Program and/or course:
Master’s programme of Strategic Human Resource Management
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Gender, IT-sector, gender segregation, barriers, inequality regimes
The purpose of this study is to explore the work-related experiences of women working in the male-dominated Swedish IT-sector, in order to analyse what barriers are keeping women out and how they can be understood from a perspective of gender segregation.
The study builds on the theoretical framework by Acker (1990, 2006, 2012), who argues that seemingly gender-neutral organizations in fact are based on institutionalized gendered norms, embedded into the organizations’ structures and hierarchies. These gendered norms are based on the image of the ‘ideal-worker’ being a male as it builds on stereotypical masculine traits, and thus such structures contribute to the reproduction of gender inequality.
The study has been conducted by using a qualitative research design, collecting data based on 21 semi-structured interviews with females working in IT-professions.
The results confirm that the IT-sector is indeed based upon such stereotypical masculine traits as proposed by Acker, and that the perceived ideal-worker is constructed as male. Masculine skills and abilities are understood as so-called ‘tough skills’, while women are perceived as having ‘softer’ skill-sets. These gendered structures and assumptions create barriers for women both in- and outside the sector. As women are unable to identify with the ideal IT-worker concept, females are also less likely to opt for a career within IT. For the women who remain and work in the male-dominated IT industry, results further confirm that women unable to identify with the ideal-male worker also tend to detach from the stereotypically||sv