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Gender And Interest In ICT – A Current Australian Study


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I. Caddy, C. Jerram & C. Lewin


Gender and interest in ICT – a current Australian study I. Caddy, C. Jerram & C. Lewin School of Management, University of Western Sydney, Australia Abstract The representation of women in the information and communication technology (ICT) profession has traditionally been low and in the last couple of years this proportion has declined even further. The main objective of this paper is to challenge some of the accepted views as to why this is so. The paper presents an analysis of student enrolment and performance in ICT related subjects, both for students enrolled in ICT as well as non-ICT related courses for a large Australian university. The analysis indicates that ICT subjects are popular with women, as demonstrated by the percentage of women enrolled. Furthermore, the analysis indicates that women do not find ICT subjects difficult and do as well or even better than their equivalent male colleagues. Keywords: gender and ICT, ICT and gender, women in IT, ICT service delivery 1 Introduction Historically in Australia, information and communication technology (ICT) has been a male preserve. While the proportion of women working in many professions has increased (Igbaria and Chidambaram [1]), in the ICT area, in Australia at least, the reverse has occurred. Byrne and Staehr [2] completed a study using Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001 census data and found that 30.1% of positions in the ICT area were held by women; this represented a drop of 6% when compared with the 1996 census data. Hogg [3] reports percentages of Australian ICT positions held by women as ranging from 16% to 25%, which represents a further decline. These proportions cannot be explained merely by a ‘glass ceiling’ effect (as a barrier for women either entering an ICT career or persevering with an ICT career, Igbaria and Chidambaram [1]), or by the fact