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Riding a hydra: Women ICT professionals' perceptions of working in the Australian ICT industry

Carolyn Timms (School of Education, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia)
Colin Lankshear (School of Education, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia)
Neil Anderson (School of Education, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia)
Lyn Courtney (School of Education, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 6 June 2008

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to identify aspects of work environment, culture or expectations that contributed to women's comfort or discomfort within the information and communication technology (ICT) industry.

Design/methodology/approach

The study is empirical in nature and addresses the perspectives of 178 professional women currently working within the Australian ICT industry who responded to the “Women in ICT” survey conducted through James Cook University. Likert‐scale responses were subjected to principal component analysis and then K‐mean cluster analysis, distinguishing four groups of respondents. Explanations for group membership were then sought from responses to open‐ended survey questions.

Findings

There was common agreement among respondents that, when making their career decisions, they had expected to enjoy good community image, and that their work would be socially useful, satisfying and flexible. Respondents also agreed that careers in ICT are rewarding, and provide opportunities, and disagreed with prevailing negative stereotypes about the industry. Opinions diverged on the organisation‐specific issues of management approachability and equality, as well as around respondents' confidence in their own technical ability and their intention to encourage young women to enter the industry.

Originality/value

This paper identifies distinct patterns of response and thereby provides support for the thesis that the widely reported discomfort of women within the ICT industry is not a cultural (industry‐wide) phenomenon but, rather, one that has its roots within particular workplace relationships. It is these relationships that appear to encourage or undermine confidence and women's intentions to encourage others to enter ICT.

Keywords

Citation

Timms, C., Lankshear, C., Anderson, N. and Courtney, L. (2008), "Riding a hydra: Women ICT professionals' perceptions of working in the Australian ICT industry", Information Technology & People, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 155-177. https://doi.org/10.1108/09593840810881060

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited