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 5: Stratified Social Capital

Kenneth W. Koput and Barbara A. Gutek

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


We began this monograph by observing the need for a theory suited to explain the intensification of gender stratification as seen in the information technology workforce over the past two decades. Prior theories have generally been fit to fields in which an initially large imbalance persists in the face of flat or even increasing representation of women. In information technology, we have a case of a slight imbalance which has steadily tilted to one of gender domination. To forge an explanation, we drew on several literatures spanning gender, stratification and social networks to develop a sensible and parsimonious behavioral theory that seems to fit the complex, longitudinal data we have on subjects aspiring to join the information technology workforce. In return, we can contribute refinements, extensions, and directions for research to these literatures based on our findings that women leak out during their professional training and enter the workforce in ways that disadvantage career mobility. In this chapter, we review the literatures on networks and social capital that are relevant to our findings. In the next chapter, we will revisit the original questions about gender and information technology in light of our findings. To social networks, we make several contributions. We comment on the discussion of the best combination of strong and weak ties and how that differs not only for men and women, but according to status and ascriptions. This dialogue began with the twin observations that strong and weak ties could each be a source of social capital....

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