Women Talking about It Work: Duality or Dualism?

Sue H. Nielsen, Jenine Beekhuyzen, Liisa A. Von Hellens, Eileen M. Trauth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

14 Scopus citations


This paper explores the way that professional women working in the IT industry discuss the nature of their work. The research is part of an ongoing project (WinIT) commenced in 1995, which seeks to understand the declining female participation in IT education and work. An examination of our interview data using concepts from Giddens' structuration theory shows that a number of dualisms provide the women with interpretive schemes through which they can interpret and make sense of their working lives. Such dualisms may provide ontological security as representations of the routines which women in the IT industry enact in their daily activities. This paper suggests that the way women talk about their work reinforces widely held impressions of the IT industry. The use of structuration theory helps show how this talk is not always consistent with the womens' lived experiences. The interviews reveal contradictions in these dualisms, indicating that these polarised views of women and IT work are being undermined by women in the IT industry. In order to understand better how women help configure the institutional realm of IT work, we propose that more qualitative studies of women at work in IT as well as women talking about IT are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ACM SIGMIS CPR Conference
EditorsE. Trauth, E. Trauth
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2003
EventProceedings of the 2003 ACM SIGMIS CPR Conference - Philadelphia, PA, United States
Duration: Apr 10 2003Apr 12 2003

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM SIGMIS CPR Conference


OtherProceedings of the 2003 ACM SIGMIS CPR Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPhiladelphia, PA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Law


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