Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gender, educational, and occupational digital gaps 1983-2002

Susan Carol Losh, “Gender, educational, and occupational digital gaps 1983-2002,” Social Science Computer Review 22:2 (2004), 152-166; 15 pages.

This study compiled and performed an analysis of variance on data from several large long range studies from with an emphasis on gender, education, occupation, and technology, and a particular focus on women’s access and use of technology.

This national study of adults tracked measures of computer access from 1983 to 2002 and measures of internet access from 1995 to 2002. Since access to technology is a complex variable to assess, it was broken down into more discrete objects for analysis, including computer ownership, home web access, work computer access, work email accounts and total hours online annually.

This study period represents the time that computers became widely used and available and documents the complex relationship between gender, education and class. Contextualized against a backdrop of the digital divide, this analysis brings in a wide variety of other studies into the discussion that document the disparities in digital access. These studies also begin to ask questions about how types of use across these groups vary as well, although those kinds of questions are incompletely represented with the variables analyzed, but may account for some of the trends noted. The study demonstrates that with the increase in computer adoption in society at large, disparities have diminished; however, disparities across gender, education, educational level, employment status and occupation persist and may represent facets of larger social issues.

The authors recognize that greater parity has occurred in terms of gender and access to technology, but that there are still gaping disparities between groups, both in terms of access and in terms of usage. 9 years earlier Light was advocating for a reduction of inequalities being designed into new electronic networking systems (p. 142). Do you think that this increase in parity represents an improvement by design and a corresponding increase in social equality or have the social relations that created the disparities simply been transferred and are reinforcing the traditional power structures, albeit in a new medium?

Why do you think the representation of race is largely missing from this study, even though the authors recognize it as an important factor in most nationally representative studies (p. 155)?

No comments:

Post a Comment