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Same but different: understanding womens experience of IT in the UAE

Vodanovich, Shahper, Urquhart, Cathy and Shakir, Maha (2010) Same but different: understanding womens experience of IT in the UAE. ISSN 1681-4835

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Information Communications Technologies (ICTs) have become a potent global force in transforming social, economic, and political life. Given the centrality and importance of ICTs, men and women need to have equal opportunities to access, use, and master them. In particular, it could be asked whether women in Islamic societies within the GCC region have equal access to these new technologies? What are some of the promising new social, economic and political opportunities for Islamic women in the ICT sector, or does ICT access and use by those women replicate patterns of segregation seen elsewhere in their societies? What are the barriers that women, especially those in the Islamic world, have to overcome to actively participate in the promise of these technologies? We use grounded theory as our preliminary research methodology to analyse interviews with women who work in the ICT sector in the UAE We discuss five major themes from the research: Westernization, IT as Modernity, Education, Government Initiatives, and Gender Perspective, and introduce a preliminary framework of the area. We conclude by discussing some inherent contradictions of women’s ICT use in a society that wishes to modernize, rather than Westernize, and how this is played out in our study.

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