Exploring the Gendered Politics of Role Models in Technology

“Models” were the theme of the Fjordkonferanse in Norway 21-22 June 2018 in which Hilde G. Corneliussen, Carol A. Dralega, and Gilda Seddighi took part with a paper based on the interviews with women in technology-related careers in Norway.

Models are often developed to give an explanation about the relationships between two phenomena by focusing on the features that are identified as essential. Models are not representation of reality, however we might forget that the same hierarchies and power relations we observe in the society might influence the way models are developed. We took up this aspect of developing models through the discussion on “role models” and to discuss how women in technology relate to the question of role model.
This is the abstract for the paper:

Exploring the Gendered Politics of Role Models in Technology

Hilde G. Corneliussen, Carol A. Dralega, Gilda Seddighi

Western Norway Research Institute

Norway, among the highest scoring countries in the world in measures of gender equality (no.2 in World Economic Forum’s 2017 rating), is still lagging behind when it comes to equality in ICT and technology in educations. Less than one in four of the students are women, and less than 10% women in the more technical subjects. One circular effect of this is that there are few female role models for girls and younger women within these fields, and this lack of people to associate with creates an effect for girls suggesting that “you cannot be what you cannot see”. One solution is to create more role models by identifying and edifying women working in technology. But this is not as simple as it appears since there is still a strong discursive mismatch between feminine identity and technology in Western culture. For instance, it has been suggested that working with technology might appear as “gender in-authentic” for women and that women sometimes feel that they have to “give up” part of the gender identity when entering the field of technology. This is the context for our research question: how do women with a career in technology relate to the question of role models? The paper is based on interviews with women working with technology in Sogn & Fjordane that have been conducted for the project “Women in Technology-Driven Careers”, a Nordic Centre of Excellence funded by Nordforsk.

Gilda Seddighi

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