for
sons. Moreover, women play an increasingly important role as political and
religious actors, and they also engage with regional and global feminism
(Ong 1995; Stivens 2000).
Ong asserts that Malay women have been made icons of modernity by
two competing institutions working to form different postcolonial nation-
alisms: the government and the Islamic resurgence. State-driven programs
dictated a series of tasks for women, for instance, to raise children with values
such as efficiency and self-reliance. “The official discourse on the modern
family thus defined women’s modern roles: as working daughters who could
pull their families out of ‘backwardness’ and as housewives (serirumah) who
could inculcate ‘progressive’ values in their children” (1995, p. 394). This
family model supported a more assertive role for women at home, raised
the expectations for women, and granted them new freedoms (Lie and Lund
1994; Ong 1995). However, the Islamic revivalism of the late 1970s and
the early 1980s produced a countermodel, in which the Islamic discourse
(dakwa) suggested that women should not compete with men in the labor
market. Jobs that involved serving others—for example, as clerks, teachers,
and nurses or doctors (attending women and children only)—were preferred
(Ong 1995). However, the dakwa has become much less prominent since
the mid-1980s.
A common feature of the state-driven modernity discourse and the dakwa
is the centrality of women’s role as mothers and wives. Nevertheless, there
is a potential conflict between the image of the relatively free and emancipated
working woman and the domesticated, compliant, modest Muslim woman.
According to Nagata and Salaff (1996), this has intensified the ambiva-
lence of Malay women seeking professional careers, and it inhibits a potential
common sentiment of women across ethnic lines. Both Chinese Malaysian
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and Indian Malaysian women belong to religions (Hinduism), cultures, and
moral systems (Confucianism) that are potentially paternalistic and may
suppress women’s autonomy (Armstrong 1996; Mellström 2003; Oorjitham
1984; Peng 1984). However, Chinese as well as Indian Malaysians recognize
the importance of higher education, perhaps because of their disadvantaged
situations as non-bumiputeras (Chee-Beng 1997; Mellström 2003). Also, the
Malaysian state programs’ focus on education and progress has probably
influenced all ethnic groups in Malaysia. A study of student attitudes towards
learning to use the Internet found no ethnic or gender differences, suggesting
a fairly evenly distributed interest toward ICTs among ethnic groups (Hong,
Ridzuan, and Kuek 2003).
Data were collected at UM in 2001. I interviewed twenty female students
at FSKTM. Eleven were undergraduates, and nine were master’s students
who also worked as tutors. In addition, I interviewed three heads of depart-
ments, the dean, one female lecturer, and two male master’s students. All
informants found it acceptable to be interviewed in English.
I got in touch with interviewees through one of the master’s students who
were asked to help me to meet others. Using so-called snowball sampling,
I reached more potential informants through other students. Generally, people
were willing to be interviewed. The interviews took place in different locations
on campus.
The interviews have been transcribed and analyzed according to the
main tenets of grounded theory (Corbin and Strauss 1990), emphasizing the
method of constant comparison across the empirical data (Glaser and Strauss
1968). In the presentation, illustrative quotes from the interviews have been
provided, often showing the dialogue that took place between me and my
informants. To let readers make their own interpretations, the dialogue has
been reproduced close to the original transcriptions.
The female students I interviewed were of different ethnic origins: eight
were Chinese Malaysian; three were Indian Malaysian; and the rest, including
faculty and the two male students, were Malay. Ethnicity is indicated by names.
Indian students have names that begin with an I. Chinese students have
American or Chinese names, and the rest of the names is Malay.
My informants varied in terms of age, year of study, and social background.
Since my research questions are analytical-explorative, I consider the set of
informants to be adequate even if it is not statistically representative. Although
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ethnic aspects play an important role in a wider discussion of female students
in Malaysia, not least because of the bumiputera politics (see, e.g., Luke
2002), this is not used as an accounting resource in the article. Rather, the
analysis focuses on what the informants say about themselves and how they
describe their choice of computer science, in line with the tenets of micro-
sociological, interactionist approaches. It is not an inquiry into aspects of the
wider Malaysian culture.
Consequently, context will be invoked only when the informants themselves
address it in their accounts, mainly through stories about personal experi-
ences and background. The selection has been made to provide a diversity
of voices in relation to the research questions. Also, in my analysis, the
content of the concepts of masculine and feminine are seen as continuously
produced through my informants’ account and not as having any pregiven
meaning. Thus, I use quotation marks with these concepts consistently
throughout this article.
Becoming Students of Computer Science
Most of my informants did not consider their choice of computer science
as special and as something that women in general would not consider. Rather,
they saw their choice as consistent with being women. The informants offered
quite varied narratives about their decisions. Two aspects emerged as partic-
ularly prominent: enthusiasm and instrumentalism concerning computing
and computer science. To understand the variations in the gender–computer
science relationship, we need to explore in detail how the women reasoned
around their choice of computer science. What was the role of enthusiasm
relative to instrumentalism, and how did my informants account for these
Most of the research that has investigated enthusiasm toward technology
has looked at men and the way they find pleasure in tinkering with tech-
nology, including computers (Hacker 1989, 1990; Kleif and Faulkner 2002;
Mellström 1995, 2003; Turkle 1984). Computer enthusiasm among girls or
women has been linked to communication or graphic design and informa-
tion retrieval (Rasmussen and Håpnes 2003; Kennedy 2000; Plant 1996).
However, it has also been shown to emerge from technological aspects,
including a fascination for programming (Berg 2000; Corneliussen 2002;
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Nordli 2003). Margolis and Fisher found that enjoyment of computing was
the factor most frequently mentioned among female students as their reason
to major in computer science. However, this interest went beyond technical
aspects. It was made meaningful only by invoking human and social contexts
(2002, 52). Thus, we have three different ideas of where women would find
enthusiasm for computers: in human communication, technical aspects, or
social utility. Were my Malaysian informants enthusiastic about computers,
and if so, for what reasons?
Actually, quite a few of the women were clearly interested in computers.
Some of them had even developed a profound fascination and decided to
study computer science when they were still in school, like Salina:
V: So, why did you choose to study computer science?
Salina: Maybe because I’m very interested, actually since I was in form 1.
[Standard 1-6 is primary school; form 1 to form 5 is secondary and higher
secondary school.] I used to sit and tell my mum: “I am going to be a system
analyst, or I’m going to be someone who is an expert in computers.
V: What interests you about it?
Salina: Maybe because the computer did something . . . it’s a machine and then . . .
we have to operate that . . . I don’t know . . . I just like it very much!! (laughing)
V: Did you have any experience with the computers when you were younger?
Salina: Yes, at my primary school . . . I used to learn basic programming, when
I am in standard 3 or 4, I think. I used to go to the class every week!
Salina was very enthusiastic. Salina also described the general atmosphere
in her class as very positive toward computer science. She had no notion of
computer science as a “boy thing.” In her class of fifty-fifty boys and girls,
everybody enjoyed computing.
V: Did people enjoy computer science or computer subjects in general?
Salina: Yeah. And for me, I enjoyed it very much.
V: And the other girls?
Salina: Yes, they enjoyed it very much too. Because our computer teacher—she
is so kind and very generous. She would sit besides us and say, “This is like
this, and this is like this, okay?” (Laughing)
Clearly, Salina perceived her female teacher as a role model, associating
computer science with her generous and careful guidance. This inspired
Salina to want to become a computer science teacher.
There were also informants who had been fascinated with computers
because they could be programmed to do things beyond imagination. For
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example, Haifa, who since the age of twelve, had wanted to make a robot that
could do all kind of things, including housework: “I wanted to do a machine
that can do any job . . . at that time I was twelve years old. I don’t know the
name of that machine, now I know, that machine is called robot. So, I’m
very interested to think about how to make life easier.” Haifa had completed
a bachelor’s degree four years ago. Now she was married with three children
and wanted to pursue a master’s degree in artificial intelligence.
Yin Sung was another enthusiastic computer student working on her
master’s degree. She had also been introduced to computers as a child and
had wanted to become a computer scientist since then: “I wanted to join this
computer science mostly because of my dad. I went to Pittsburgh for two
years. . . . My dad was doing his master’s there. It was very near Carnegie
Mellon, the top computer school in the world. So I was really . . . my
mom took courses there, so I was very aspired to become a computer
scientists. I was very young at the time, around 7 or 8 only. But I remember
it very well.
The interest in computers was quite often combined with an enthusiasm
for studying computer science because of good job prospects. Computer
science was seen as a path to secure well-paying jobs. Also, many of the
enthusiastic women had been encouraged by their parents, particularly
fathers, to study IT.
Clearly, these women shared an enthusiasm for computers and computer
science; some had even developed this interest quite early. However,
contrary to the cyberfeminist assumption, the enthusiasm was not related
to communication and networks. It was mainly related to the understanding of
computers and the ability to manage them, even if the capability of commu-
nication or graphic design was mentioned as well. It was also interesting to
note how most of these women combined enthusiasm with accounts that
emphasized how computer science was a sensible choice in terms of a future
career and how they took advice from parents and other family very seriously.
In a way, it was a win-win situation. What they wanted to do was sensible
and what their parents advised them to choose. Computer science did not
represent any break with paternalism, perhaps rather the opposite.
A large group of my informants had chosen computer science largely for
instrumental reasons. They had made it their first choice mainly because of
good job prospects and career opportunities. Many had also been strongly
encouraged by their parents. For example, Indrani, who was in her third and
final year in the bachelor’s program. She originally wanted to become a
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veterinarian, but her father had talked her out of that and suggested computer
science instead:
Indrani: Actually, when I wanted to come into the university, I wanted to study
veterinary science. . . . But then my father was a bit against it, because he said
it is difficult for girls to go in that line in Malaysia. So I had to agree with
him. . . . So, actually, my father suggested for me to do IT or computer
science. I was a bit interested in computers also. . . .
V: What was your father’s argument for you to study computer science?
Indrani: He said that there is a lot of job opportunities coming up. . . . He told
me, “You can have your master’s and PhD, and you can earn enough money
for your master’s and PhD.” I said like, “All right.” I am glad he told me.
Clearly, Indrani paid a lot of attention to her father’s advice. She said she
wanted to respect his wishes because of appreciation for him and what he had
done for her. The norm about following parents’ suggestions or request about
educational choice was widespread. Ah Ling started to study computer
science because she “obeyed” her father, as she said in a humoristic tone:
Hmm . . . it’s a long story (laughter). Like, I told you, right, that I like sociology.
I like psychology. Actually, these were my first choices for my undergrad.
But because my dad, he is a teacher, and he is quite realistic, so he says
that if I . . . Like, in Malaysia it is not very applicable if I study psychology.
He means, [I] cannot gain more money, but this is not true in UK and other
countries; it only applies for Malaysia. So, [that is] why my dad says: cannot!!
So I just “obey” my dad and take computer science. But that is, at that time,
a very famous course. And my brother is also in IT line. So, I think he could
help me. So I just . . . take it.
Why were the parents of these women so eager to encourage their daughters
to study computer science? One obvious suggestion is the fact that the
Malaysian government had been urging people to study IT, particularly
during the 1990s. Also, the profound priority given to a conspicuous IT
project in Malaysia, like the Multi-media Super Corridor (MSC), was prob-
ably an important backdrop of these parents’ perceptions of future job oppor-
tunities. This was suggested by Supryia. When asked about why she started,
she said, “It is because of my father’s advice. Because during that time
period it was, that was in early in 1990s . . . if I am not mistaken that was
in 1993, when the government start[ed] to urge Malaysian people to study
IT. And that’s what made my father advised me to do so, choose this field,
especially IT. So I just follow this advice, and I am quite satisfied in this
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field. I want to be a professional in computing, on IT and computer-related
fields. Another master’s student, Sadaah, had studied marketing in the United
States. She had decided to change to computer science because “Malaysia is
now turning to technology and computing. Also, she found that too many
Malaysians at her U.S. university studied marketing. She wanted to change
to IT to be more competitive.
Even if most of the women students I spoke with had been encouraged
by their parents, particularly their fathers, there were exceptions. Rafiah, a
master’s student, came from a small village in the provinces and grew up as
the oldest child in a family where no one had higher education and where
her family did not highly value having an education. They did not support
her decision to take a master’s degree. Rafiah was quite troubled when
I interviewed her. She felt a pressure from her family to finish her master’s
so she could start to work and earn money to help with their financial prob-
lems. Rafiah wanted to break away from the kind of life her parents lived
and find better opportunities through an education and a career.
The obligation and pressure to provide for younger siblings or older retired
parents was a recurrent theme among other women students, even if no one
else was in Rafiah’s situation. It was a consideration that entered their plans
for their future. Even first-year students thought about this:
V: Have any of you thought about doing a master’s?
Sheryl: I think about it, but it depends . . . on my family condition. I have to . . .
because have a brother, he is doing engineering courses at the other university,
cause there are only two of us in our family. And then my parents are already
old, if . . . after three years—because my brother have to study four year in
the engineering course—so after three years, if I graduate, I don’t work, so
how should I afford my family, my parents.
V: What about you?
Mei Wee: Mostly the same thing as her. Because I’m the oldest, and my father
is retiring soon, so after that there will be no income for my family. So, when
I graduate, I still have to support my brother, he is quite young.
Even if many of the women had been persuaded or encouraged by their
parents to study computer science, most of them found computer science to
be an interesting subject. They also acknowledged that the choice to study
computer science was sensible and wise because of the good job prospects.
However, often the women admitted that with complete freedom, they would
have elected something else. But, as Sheryl commented, “Parents always
object (laughter) if you want to learn art or music.
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An even more severe conflict of interest was evident from the interview
with Azizah, a first-year student. She had wanted to study medicine and was
not at all happy to end up in the computer science program. She was the
youngest and only daughter in her family. Her mother, who had recently died,
had wanted her to become a doctor. Since she was not admitted to medicine,
her father and brothers had persuaded her to study computer science instead.
During the interview, it became clear that Azizah was quite indignant about
this persuasion and that she was admitted to computer science instead of
medicine. For two years, she had prepared to study medicine, but Azizah
found it important to follow her father’s wish. However, she was considering
studying medicine after completing her computer science degree.
Clearly, it was not easy to go against the family’s will in the choice of edu-
cation. The norm that you should follow your family’s/parent’s/father’s wishes
out of love and respect was strong. However, the interview with Azizah also
demonstrated her anger of being put in this situation and also her agency, her
will to get out of this conflict of interest between herself and her family.
Perceptions of Gender and Computer Science
The absence of gender as an accounting resource in my informants’
narratives was striking, compared to the construction of gender and computer
science as an amalgam of men/“masculinities” and technologies so prevalent
in Western research (see, e.g., Wajcman 1991, 2004). Since men’s power
mainly seemed to be mediated through the family, the gendering of computer
science was different from Wajcman’s concept of technofeminism. So how
was computer science gendered among my informants?
A general observation was the close link between the perceptions of what
was considered “masculine” and “feminine” and the number of men and
women in the area. If an area was observed to be dominated by men, it was
perceived as “masculine.” With a sufficiently large number of women, the
field was seen as suitable for women or deemed “feminine.” However, other
symbolical aspects were also invoked when we discussed gender.
To begin with, computer science was not at all deemed “masculine.
Rather, it was described as different from areas that were considered “mas-
culine,” like engineering. Dr. Mazliza, a young head of department, put it
like this: “I never thought of computer science as a masculine subject. . . .
You know, engineering is something that people see as masculine, or geology.
But not computer science. I don’t see what is masculine about computer
science.” Computer science was frequently compared to engineering to explain
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why it was not seen as masculine. Azizah and Maimunah did this in an
interesting and illuminating way:
Maimunah: You can say that computer science . . . this computer science course
is meant to be for women instead of guys. I mean, guys usually go for engi-
neering, architecture, contractors, that kind of jobs.
V: Why?
Azizah: Out. Because it is out, not in the office, they’re doing outside.
Maimunah: They get exposed a lot.
Azizah: Exposed, yeah. More dangerous.
Maimunah: Except for us, for girls, they expect us to stay in the office, to do that
kind of work.
It seemed that the basis to characterize engineering as “masculine” was, in
addition to being an area that men often chose, that it required work outdoors.
You could be exposed to the sun and to men workers. Computer science, on
the other hand, could be considered “feminine” or at least suitable for women
because it was associated with office work. It meant working indoors,
perhaps mostly with other women. Sadaah, a master’s student, formulated
it like this: “But in Malaysia, there are many in IT science, many women
also enter now. They just like it! Yes. To do technology, right? They want to
do more. And if we work with computers, we don’t have to go out, right?
We can just sit there in the office.” The notion that to work indoors was
most suitable for women was explained by reference to security, as shown
above. Also, gender discrimination in environments dominated by men was
perceived as a potential barrier:
V: What do you consider to be the typical female subject here?
Mei Wee: Hmm . . . I think office work. Business . . . computer science . . . doctors
. . . dentist. Actually there are quite a lot of jobs for women. I think engineering
is still a male-dominated area. There are few females in engineering.
V: Why do you think it is like that?
Mei Wee: Maybe . . . for engineering, where you have to build buildings, right?
And engineers are required to go to the site to check the building constructions,
stuff like that . . . because they have to converse with the laborers. And I heard
from my friends, they say that, laborers don’t really respect women. So, it’s
better for men to go down to talk to the laborers.
V: (To Sheryl) You thought about studying engineering. Did you think of it as a
“masculine” subject?
Sheryl: Yes, but I think it is more about civil engineering. Chemical engineering
is more to the female side. Because in chemical engineering, most of the time
you work in labs, testing the stuff like that. So I think it’s quite suitable for
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females also. But for civil engineering, I never thought about that. Because,
like she said, we have to go to the site and check out the constructions. Because,
I don’t like sunlight (laughter). So, you see, I won’t choose civil engineering
Not all types of engineering were seen as “masculine”; chemical engineering
was mentioned by many as the most popular choice for women. However,
the perception of civil engineering as a clearly “masculine” field seemed
widespread (see also Mellström 2003).
Not all specialities within computer science were perceived equally suit-
able for men and women:
V: So, did any of you think of computer science to be a predominantly male
Sheryl: Not really, I think it is quite equal.
Mei Wee: But maybe on the hardware side it is more males than females,
because they have to carry the computer around, with wires and stuff.
Sheryl: Like network, we have to learn about circuits, electronic circuits; I don’t
like electronics (laughter).
V: Is that more of a male subject, you think?
All: Yeah!
V: If this is more of the male part of computer science, do you think there are
any parts that are more suitable for females?
Sheryl: I think software engineering and Management Information Systems
(MIS) is maybe more suitable for females. Because, software engineering is
more to the programming side . . . not so much about physical stuff, you
know, the electronic circuits (everyone laughing).
This way of reasoning in relation to gender and computer science was quite
common among my informants. Samantha, one of the master’s students,
maintained that “a lot of boys like networking, but girls like more of theory
things.” Sheryl put it in a similar way: “Hmm. . . . Among all the four
majors, I think software is the best choice. Because networking is . . .
I think most the people are guys, because it involves physics, electronics.
Setting up networks required traveling to customers, thus raising a security
issue as well. However, some women choose to specialize in networks
because it is seen as a “masculine” field. Fatimah chose computer networks
because it was dominated by men, and she wanted to compete with men.
In addition, she did not like reading and the speciality required less reading
than other fields. Maimunah was also attracted to networks because of the
lack of women in the field: “I think I’m impressed by that, because I can see
a woman. Because, usually, I see like a few friends, and my cousin, and they
are all guys. The ones that have done networking, they are all guys. I want
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to be the first woman in the family, the first.” The woman Maimunah referred
to was Dr. Mazliza, head of the Networking Department and also quite young.
She was an important role model. Fatimah said, “She is very eligible. I
had class with her last year, and she is very . . . I would like to be like her!!”
Clearly Dr. Mazliza, and also the other heads and the dean, served as role
models for the female students. This may explain why so many intervie-
wees wanted to become lecturers in computer science. In fact, nearly all the
women I interviewed wanted to become university lecturers. They mentioned
several reasons, including the flexible job situation. Some, like Ah Ling,
had worked as software engineers in an ICT company:
Okay. . . . As I told you before, I was a software engineer. We started work at
seven o’clock, and we came back from work normally at seven or eight p.m.
So, one can say that the whole day is sold to a company. So, that kind of life
is not the life that I want . . . that’s why I came back to school to do my master
course, is to make me become a maybe lecturer at university or colleges. So
that’s the way to make me have more time, flexi-time to take care of me and
my future family.
Sadaah, the only one with a family, had also been working in the ICT industry:
Sadaah: After I married, before that I like to travel, so after I married, I don’t
want that, I just want to relax. So, we have a family right, so I don’t want to
rush anymore (laughing).
V: But you still want to work?
Sadaah: Yes, I still want to work. I just want to be a lecturer. So, my husband also
says that, better you be a lecturer so you can take care of your family right?
You don’t have to travel . . . lecturer also travel, but not so much right, so you
have to take care of your family, because men always busy right? And then it
is nobody to take care of my son. So, I want to be a lecturer.
Less traveling and exposure (compared to working in industry) were
important reasons to pursue an academic career. Salina also emphasized
that working in the ICT business involved more barriers to women than
teaching because of security issues. Women could not stay in the office to
work late.
Like in many Western countries, a lot of the Malaysian women students
lacked previous experience or knowledge of computing when they entered
the program. Interestingly, compared to Western research (e.g., Margolis
and Fisher 2002), very few complained about this. Usually, they said that it
was just a matter of working hard, and then they would catch up:
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Ah Ling: I told myself; just study hard, study smart, to catch up. So, now I have.
Hard (and smart) work was the preferred strategy to cope with lack of know-
ledge and experience in computing. Moreover, there was a widespread
belief that women worked harder than men. Also the idea that Chinese and
Indian students worked harder than Malays was present, but this applied first
and foremost to male students.
However, some of the first-year students seemed to think that men were
better at programming than women. Indrani mentioned that she saw gender
differences in how men and women coped with programming:
Indrani: The other girls . . . basically, most of the girls don’t like programming.
Even my friends, when we talk together, we don’t like programming, because
it is a bit hard for us to understand. And we don’t know how guys can under-
stand it better. So . . . but I think, if we just keep on studying it, we tend to
understand. I just have to go through it more times. Then I understand.
Thus, the domination and perceived superior competence of men was not
considered a real problem and definitively not by the master’s students who
did not mention such experiences at all. For the female bachelor’s students,
it became even more important to study hard.
A Different Computer Science?
Perhaps not surprisingly, Malaysia was not a cyberfeminist utopia. There
were many women in computer science, but they did not particularly excel
in communication, nor did they find their situation unambiguously liberating.
Rather, we learnt that there were high demands in terms of efforts, similar
to Ong’s (1995) and Harris’s (2004) observations of the different, difficult,
and contradictory expectations toward young women. My informants told
they were subjected to numerous demands. Many felt a pressure to sustain
their family’s finances and to provide for elderly parents as well as younger
siblings. Also, the expectation to be an obedient daughter was evident, the
costs of which were well illustrated by Aziza’s situation. The expectations
also included getting married and having children. Most of my informants
said they wanted that, but they also wanted to combine having a family with
a career. Being a successful career woman was important to them. Thus, in
these young women’s narratives, there is a mix of individualized and, in a
Western sense, “modern” discourses (see Ong 1999 for a critical discussion)
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about opportunities and aspirations, as well as more “traditional” family-
bound concerns.
How do the findings concur with the four analytical frames discussed
previously on the basis of Wajcman’s review of main perspectives on
gender and technoscience? To begin with, we have observed a coproduction
of gender and computer science that appears different, more complex, and
less stereotypical than implicated by the main body of Western research.
It is important to note, though, that my informants did not offer sponta-
neous comments about the relationship of gender and computer science.
However, when I asked, they willingly provided gendered accounts, but they
were dissimilar to those that dominate Western research. First, computer
science was constructed as a discipline well suited for women, not as a mas-
culine recluse. Second, gender was invoked in a different way. Physical
activities like working with electronics and mechanical objects were looked
upon as “masculine,” in contrast to software engineering and programming.
The latter were deemed as “theoretical” and thus fitting for women. In fact,
a gendered dichotomy of the physical and the theoretical was quite prevalent.
Supposedly, women liked theory, while men preferred (and were better at)
technical and practical tasks related to the computer.
Thus, there seems to be a complex coding of gender in relation to computer
science, mediated by what is perceived as “suitable” for women. This reflects
an understanding of gender where women are associated with being indoors
and with being protected, and a perception of the office as a woman-friendly
place, compared to spaces like construction sites and factories. In contrast
to the dominant exclusion focus in the “technoscience revisited” frame,
computer science was deemed particularly suitable for women.
Considering the level of enthusiasm among my informants toward a
wide range of aspects of computer science, there is also little support for the
cyberfeminist belief that communication is women’s main preference with
respect to computers. The women I interviewed were not particularly enthu-
siastic about communicative aspects of computer science or other “soft”
features. Their objects of fascination included what many Westerners
perceive as “masculine” areas, like software engineering, programming, and
hardware. Thus, the cyberfeminist frame did not work well as an accounting
resource either.
The high proportion of women among Malaysian computer science
students was not a result of any technofeminist politics. The national policy
that seemed to have influenced the recruitment of women to computer
science, in fact, encouraged all young people to study IT. Furthermore,
practically all the women I interviewed emphasized that their motivation to
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study computer science was linked to their goal of getting a well-paid and
secure job. However, from Wajcman’s (2004) perspective, it may be appre-
ciated that the larger number of women in computer science in Malaysia
seemed to make the culture more welcoming to them.
When analyzing the discourse in the technofeminist frame, the most
striking feature was the lack of “masculine” references, in particular the absence
of a hacker or computer geek mythology. Also, the women’s willingness to
invest in hard work and, above all, their belief in the potential of hard work
to solve problems, counteracted mythological ideas (see also Margolis and
Fisher 2002).
Arguably, it is the cyborg feminism frame that offers the most fruitful
theoretical account of my observations, through its emphasis on the ambiguous,
complex, and also changeable nature of the gender-technoscience relationship.
The frame invites a refusal of a unilateral glorification of technoscience as
well as a rejection of it. It is both/and, not either/or. It is inclusion as well
as exclusion. To the Malaysian female students, computer science seemed
to act like Haraway’s (1985) trickster—it offered many new and interesting
opportunities of becoming skilled, valued, and important, yet it presented a
way of combining empowerment with the acceptance of a paternal system
as well as gender differentiating practices that definitely worked in their
In this article, I have above all tried to show the complexity of my infor-
mants’ coproduction of gender and computer science, which—when aligned
to Western research—allows greater diversity in understanding the relation-
ship between gender and computer science. In fact, female computer science
students in Western institutions may also protest or counter the coding
of their discipline as “masculine” (Lagesen 2005). Gansmo, Lagesen, and
Sørensen (2003) provide a good example of the dangers inherent in this
research. They show how the generalized hacker figure created by social
scientists to criticize the problematic effect of a particular form of “mas-
culinity” on computer practices lives on as a myth that young women use
as an argument to stay away from computers. The scientific statements we
produce about the world may be repercussive. As Haraway (1985) puts it,
we have a responsibility for the monsters created by our research, but perhaps
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Vivian Anette Lagesen is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Interdisciplinary
Studies of Culture at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Lagesen / Computer Science and Gender 27
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... Factors underlying women's decision to study CS in developing countries and in minority groups However, there are certain countries, often developing countries (e.g., Malaysia (Lagesen (2008)) and Mauritius (Adams et al., (2003)), where comparable numbers of females and males study CS. There are also cases of minority groups in developed societies (e.g., Israeli, Haredi women (Genut and Ben-David Kolikant, 2019)) where there is a similar number of women to men, or more, in CS programs. ...
... instead, computing is seen as fresh, new, modern, and challenging (all of which are positive things). Both Adams et al. (2003) and Lagesen (2008) found that for many of these women in Mauritius and Malesia, CS studies are a means to fulfil their goals of getting a well-paid job as well as a new and interesting opportunity to become skilled and valued. Noteworthy, the choice to study CS suits the life of women of minority groups within the macro context of their societies. ...
... CS is a good choice for these women because it opens the door for well-paid jobs, and the contents studied do not conflict with their faith. In fact, often female students in minority groups, as well as in developing countries, are "pushed" by their parents to study CS (Adams et al., 2003;Lagesen, 2008;Genut and Ben-David Kolikant, 2019). ...
Programs in bioinformatics, offered in many academic institutes, are assumed to expand women’s representation in computer science (CS). Women’s enrolment in these programs is high; Our questions are: Do these programs attract different women from those attracted to CS programs? What factors underlie women’s decision to enroll in bioinformatics programs? How do these factors differ from those of women who choose CS, if at all? What career opportunities do these women anticipate and pursue? Using questionnaires and interviews, we found a statistically significant difference between the factors that motivate women to choose bioinformatics and others to study CS. Many bioinformatics students did not consider CS as an alternative. Post-facto they learned to love computing, albeit with a biology-oriented purpose. “Computing with purpose” underlies many participants’ pursuit of careers in research, CS, and bio-tech. We thus conclude that bioinformatics programs do indeed expand women’s representation in CS.
... At the University of Malaysia, for example, women made up 53% of undergraduates in computer science and 64% in specialised IT programmes (Othman & Latih, 2006). Vivian Lagesen has shown that students in Malaysia consider IT a good field for women and do not describe it to be 'masculine' (Lagesen, 2007). ...
... Despite the positive individual experiences of female participants, however, there is little evidence on their potential impact for attracting female students to technical careers or for transforming the dominant male SET culture. Isolated experiences are available on how a more diverse student population 'de-genders' the traditional male culture of computing (Lagesen, 2007;Blum et al., 2007) -how these experiences travel between countries, institutions or disciplines is, however, another matter. The section on single-sex education overlaps in this sense not only with the section on women-only career training but also with its conclusions. ...
... On the positive side, interviewing STEM students, Rainey et al. [20] conclude that active teaching may improve the sense of belonging for underrepresented students. Finally, Lagesen [15] interviews Malaysian female students, which form around 50% of the student body, to see how their perception about CS differs from the western culture. ...
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In recent years, there has been considerable effort to promote gender balance in the academic environment of Computer Science (CS). However, there is still a gender gap at all CS academic levels: from students, to PhD candidates, to faculty members. This general trend is followed by the Department of Computer Science at UiT The Arctic University of Norway. To combat this trend within the CS environment at UiT, we embarked on structured discussions with students of our department. After analyzing the data collected from these discussions, we were able to identify action items that could mitigate the existing gender gap at our department. In particular, these discussions elucidated ways to achieve (i) a balanced flow of students into CS undergraduate program, (ii) a balanced CS study environment, and (iii) a balanced flow of graduates into higher levels of the CS academia (e.g., PhD program). This paper presents the results of the discussions and the subsequent recommendations that we made to the administration of the department. We also provide a road-map that other institutions could follow to organize similar events as part of their gender-balance action plan.
The gendering of technology-related work and education has spurred a lively debate. While the majority of research assumes that women and minority ethnic groups are under-represented in technology, there is a lack of research on their typical paths and positions in vocational technology education. This intersectional study examines students’ experiences of dental technology, which is a women-dominated study programme in which minority ethnic groups are also well represented. The article identifies a key discourse that the interviewees use in distinguishing dental technology from men-dominated technology education: describing it as detailed work done with one’s hands. The study strengthens existing research on the gendering of technology by providing the first vocational school-based example of how the feminine qualities associated with certain technologies can create a space for feminine identities in technology while simultaneously limiting the technological study programmes considered by women. The study further complements existing research through its intersectional approach, by showing that although feminine images associated with some technology education programmes can attract many women to study these subjects, minority ethnic students might be later excluded from working in related vocations.
Technology design and development has traditionally been characterized by a lack of attention to women’s priorities and activities; a lack of analysis of gendered impacts; and the influence of socio-cultural gender norms that position technology as a male pursuit. Advances are seen, but progress continues to be slow. For example, women are highly-represented in biology globally, but participation drops significantly in computational biology, and digital gender gaps in ownership and information and communication technology skills persist. The term “silicon wall” calls attention to the constraints faced by women and under-represented groups in the design, implementation, and appropriation of new technology. At the same time, the acceleration of technology-driven development poses new risks, in the form of AI and digital-based monetary systems, for example. These trends may reverse momentum in gender equality and empowerment through effects on labor force participation and economic opportunities, health and wellbeing, and (lack of) financial inclusion. Steps need to be taken to address gaps, constraints, and lack of opportunities that penalize women and underrepresented groups, in order to break through the silicon wall. This article builds on a forthcoming UNCTAD report to assess the intersection of digital technologies as they intersect with gender, diversity in the technology workplace, and development, in order to understand risks and opportunities for innovation and implementation of new technologies.
There is an unspoken rule in Indian society that women are the parents’ responsibility until marriage and thereafter the husband’s responsibility. Religious practices and cultural norms intertwine with gender in the Indian community to establish the prescribed formalities that uphold the social order. Travelling for leisure is regarded as a masculine activity and a stigma for Indian women. There is a lack of awareness among Indian women about their right to leisure. However, the increasing significance of technology in the twenty-first century and generational changes have triggered women to transcend the invisible boundaries. Malaysian Indian women have gradually gained access to a wide range of resources such as technology, knowledge, and skills. There has been a shift in traditional family ideologies as well as an increase in their level of education, employment and financial autonomy. In recent times, Malaysian Indian women have been actively exercising social autonomy by engaging in travel activities. Grounded by the Hierarchical Leisure Constraint framework, this study examines the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and structural constraints of the three stages of travel. Malaysian Indian women are steadily negotiating the gendered travel constraints using technology, which offers them choices to break the barriers and initiate transformation by challenging the patriarchal-induced practices and premises of womanhood. This chapter adds to the discourses on travel as a central axis of empowerment for women and contributes to the literature on gender and leisure in the Asian context.KeywordsMalaysian Indian womanTravelTechnologyInvisible boundaries
The closure of academic institutions as a result of preventative measures towards the distribution of COVID-19 has impacted the academic sector. The approach of switching learning technique to an online structure has currently turned out to be part of several academic organizations around the globe. The purpose of this particular research is to investigate and identify the issues faced by female teacher-students associated towards the situations induced because of e-education system in Pakistan and Turkey. This particular study followed the qualitative research approach. For the collection of data, semi-structured selection interviews were utilized with 10 female teachers and 10 female students from public and private universities in Pakistan and Turkey. In accordance with the results of this research, the following issues are confronted by female instructors: cyberbullying, lack of discipline in class, harassment of female students, as well as lack of technological equipment.
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Feminist studies of technology focus on the question of how gender is constitutive for societal technology relations. In the course of several decades, different concepts and conceptualizations of technology, materiality/ies, gender, and their relationship have been developed. Likewise, what is perceived as feminist and ‚at stake‘ politically, has changed accordingly. This article traces this history from early socio-critical feminist technology studies, via constructivist (and poststructuralist) feminist technology studies, to recent discussions under the label of feminist new materialism. Systematically reconstructing the theoretical developments in feminist thinking about the gender-technology relation, and counting their ‚gains and losses‘, allows to reflect upon the time and again proclaimed ‚turns‘, and generates a differentiated foundation for (future) theoretical debates on and conceptualizations of the ever more complex and ambiguous gender- technology relations we encounter in society.
This paper focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on ICT sector employment through the prism of digital gender gap divide change in 2020 as a comparative analysis of EU-27 country’s performance. The paper aims to examine the share of employed women and men ICT professionals in total employment in the ICT sector, aged 15 to 74, from 2011 to 2020 in the EU-27, highlighting annual national disparities in the 2020 pandemic year. The standard deviations (Z-score) and percentage deviations of the European Union countries from the EU-27 average in 2020 were calculated. The data used for the analysis have been obtained from Eurostat (2021): Employed ICT specialists by sex.The analysis results show that in the pandemic 2020, the deviation of women’s employment in the ICT sector of the EU-27 from the EU-27 average ranges from 2.4 σ to -1.6 σ. The deviation of employed men in the ICT sector from the EU-27 average is in the same range but opposite.Peak differences and their causes have been explained. Conclusively, limitations and further research orientations within the wider topic frame are elaborated.KeywordsDigital gender gapICT employmentEuropean unionCOVID-19
Welches Potenzial hat feministische Wissensproduktion für die kritische Medienforschung? In gegenwärtigen Medienkulturen sind die gesellschaftlich stets umkämpften Prozesse der Herstellung, Legitimierung, aber auch Transformation von Macht- und Herrschaftsverhältnissen unübersehbar mit medialen Repräsentationen, Technologien und Praktiken des Medienhandelns verwoben. Der Band stellt wegweisende Beiträge feministischer Theoriebildung (u.a. von Adrienne Rich, bell hooks, Donna Haraway und Judith Butler) vor, die von ausgewiesenen Autor_innen in ihrer Bedeutung für eine gesellschaftstheoretisch fundierte Medienforschung gewürdigt werden.
Although few dispute the computer's place as a pivotal twentieth century artefact, little agreement has emerged over whether the changes it has precipitated are generally positive or negative in nature, or whether we should be contemplating our future association with the computer more with enthusiasm or trepidation. Specifically with regard to the relationship between women and computers, a diverse body of commentary has embraced the views of those who have found grounds for expressing pessimism about this association and those who have favoured a more optimistic assessment of the current situation and its probable future development. This book undertakes a thorough evaluation of the legitimacy and predictive power of the optimistic commentary. Using a large body of original qualitative data, it interrogates the bases of what it identifies as three waves of optimism and in doing so provides answers to some of the key questions asked in this field today.
This book brings together key writings exploring the relationship between representation, techno science and gender through the metaphor of the cyborg
We recount some of the most significant and colorful findings of our four-year study of gender issues in the undergraduate computer science program at Carnegie Mellon. We also discuss the subsequent dramatic increase in the number of women in the program. We conclude with recommendations for the most generally useful and effective actions departments can take to attract and retain female students.
This study investigated the success of a technology and Internet-enriched teaching and learning environment in molding positive attitudes among students toward using the Internet for learning at a university in Malaysia. Students were provided with computers facilities, required to complete two compulsory generic courses in information technology, and the lecturers actively encouraged the use of information technology, in particular, the Internet in the teaching and learning processes. Results from the study indicated that students had positive attitudes toward using the Internet as a learning tool, adequate basic knowledge of the Internet, and viewed the learning environment as supportive of using the Internet for learning. Students with better basic Internet skills and who viewed the learning environment as promoting the use of the Internet favored using the Internet for learning. The university achieved its objectives of promoting the use of the Internet for teaching and learning purposes. As the university begins to offer Web-based courses, the generic courses in information technology should likewise be redesigned to introduce the concepts of Web-based learning environments. These courses should in fact be conducted as Web-based courses to prepare the students to learn in these learning environments.