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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


ICTs and Women : Unintentional Cyber-purdah in the Global Village?

Angela Lewis.

The importance of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and the skills to use them are is no longer debatable. Gilbert (2001:3) says that access to, and competency with, IT is of crucial importance for those living in a contemporary culture; and Morgan and Banks (one of Australia's leading employment and recruitment companies), say that IT skills are "the most beneficial in helping [people] find a job." There would be very little argument that familiarity and skill with ICTs are necessary for both social and economic functioning, regardless of who you are and what career you pursue.

Despite the claims of some feminists that technology per se is already gendered and is male (Haraway 1991, Sofia, 1993) and others that the Internet and communications technologies are ideally suited to belonging to women (Spender 1995); there are legitimate concerns that without full participation in ICTs that women are most certainly in danger of becoming the lepers of the digital age - information poor - which will have ramifications for them economically, culturally, educationally and socially. Sardar and Ravetz (1996:7) say that the future will be shaped by two kinds of generations, one experiencing even more intoxicating powers (the IT haves) while the other a deeper and deeper hopelessness (the IT have-nots).

Others such as Burbules and Callister (2000:p19), whilst also agreeing with this and saying "that as ICTs become more important for educational opportunities and economic, political, social and cultural participation, exclusion from this realm will mean severely limited life chances of many sorts"; also hypothesize that universal access to IT technology may never be achieved, because of technology's alignment with wealth and social class.

Luke and Gilbert (1993:2) voice their concerns in the form of this question “will the growing importance of electronic technology simply reproduce historically entrenched patterns of exclusion on the basis of gender, class colour and ethnicity?” Many feminists such as Hawisher and Sullivan (1999) and Selfe (1999) maintain this has already and continues to happen. This paper seeks to examine some of these issues with particular emphasis on the Australian workplace.


Angela Lewis  (Australia)
Principle Consultant

Angela Lewis has run an IT Education business for the past 12 years in Melbourne which has given her the opportunity to share her skills with thousands of Australians from all walks of life. She is listed in the prestigious Lexington’s Who’s Who as a leading professional in her field, is the Winner of the 2001 and 2003 Australian Achievers Award (for Consultancy and Training), an industry award for customer service, and is also IT Education Advisor to the Australian Counselling Association, as well as being an accredited counsellor and publishing regularly on issues related to the societal impact of technology.

Her academic background includes a Graduate Diploma in Information Technology and Communication Technology and a Masters Degree in Professional Education and Training. She is am currently midway through a Doctor of Education degree with Deakin University.

  • Information Technology
  • Gender
  • Learning and equity.

(Virtual Presentation, English)