Gender Stratification in the IT Industry
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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.
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Chapter 6: Gender Stratification in the Information Technology Industry Revisited

Kenneth W. Koput and Barbara A. Gutek


The Federal Glass Ceiling Commission (2002), a 21-member bipartisan group appointed by President G.H.W. Bush and Congressional leaders, sought to identify career opportunities for women. Their conclusions suggest that women should do well in information technology. Chaired by the Secretary of Labor, the Commission concluded that, ‘Women appear to have the best opportunity for advancement into management and decisionmaking positions in three types of industries: those which are fast-growing (business services); those like telecommunications where change, i.e., deregulation, restructuring, has occurred; and those with a female intensive work force (insurance, banking)’ (Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, 2002: 102). Information technology is a fast-growing field where change has occurred and, although it could never be called ‘female intensive’, women were well represented. But, instead of moving into management and other decisionmaking positions, women constitute a smaller share of the information technology workforce now than 20 years ago. What happened? 6.1 MISSING OPPORTUNITY In our study, more women than men dropped out of the MIS program before graduation, a finding consistent with other research. Among those who graduated, women were, however, as likely as men to have taken a job in the information technology industry. Whether and for how long they actually remain in the field is another matter. We have seen that the field does not provide them with the same opportunities as men. Women in our study received fewer job interviews and offers and were nearly shut out of the highly visible student leadership ranks. If we think in terms...

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