Gender Stratification in the IT Industry

Gender Stratification in the IT Industry

Sex, Status and Social Capital

Kenneth W. Koput and Barbara A. Gutek

This illuminating monograph introduces a status-equilibrating, social capital explanation for the persistent gender stratification in the field of information technology. The authors analyze why the workforce has become increasingly male-dominated over time by looking at how pre-employment conditions provide different experiences and opportunities for women and men.

Chapter 1: Gender Stratification in the IT Industry

Kenneth W. Koput and Barbara A. Gutek

Subjects: business and management, diversity and management, gender and management


1.1 INTRODUCTION The fact that men and women tend to work in different fields is well established (Nieva and Gutek, 1981; Reskin, 1984; Reskin and Roos, 1990). For much of the twentieth century, this was assumed to be due to separate interests of men and women, interests that might flow from either biological contrasts or divergent socialization. Beginning in the 1960s, scholars began exploring structural constraints including differential treatment of men and women as a factor that contributed to the under-representation of women in some fields and the under-representation of men in others. Since male fields tended to pay more, legal remedies were sought. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was expected to ensure equal opportunity in the workplace for men and women. Yet the new millennium finds that gender-integrated jobs are, as in the previous decades, the exception rather than the rule (Jacobs, 1989a, 1989b; Scott-Dixon, 2004). Indeed, after almost 40 years of research and equal opportunity legislation, we find that the under-representation of women in some fields and men in others is a vexing issue. Postulating different interests and abilities on the one hand and clear structural constraints on the other hand is, on both hands, too simplistic to explain the complex phenomenon of the intensification of stratification in occupational fields. Broad and general theories (for example, different interests or societal constraints) are not very helpful in providing particular suggestions for change in specific fields, because there is a considerable gap between dayto-day behavior and the...

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