Women’s Unconventional Routes into ICT Work

After many years of studying how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is gendered in the Norwegian and Nordic culture, my interest is more in what successfully brings women into ICT, rather than what excludes women from ICT. The chapter on unconventional routes into ICT work that I wrote together with my colleague Gilda Seddighi, explores how women come to tech work, not through the more “conventional” route of choosing the “correct” subjects at school that leads to ICT at university etc. Instead, in this chapter we focus on the unconventional routes that bring many women into ICT work.

The messy road system we found in Mongolia seemed like a good illustration of the different and unconventional routes many women pursue to ICT.

The chapter is based on in-dept interviews with women working with ICT where a majority of the women we interviewed had found an alternative route to ICT. This included
a) a delayed entry into ICT education,
b) a natural progression into ICT due to digitalization of non-technological disciplines and occupations, and
c) pursuing opportunities arising as non-technological competences are increasingly needed and valued in digitalization.

These less conventional routes illustrate women’s professional development as motivated by processes of digitalization and the recognition of a wide set of professional fields and competences needed in ongoing digital transformations. Relying on entry points less affected by masculine stereotypes, the women contribute to new ways of co-constructing gender and ICT in the new digitalized workspaces.

The chapter is open access, available to read online or download as pdf. https://bristoluniversitypressdigital.com/view/book/9781529219494/ch004.xml

Cite this chapter:
Corneliussen, H. G., & Seddighi, G. (2022), Unconventional routes into ICT work: Learning from women’s own solutions for working around gendered barriers. In G. Griffin (Ed.), Gender Inequalities in Tech-Driven Research and innovation: Living the Contradiction (56-75), Bristol: Bristol University Press.

ICT Changes Everything! But Who Changes ICT?

Our conference paper ICT Changes Everything! But Who Changes ICT? is now released from paywall of Springer and free to download for everybody!

Written together with Clem Herman and Radhika Gajjala in:

This Changes Everything – ICT and Climate Change: What Can We Do?

13th IFIP TC 9 International Conference on Human Choice and Computers, HCC13 2018, Held at the 24th IFIP World Computer Congress, WCC 2018, Poznan, Poland, September 19–21, 2018, Proceedings


Information and communication technology (ICT) has a changing power and digitalization is gradually changing society in all aspects of life. Across the western world, men are in majority in the ICT industry, thus, the computer programs that change “everything” are most often made by men. Unless questioned, this male dominance can be perceived as a “norm” and becomes invisible. Against this background, this paper will provide three examples of how a feminist gaze can contribute to raise important questions and produce an awareness of how exclusion mechanisms have produce a highly homosocial tendency in design of ICT systems in the western world.

Expert Group Meeting for UN Women on Innovation, technological change and gender euqality

Have had a great day with the Expert Group Meeting for UN Women’s #CSW67 Preparations with the topic Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls

Proud and very excited to be part of such an amazing group of experts on this topic. We had many important discussions today and will have more tomorrow!

unwomen.org/en/csw/csw67-2 #UN_CSW

Living the Contradiction – new book from NORDWIT

It is here! The book coming out of 5 years of research in the Nordic Centre of Excellence, NORDWIT – on women in tech-driven careers.

(I love the front page!)

The book is edited by Nordwit coordinator Gabriele Griffin and has contributions from Nordwit researchers as well as colleagues from the Nordic countries.

Together with Gilda Seddighi and one with Carol Azungi Dralega, I am involved in three chapters:

  • Corneliussen, H. G., & Seddighi, G.: Unconventional routes into ICT work: Learning from women’s own solutions for working around gendered barriers. In G. Griffin (Ed.), Gender Inequalities in Tech-Driven Research and innovation: Living the Contradiction (pp. 56-75). Bristol: Bristol University Press.
  • Corneliussen, H. G., Seddighi, G., & Dralega, C. A. (2022). The Discourse of Rurality in Women’s Professional- life Narratives: Gender and ICT in Rural Norway. … (pp. 173-187)
  • Seddighi, G., & Corneliussen, H. G. (2022). ‘If it had been only me, it would not have worked out’: Women negotiating conflicting challenges of ICT work and family in Norway … (pp. 140-155)

 

Blurb

The Nordic countries are regarded as frontrunners in promoting equality, yet women’s experiences on the ground are in many ways at odds with this rhetoric.

Putting the spotlight on the lived experiences of women working in tech-driven research and innovation areas in the Nordic countries, this volume explores why, despite numerous programmes, women continue to constitute a minority in these sectors.

Contributors flesh out the differences and similarities across different Nordic countries and explore how the shifts in labour market conditions have impacted on women in research and innovation.

This is an invaluable contribution to global debates around the mechanisms that maintain gendered structures in research and innovation, from academia to biotechnology and IT.

Open access: You can download the book from OAPEN https://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/55792

Nordwit documents the need for better statistics of women’s participation in ICT work

(Shutterstock: license Vestforsk)

A continuous under-representation of women in ICT has been the focus of research in Nordic as well as other western countries. A recurring question has been: how can we recruit more women to ICT? Answering this question, however, requires knowledge about what make women enter fields of ICT. Our study of women who have already chosen a career in various fields of ICT and digitalization has shown that many women have not followed a ‘conventional’ route to ICT, that is: making the “right choices” at high school and moving on to ICT at university level. Rather, most of the 28 women we interviewed in a case study in Norway had found other, less conventional routes to ICT:
  • Some of the women had already started on a non-tech university degree, before changing direction or returning to university for a second degree in ICT;
  • some of the women had gradually moved towards ICT through the increasing digitalization of their original non-tech discipline or field;
  • and some of the women had found work opportunities within projects and companies focusing on digitalization and ICT innovation because their non-tech competences were needed.
The routes that the women have followed, and the consequences of their movements and changing directions, are not fully reflected in publicly available statistics. There are gaps, for instance, in identifying ICT as a second degree after a change of educational direction, thus also women’s double education/competence background when entering IT work remains invisible, and the same goes for the pattern of women with a non-tech education entering vital positions in IT and core fields of digitalization. The Nordwit research thus suggests that improvements are needed in statistics about women’s participation in ICT-driven work, and here are some examples:
  • We need to develop statistical models that enable accurate capture of new forms of working, circuitous routes into ICT and technologized fields, and movement across jobs;
  • Make it a routine to have systematic entry and exit interviews when people start/leave jobs (for instance to identify how women’s career/work paths are gendered);
  • Gender equality statistics, as illustrated by the Nordwit research, should be informed by qualitative research findings, suggesting also that national offices of statistics could benefit from collaborating with researchers in the field.
Target groups for the advices are not only the national offices of statistics, but also ministries, EC, trans/national bodies (e.g. OECD, governmental labour surveys), trades unions, employer-employee forums, private research organizations, and NGOs. Read more about these topics from the Nordwit research:
  • Simonsen, M., & Corneliussen, H. G. (2020). What Can Statistics Tell About the Gender Divide in ICT? Tracing Men and Women’s Participation in the ICT Sector Through Numbers. In D. Kreps, T. Komukai, G. TV, & K. Ishii (Eds.), Human-Centric Computing in a Data Driven Society (379-397). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
  • Corneliussen, H. G. (2021). A Random Choice, Late Discovery, and Penalty Rounds: Mapping women’s pathways to information technology education. In P. Kommers & M. Macedo (Eds.), Proceedings of the IADIS International Conferences ICT, Society and Human Beings; Web Based Communities and Social Media 2021; and e-Health 2021 (37-44): IADIS Press.
  • To be published during the spring of 2022: Unconventional routes into ICT work: Learning from women’s own solutions for working around gendered barriers, by Corneliussen & Seddighi, to be published in a book edited by Gabriele Griffin: Gender Inequalities in Tech-Driven Research and innovation: Living the Contradiction.

The NORDWIT final conference!

Nordwit five years ago!

Nearly five years since we started the work in NORDWIT, the Nordic Centre of Excellence on women in tech-driven careers. Now five years later, we have a lot of new research and findings, some of which will be presented in the final conference:

Welcome to the Nordwit final conference, 10–11 February 2022
Challenging the Nordic Gender Paradox: Gender in the Nordic Research and Innovation Area

The program is very exciting, with Nordwit researchers, the scientific advisory group, Nordforsk, and presentations by the ‘sister’ NCoE NORDICORE.

It seems like the Covid situation will make the whole thing go online.

See the program and register here to participate: https://www.gender.uu.se/nordwit/activities/nordwit-conference/

Det vanskelige ekteskapet…

Ny publikasjon ute sammen med Kari Dyb:

Det vanskelige ekteskapet mellom teknologi og omsorg

Les mer om vår diskusjon av ny teknologi som redskap for innovasjon i omsorg og en teknologireduserende diskurs som redskap for å ‘lirke inn’ teknologien i Tidsskrift for omsorgsforskning

Referanse:
Corneliussen, Hilde G. og Kari Dyb 2021. “Det vanskelige ekteskapet mellom teknologi og omsorg”, Tidsskrift for omsorgsforskning, 7 (3): 1-5. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18261/issn.2387-5984-2021-03-11.

New publication: The illusion of balance: women’s navigating work-life balance

We have yet another publication in Feminist Encounters this month: “The Illusion of Balance: Women in ICT Working Full-Time and Still Having a Feeling of Opting Out”, with my colleague Gilda Seddighi as the lead author

Abstract
Women – mothers in particular – working as ICT experts in research, development, and innovation are under double pressure: they work within both a male-dominated profession, and a greedy, 24/7 work style that continues to produce an image of the ideal worker according to the male norm of less childcare responsibility. This study explores how women working as ICT experts in research, development, and innovation in Norway’s gender egalitarian culture negotiate work alongside family responsibilities. We discuss which factors affect women’s experiences of combining ICT work and family, building our analysis on 22 interviews conducted with women ICT experts in research, development, and innovation in Norway during 2017-2018. Our study illustrates that insufficient public childcare and work-life balance solutions cause women to feel like they are ‘opting out’, even when working full-time. This suggests that some of the main structures of working life continue to work as barriers to women’s career opportunities. Indeed, while some women narrate their encounters with such structures along the lines of traditional gendered patterns of work and family, we also found the same structures being gendered in new ways.

Open access, so you can read the article here: https://www.lectitopublishing.nl/Article/Detail/the-illusion-of-balance-women-in-ict-working-full-time-and-still-having-a-feeling-of-opting-out-11163

Reference: Seddighi, Gilda, and Hilde G. Corneliussen. “The Illusion of Balance: Women in ICT Working Full-Time and Still Having a Feeling of Opting Out”. Feminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics 2021 5 no. 2 (2021): 26. https://doi.org/10.20897/femenc/11163

Unpacking the Nordic Gender Equality Paradox in ICT Research and Innovation (new publication)

I have two new publications from Nordwit this month, one is “Unpacking the Nordic Gender Equality Paradox in ICT Research and Innovation”, where I discuss the mismatch between seeing the Nordic countries as highly gender egalitarian and the continuous under-representation of women in technology.

Abstract
Most fields of technology-driven research and innovation are highly male-dominated across the Western world. However, in the Nordic countries, recognised as the most gender equal in the world, this gender segregation appears as a paradox. With Norway as an example, the present article explores the paradox that appears to be entangled with the yet unsolved question of why women are still a minority in information and communication technology (ICT) disciplines. The analysis draws examples from five studies of girls and women in contexts of ICT training, education, and work to analyse the fabric of the paradox through the ‘free choice’ argument, ‘affluent nations’ argument, and ‘nation vs. individual women’ argument. The analysis suggests that the paradox, by putting the nation’s gender equality ideal against atomized individuals’ choices, contributes to obscuring the situation regarding the underrepresentation of women in ICT.

It is open access and you can read or download the article here: https://www.lectitopublishing.nl/Article/Detail/unpacking-the-nordic-gender-equality-paradox-in-ict-research-and-innovation-11162

Reference: Corneliussen, Hilde G.. “Unpacking the Nordic Gender Equality Paradox in ICT Research and Innovation”. Feminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics 2021 5 no. 2 (2021): 25. https://doi.org/10.20897/femenc/11162

 

 

A Random Choice, Late Discovery, and Penalty Rounds: Mapping women’s pathways to information technology education

Summer time is also time for conferences and publications it seems. Yet another publication out this week:

A Random Choice, Late Discovery, and Penalty Rounds: Mapping women’s pathways to information technology education
Hilde G. Corneliussen

What leads women to information technology (IT)? Successful recruitment is often perceived as relying on interest in IT. This study, however, identifies the pathways bringing women to IT that only partly rely on interest in IT and also involve other factors. In-depth interviews with 24 women in IT education and early research positions in Norway provide the empirical material for this qualitative study. Feminist technology studies and research on gender and technology provide a framework for the study, and the analysis is guided by the grounded theory method. The findings show that IT is a highly gendered field in Norway and that gender stereotypes affect women’s expectations toward, and choices of, IT. Women enter the fields of IT despite stereotypes. However, for many such women, this follows a coincidence or a late discovery of IT as interesting, and some women have been on a “penalty round” in a different field before finally entering the fields of IT.

New publication: What motivates women to study technology?

Factors Motivating Women to Study Technology: A quantitative survey among young women in Norway
Hilde G. Corneliussen, Gilda Seddighi, Anna Maria Urbaniak-Brekke, and Morten Simonsen
Proceedings for the International Conference ICT, Society, and Human Beings 2021, IADIS Press, 202-206

Abstract

Women’s underrepresentation in fields of information and communication technology (ICT) appears as a paradox in the context of Norway, a country that scores high on international gender equality indicators. Earlier research has argued that women’s underrepresentation in ICT education might be a result of their lack of interest in ICT. In this paper we ask what motivates young women in Norway to enter technology studies. The analysis is based on a quantitative survey with 689 young women responding to questions about what had made them choose technology in high school or at university level. The results show that leading factors motivating the women are job opportunities, high salary and using technology for solving challenges. Interestingly, factors that are associated with boys’ and men’s interest in ICT such as computer games and leisure activities, are marginal as motivation for the women. The study thus confirms that young women are highly interested in fields of technology, however, their interests differ from what is often associated with young men. Based on the findings we suggest that measures recognising a wider image of technology are needed for motivating women to enter fields of technology.

 

Women empowering themselves to fit into ICT

I have a new publication out, published in Technology and Women’s Empowerment, edited by Ewa Lechman

It’s open access, so you can download and read all of it online! 🙂

(From the introduction)

The study includes interviews with 24 women in Norway currently studying or holding academic recruitment or research positions at faculties of technology and science. In a previous analysis from this study we have documented that the women did not feel invited or encouraged to choose an ICT education, and their lack of knowledge about ICT in the transition between lower and higher education sends nearly half the group into a “penalty loop” – starting with another degree before “discovering” ICT, and subsequently starting all over again with an ICT degree (Corneliussen, 2020). This chapter analyses how these women, once they have entered ICT, find ways of empowering themselves in a field that they initially experienced as not very welcoming to women, asking how they succeed in establishing their own sense of belonging in the field of ICT. The analysis explores how women negotiate to perceive themselves as fitting into the male-dominated field of ICT. In this process they mainly have to rely on their own efforts – their self-empowerment, employing strategies and practices for making women visible as they strive to identify ICT as a field where women, too, belong.

Reference:
Corneliussen, H. G. (2021). Women empowering themselves to fit in ICT. In E. Lechman (Ed.), Technology and Women’s Empowerment (46-62). London: Routledge.

https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/oa-edit/10.4324/9781003045946-3/women-empowering-fit-ict-hilde-corneliussen?context=ubx&refId=5c3bc0c2-e9e1-4a71-a88a-ce71cca9a378

Thank you to Ewa Lechman for editing the book!

 

 

 

 

Speaking for OSCE about women’s empowerment and the digital transformation

Today I had the great pleasure of speaking for OSCE https://www.osce.org/ at a conference in Vienna/Zoom, where I was one of the speakers invited to talk about women’s empowerment and the digital transformation. It was a short talk for many distinguished speakers, ambassadors, and representatives from the OSCE member states, some of which responded and asked questions.

Below you can read my talk for the OSCE on 5 July 2021, at the High-Level Conference Promoting Economic and Environmental Co-operation, Security, and Growth in the OSCE Region: Marking 30 years of the 1990 Bonn Document. In this version I have added references to show the connections to our research.

(And I have finally a new profile photo, as it is many years now since my hair was short and had other colour(s) :D)

Enjoy!

Continue reading

Three fantastic days with the GWO 2021 conference!

More than 600 researchers together for 3 days for the Gender, Work, and Organization conference, GWO 2021. This was an online and delayed version of the GWO 2020 conference, which should have been in Kent, UK. There were nearly 40 streams of different topics at the conference; on professional careers, entrepreneurship, identities, discrimination, theory and a long list of other topics! Minna Salminen-Karlsson and I organised a stream together with the title “Rural Frontiers In-Between Tradition and Change: GWO in rural contexts”.
This was our first dip into the rural in a GWO perspective, and we really enjoyed the fantastic papers from across the world, including Australia, the Netherlands, Mexico, the UK, Italy, New Zealand, the Solomon Island as well as from Norway and Sweden. After so long time of no travelling, it was wonderful to get those deep dives into these diverse cultures, as a next-best to travelling ourselves! Thank you to everybody who participated in the rural stream! And a big thank you to the organisers of the GWO 2021 conference. It was amazing to share these three days with so many researchers! Although I hope we will have the opportunity to have face-to-face conferences again, we certainly see the potential of digital conferences for including people from every corner of the world.