Engendering ICT: Emerging women ICT professionals in Aotearoa-New Zealand
McCarthy, Diane Patricia
A significant challenge to Aotearoa/New Zealand’s involvement in the global knowledge economy, especially in recession mode, is enabling the participation of women from a range of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) training and education. Women are significantly less involved as ICT specialists in business and academia, earn less, yet represent diverse households. Multiple pathways to training and retention need to be traced and understood, as well as formulating possible strategies to enable counter-discourses to emerge. A better understanding of these complex interactions between women’s subjectivities, agency and power may benefit women, the wider community and economy through transformative change. This thesis seeks to make sense of ways that emerging and new ICT professionals took up, resisted and/or subverted masculinised training discourses in two Te Wai Pounaumu (South Island) polytechnic institutes of technology (ITPs). Participants volunteered from three of the four diploma and degree programmes of study that led to employment in the ICT industry in 2007. Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews in focus groups. Comprised by their year group, or as recent graduates, six groups met up to three times for about an hour. Groups met face to face or online in chat mode in the Moodle Learning Management System. Individual in depth interviews took place with a significant group member once these sessions concluded. NVIVO 7 was used as a repository to manage the large amount of data, and to identify and code the discourses from transcripts. The referencing format is APA version 5. The overarching research question, guiding this research project, is: How do emerging women IT professionals in two ITPs in Te Wai Pounaumu (South Island) of Aotearoa-New Zealand experience their education, training and initial workplaces? Specific research questions include: In these local institutional settings, what are the demographics of all of the students who have taken up training and education in ICT? What are the dominant discourses underpinning women students’ attempts to make sense of their undergraduate setting of ICT training and education in a New Zealand polytechnic environment? How does subjectification as a woman student/new professional in ICT constrain, empower, and/or modify her agency? How can these educational institutions do better to encourage a greater participation of women students in ICT? The 2007 mid-year student demographics were used to provide background quantitative data about the characteristics of the intake as a whole, and to contextualize the participants. Discourse analysis was used to interpret how women students’ and graduates made sense of their subjectivities, agency and power as emerging ICT professionals within their training programmes and workplaces. This analysis was informed by a blended technofeminist poststructuralist analytical framework. The dominant discourse of “Constraint” and the counter discourses of “Resistance and Resilience ,” and “Empowerment” were taken up by the participants to make sense of their training and employment. Co-created femininities and masculinities in these settings were analysed as subjects-in-process: mobile, lack, deferred, constituted and performative. The interplay between subjectivity, discourse, agency and power in taking up ICT training and employment was interpreted. Possible strategies to make ICT training more accessible, enjoyable and meaningful to women in neoliberal times were explored as well as further research.
Advisor: Sandretto, Susan E.
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Educational Studies and Professional Practice, College of Education
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Women gender and ICT; Subjectivities of NZ women ICT professionals; ICT and inclusion of women; Women and ICT training in ITPs (Polytechnics); NZ Feminist analysis of women in ICT; Emerging women ICT identities
Research Type: Thesis