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Exercising different choices - the gender divide and government policy making in the 'global knowledge economy'

French, Sheila and Richardson, Helen J. (2002) Exercising different choices - the gender divide and government policy making in the 'global knowledge economy'. [Conference or Workshop Item] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This paper considers UK government policy making in the so-called 'global knowledge economy'. Britain's engagement is seen as crucial to its future success in the global market place (Alexander, 2001a). Individuals and organisations are urged to change their way of working, learning and living in this 'new economy'. High value is being placed on those with ICT skills and the UK government recognises the need to ensure society has the necessary skills to take part. At the same time there is a heightened awareness of a growing digital divide in British Society between the 'have-nets' and have-nots. Issues of gender differences in access and the use of technology are one of the features of this divide (Alexander, 2001b). In their efforts to reverse what they refer to as the 'challenge of women's participation in ICT' (Alexander, 2001b), the UK government propose a number of initiatives (DfEE 2001). The aim is to get women to engage in technology and gain access to IT in education, work and in their social lives. With the use of role models they wish to improve the image of IT. In education they will encourage girls to be to be enthusiastic about the technologies and gain confidence to compete with the boys in what is recognised as male domination in ICT's in the classroom. They suggest career paths that are relevant to women and have working conditions to support women and their needs. They promote changing business attitudes to employing women and encouraging flexible working conditions for parents.

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