The complex problem of declining female participation in the IT industry has been conceptualised in a number of vivid images – the shrinking pipeline, the pink collar work force and the digital divide. This paper argues that women working in IT are discursively divided from the ‘masculine’ domain of IT and from other women by distinctive discursive practices. This paper discusses the use of discourse analysis to examine the interview data from a recent study of professional women in the IT industry, focusing on the way that such discourse constitutes the industry and supports gendered divisions in work and education. The paper explains the text-oriented approach to discourse analysis and how interpretation of the interview discourse is carried out, particularly in relation to the notion of denotation. Specifically, the discourse reveals dualisms in the women’s discourse on IT work, which act as interpretive schemes but which also create a divide between ‘female’ and ‘male’ attitudes, attributes and skills. It is acknowledged that everyday talk routinely comprises contradictory themes, reflecting participants’ need to make sense of routine activities and to resolve dilemmas in their sense of identity. However, this paper argues that the identification of such contradictions can contribute to our understanding of the digital divide, which exists between men and women in the IT industry.
Nielsen, Sue H.; von Hellens, Liisa A.; and Beekhuyzen, Jenine P., "The Discursive Divide: Women in the IT Industry" (2004). ECIS 2004 Proceedings. 128.