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A gendered view on the declining interest in technology Isabelle Collet, Katherine Maillet, Marité Milon and Chantal Morley INT-Management, Sexties Project.

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Presentation on theme: "A gendered view on the declining interest in technology Isabelle Collet, Katherine Maillet, Marité Milon and Chantal Morley INT-Management, Sexties Project."— Presentation transcript:

1 A gendered view on the declining interest in technology Isabelle Collet, Katherine Maillet, Marité Milon and Chantal Morley INT-Management, Sexties Project (, Evry, France

2 March 8-10, 20072 OECD Global Science Forum (May 2006) In recent years, Science and Technology student numbers have been increasing in absolute terms, but decreasing in relative terms. Women are still strongly under-represented in S&T studies.  Choice of discipline is highly gender-dependent: In most countries, women constitute less than 25% of computing and engineering students.  Girls are subject to negative pressures and stereotypes

3 March 8-10, 20073 OECD Global Science Forum (May 2006)

4 March 8-10, 20074 OECD Recommandation Increasing the number of female students appears to be the most obvious way to increase the overall number of S&T students  Question: Why and how should women be attracted to studies that men prefer to ignore?

5 March 8-10, 20075 Women and IT in French Engineering Schools Sources: Conseil national des ingénieurs et scientifiques de France (CNISF), 1972 à 1995. Pour 2000 : Notes d’information de la DEP (Ministère de l’Education Nationale), Repères et Références Statistiques, éditions 1987 à 2000

6 March 8-10, 20076 European studies on IT (2002-2003): Strategies of Inclusion: Gender and the Information Society (SIGIS) Widening Women Works in ICT (www-ict)  ICT professions are becoming more widely diversified. Hybrid profiles are growing in areas surrounding traditional computer-related jobs  Solid technical skills (including project management) and non–technical skills are both important in ICT jobs

7 March 8-10, 20077 INT Sexties Project The Sexties research project was launched in May 2005 The main objective is to study relationships between ICT representations and gendered identity:  how higher education can influence the differing perceptions and behaviour of male and female students concerning IT  uncover the impact of the hidden curriculum on gender roles Our initial observations:  a clear appropriation of the world of machines by girls without any masculine identity affirmation  technical knowledge seems to be especially used by certain male students

8 March 8-10, 20078 Presentation of INT A graduate school of engineering and a graduate school of management both specialized in ICT Students are recruited at Bac + 2 and obtain their Master’s degree after three year of study at the school Distribution of the population by gender  Management : 45% women and 55% men  Engineering : 31% women and 69% men

9 March 8-10, 20079 The Research Our research objective is to examine how male and female students cope with the image of IT as they evolve in their schools 40 student interviews and accounts at different stages in their Master’s program of study Our basic question was: What attitude do you have towards technology?

10 March 8-10, 200710 Female students still say they are afraid of ICT Although they all use computers in high school, some female students say it is only in 3rd year they are no longer afraid of them:  « What frightened me at first was that I really didn’t like it and even more when I began, I was not at all talented» (Woman, 1st year)  « At the end of 3 years it’s less “frightening” […] Women are afraid of it because it is not so much a part of their world as compared to men. » (Woman 3rd year)

11 March 8-10, 200711 Male students appear confident At most, they sometimes have to do some catching up  « You have to get used to solving these somewhat simple problems which can block you sometimes, so I had the feeling that I had some catching up to do » (Man, 3rd year) New subjects are not difficult, the students are not interested in them  « At first Linux was really boring, but now that I understand it, it is becoming more and more interesting. » (Man 1st year)

12 March 8-10, 200712 The model of the nerd to be avoided In 3rd year, men like women do not want to be perceived like this: Matin plus, February 06, 2007

13 March 8-10, 200713 Female students want to keep their distance « Outside, when we say that we study computer science and on top of it we are women, we get categorized right away » (Woman 1st, year) « It’s the image of all these people who spend a lot of time tinkering. Anyway, I try to have a well balanced appearance, I do sports.» (Man, 1st year) « It’s better to be able to master the technology than not be able to. It’s good to know how to program without getting completely absorbed by it » (Man, 1st year) « I’d rather stay away from it but I always let everyone know that I have [technical] skills » (Woman, 3rd year)

14 March 8-10, 200714 Students invoke natural skills « Science and math are the subjects I am least naturally skilled in » (Woman, 1st year) « I like to disassemble the computer, I really like to know how a software program works, I do a lot instinctively » (Man, 3rd year) « I have the feeling that it is really something inside me » (Man, 3rd year)

15 March 8-10, 200715 Getting away from technology: a strategy for men Sometimes regretfully:  « I wanted to finish my training with something technical, it’s the last thing that I will hold on to » (Boy, 3rd year)  « In the scientific domain there is a real desire to surpass one’s self and to understand difficult things while management does not involve surpassing one’s self intellectually » (Boy, 3rd year) For a better career:  « in order to get interesting positions, there is no doubt about it, you have to have a management side and a vision that is not only technical » (Boy, 3rd year)  « [Management] is where the jobs are that have the most interesting career advancement opportunities, it’s where the best paid jobs are and it’s where the best people are » (Boy, 3rd year)

16 March 8-10, 200716 Living with a technical identity : an issue for women To preserve one’s identity  « I want to get away from it. I put forward my combined skills but I never say Telecom in the name of my school, it can put people off » (Women, 3rd year)  « A chick who understands networks hasn’t yet been assimilated into people’s mentalities » (Woman, 3rd year) Sometimes I have no regrets having to give up technology  « I don’t think I’m completely a technophile … it doesn’t really interest me … I prefer the human relations aspects » (Woman,3rd year)

17 March 8-10, 200717 Getting away from technology : A strategic choice or an identity challenge For women: it is more of an identity challenge than a strategic choice Even if they claim to like technology, they put forward other skills for their career For the men: a strategic choice which has to be defended in order not to question their identity  Technology is where the real skills are but management professions are more interesting

18 March 8-10, 200718 Technology as leverage for power Only men rely on their technical skills to affirm their authority  « I like it a lot and I tell myself that it’s in my best interest to be good in technology » (Boy, 2 nd year)  Men think that women are less interested than they are in technology  Technology: a means to exercise power, not on objects, but on others  Technical skills or « truth » gives them a « rational » pretext for power struggles

19 March 8-10, 200719 The Sexties Team Isabelle Collet Katherine Maillet Chantal Morley Marité Milon INT-Management Evry, France

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