Doubts around what gender equality means in practice hamper working for an inclusive work environment in ICT

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Interviewing women working in ICT and listening to their professional life stories confirmed for one more time that women working as minorities in male-dominated workplaces experience harassments, exclusionary attitudes and routines that treat them as those being in the “wrong place”. In one extreme case, a woman who was the only woman among the employees in her workplace told us that she had experienced a work meeting being held at a sauna. These routines do not only prevent women making a sense of belonging to the field, but also exclude them from informal networks that are actually organized to have supportive function for career development.

Interviewing employers and representatives of organizations involved in ICT research, development and innovation has shown us the other side of the coin: how employers perceive and work towards gender equality. In the article “Should we actually have more women in ICT?” Hilde G. Corneliussen and I (, 2019) have shown how the organizations’ representatives who have responsibilities for working actively towards gender equality interpret and negotiate the meaning of gender equality during the interview process. The aim of increasing women’s participation in ICT work, which we all seemed to agree on in the start, changed as we discussed their practices of recruitment. Rather, it was claimed that recruiting women in ICT work was irrelevant or unimportant in the context of their organization. This process of negotiation shows that many ICT employees are familiar with the discourse of gender equality, but have doubts on what gender equality means in practice for their organization, and moreover, they doubt women can and should have a more space in ICT work. One consequence of such doubts among employers is the persistence of exclusionary work cultures.

As Corneliussen and I (, 2020) write in the FixIT guidelines for increasing women’s participation in innovation, employers should take into consideration how gender, age, language, and cultural background might exclude certain employees when planning gatherings and meetings. Furthermore, employers should look closer into their routines to increase transparency in communication of knowledge about career opportunities and guides in what skills are required for promotion and pay rise to everyone.

Gilda Seddighi

References
Corneliussen, H. G. & Seddighi, G. 2019. Må vi egentlig ha flere kvinner i IKT? Tidsskrift for kjønnsforskning, 43, 273-287.

Corneliussen, H. G. & Seddighi, G. 2020. Flere kvinner i teknologirelatert innovasjon: En veileder basert på prosjektet Kvinneløftet FixIT. Sogndal: Western Norway Research Institute.

Hunspanderer, E. C. 2018. Vi har menn til å gjøre slikt arbeid. [Online]. YouTube. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wfFZXMvVqk&list=PLnWu69HT6LD5rEhYOh76kmKoWZCFeL4JV&index=7 [Accessed June 25 2020].

Skinnarland, S. 2020. Slutt å friste jenter til et spennende arbeidsliv i byggebransjen! Available: https://forskersonen.no/arbeid-kjonn-og-samfunn-kronikk/slutt-a-friste-jenter-til-et-spennende-arbeidsliv-i-byggebransjen/1702401.

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