Skip to main content

STRATEGIES OF INCLUSION: GENDER AND THE INFORMATION SOCIETY

Exploitable results

The results of a major two-year European study on public and private initiatives to include and attract women to information and communication technology (ICT) use, employment and education are now available. This research project, funded by the European Commission IST (Information Society Technologies) Programme, has published a collection of case studies and analyses for policy makers, product designers and service developers. The reports are available online at http://www.sigis-ist.org In the first stage of the research, a comprehensive overview of current digital divides and inclusion measures was conducted, including a review of literature and statistical trends on gender and ICT. The second stage of research involved the empirical investigation of public and private initiatives to include women in the Information Society, and female user experiences of these initiatives. 48 Case Studies were conducted on: - Public efforts to include women in ICT: Including education and training initiatives; - Private efforts to include women in ICT: Including design of products and websites for women and girls; support networks for female professions in IT; digital design industry recruitment and retention of women in the field of digital design; - Female user experiences: public and private policies and products: including women's lack of access to resources, skills and knowledge, and integration of computers and the Internet into women's everyday lives. The case studies were based on public and private initiatives to include women in ICT, covering a wide range of contexts, from national government policy to women's networking organisations and design of video games. From these findings important insights emerged into the way gender and ICT is understood and managed by many organisations, governments and industry sectors across Europe. These cases currently form the basis for the development of analytical tools to help policy-makers, educators, designers and relevant practitioner communities improve their efforts to integrate more women into the design and use of ICTs. These policy and design guidelines will be published at the end of 2003. Why Study Gender and the Information Society? The SIGIS project addresses concerns that for some time women have been, and continue to be excluded from, the use and development of communication and media technologies, and thus the Information Society. This is most obvious in the relative absence of women from computer sciences and the design of ICT products. However, there are important changes going on: the transformation of ICTs and their penetration into the home, workplace and education means that the gap is narrowing between men and women in their levels of use of computers, the Internet, mobile phones and other systems. These issues have become the centre of much debate and have resulted in specific initiatives and policies by both public and private organisations, many of which have played an active part in 'democratisation' of ICTs. The Research Group This research project was carried out across five European countries: the University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom), the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norway), the University of Twente (Netherlands), Dublin City University (Ireland) and Studio Metis (Italy).