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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. (2004) Exercising different choices - the gender divide and government policy making in the ‘global knowledge economy’. ISSN 1743-3010

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Abstract

This paper considers UK government policy making in the so-called 'global knowledge economy' in relationship to gender and the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT's). 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; 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. Issues of gender differences in access and the use of technology are one of the features of this divide. Women are currently marginalized from the technological community and therefore hardly feature in the shaping of innovation and use of technology in British society (Alexander, 2001a). In our discussion we suggest government policy making addresses neither the construct of gender nor the construct of technology. We argue that gendered relations in the home, work, education and community contribute to the shaping of the gendered experiences of using technology. We suggest that it is not possible to look for solutions to the 'gender-divide' without exploring the current structures of power and inequality in the use of technologies and ICT's in society. UK government initiatives, however well intentioned may simply serve to reinforce and perpetuate this gender divide.

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