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The disappearing women: North West ICT project final report

Griffiths, M, Moore, K, Burns, BJ and Richardson, H 2007, The disappearing women: North West ICT project final report , Project Report, University of Salford, Salford. (In Press)

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    Abstract

    Project Context The Disappearing Women: Northwest ICT project was embarked upon to further understand why more women leave the sector than are being recruited, 36% of new ICT recruits in the UK (in the first quarter of 2002) were women, yet in the same period, women accounted for 46% of all leavers or ‘disappearing’ women (The DTI Women in IT Champions report 2003, Grey and Healy 2004). This continuing trend shows a decline from 27% of women making up the ICT workforce in 1997 with a drop to 21% in 2004 (The DTI Women in IT Industry report 2005b). The number of women in the ICT sector remains disappointingly small considering that women make up around 50% of the total UK workforce and significantly this figure has gradually continued to fall despite numerous initiatives to attract more women into the sector (see Griffiths and Moore 2006 for a list of high profile ‘women in ICT’ initiatives). The research team’s first gender research project - Women in IT (WINIT) - ran for two years from January 2004 until March 2006 at the Information Systems Institute at The University of Salford and dealt solely with women who worked in the ICT sector in England. The WINIT Project via an online questionnaire and in-depth interviews gathered the stories and experiences of up to 500 participants and 19 interviewees respectively. The project enabled these women’s voices to be heard but the research team were constantly aware that a certain part of the female ICT workforce - the ‘disappearing’ women who had left ICT vowing never to return - had been overlooked and effectively silenced. It was these women who once found, may be able to facilitate a more in-depth understanding of why women were leaving the ICT sector. Having amassed skills and expertise, qualifications in ICT and crossed ICT recruitment barriers (DTI 2005a) the ‘disappearing’ women for whatever reasons decided to change their career trajectories and leave the sector. What ‘chilly’ (Falkner 2004) workplaces, disinterested organisational cultures and indifferent working conditions had these women encountered that became determining factors in leaving the ICT sector? There has been little (if any) research conducted involving this specific cohort of women and The Disappearing Women: North West ICT (DW: NW ICT) project seeks to make a research contribution to what is a continuing statistical and symbolic under-representation of women in the ICT labour market. The DW: NW ICT project was partly funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) from April 2006 until December 2006 under ESF Objective 3, Policy Field 5.1: Improving the Participation of Women. The DW: NW ICT project contributes research to priority 5 and its strategic objective to reduce the level of disadvantage faced by women in the labour market. The project was run in the Information Systems Group, Salford Business School of The University of Salford, Greater Manchester, UK. The report is structured as follows. The first section presents the backdrop for the research, looking in general at women in the ICT labour market in England and then women leaving the ICT sector focussing on the North West of England and more explicitly women leaving ICT employment in the North West of England. The research aims of the project form the following section; they have been loosely classified in to two groupings, the push and pull factors that are contributing to the high attrition rate of women leaving ICT. The methodology follows with the route taken in how this ‘hard to reach’ target sample were finally located, once contacted the life history interview process and procedures adopted is explained in full. The vignettes of the ‘disappearing’ women are included to allow the reader an opportunity to ‘get to know’ these women a little more closely. Key themes that have naturally emerged throughout the interview data analysis process are presented, including hostilities in the ICT workplace, significant events and the process of leaving ICT workplaces and finally stories of the ‘appearing’ women and their current situations are heard. A discussion regarding the findings of the DW: NW ICT project concludes this report.

    Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
    Themes: Subjects / Themes > T Technology > T Technology (General) > T055.4 Industrial engineering. Management engineering > T058.5 Information technology
    Subjects / Themes > H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman > HQ1101 Women. Feminism
    Subjects outside of the University Themes
    Schools: Colleges and Schools > College of Business & Law > Salford Business School > Centre for Digital Business
    Journal or Publication Title: The Disappearing Women: North West ICT Project Final Report
    Publisher: University of Salford
    Refereed: No
    ISSN: ISBN 978-1-56592-197-9
    Funders: European Social Fund (ESF)
    Depositing User: M Griffiths
    Date Deposited: 25 May 2010 11:35
    Last Modified: 26 Jan 2014 22:13
    URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/9312

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