[Linux-aus] Gender discrimination in IT (was Re: Victim Impact Statement)

Lev Lafayette lev at levlafayette.com
Wed Nov 6 09:26:46 EST 2013

Hi everyone,

I have no responded to this issue as yet, rather, I preferred to do some
research from the peer-reviewed journals rather than work on anecdotal
evidence when this first came up. Whilst I'm in the middle of writing a
'blog post on the subject, having reviewed some 20 papers and a PhD thesis
on the subject I can suggest the following:

Every single one the cases that were brought to tribunal under the Sex
Discrimination Act in IT in Australia since the legislation was enacted
involved employers engaging in direct discrimination against women, with
the overwhelming majority of the claims related to employment due to
pregnancy and family commitments. In all but one case the tribunal found
that the employer had discriminated against women on the basis of sex.

Hunter, R., Discrimination in IT Organisations, Labor and Industry, Volume
16, No 3, 2006, p91-108

Note that this is direct discrimination that actually made it to the
tribunal. It does not include those cases were an agreement was made prior
to reaching to the tribunal, or those cases where the employee did suffer
discrimination but put up with it, moved, or was simply unaware of their

Nor does it include the issues of workplace culture which reduce the
desire of women to seek employment in IT, or for employers to engage in
subtle discriminative patters based on gendered expectations of
employment. The combination of direct discrimination and an indirect
discriminatory culture also affects the self-efficiacy of women concerning
IT work. These gendered expectations are no mere guess; they have been
confirmed by widespread surveys.

Lemons M, and Parzinger M., Gender Schemas: A Cognitive Explanation of
Discrimination of Women in Technology, Journal of Business Psychology,
Volume 22, 2007, p91-98

Rosenbloom, J,. et al., Why are there so few women in information
technology? Assessing the role of personality in career choices, Journal
of Economic Psychology Vol 29, 2008, 543-554

Atkins, M., et al., Making Sense of the Barriers Women Face in the
Information Technology Work Force: Standpoint Theory, Self-disclosure, and
Causal Maps, Sex Roles, Vol 54, 2006, p831-844

This is, of course, just a tip of the iceberg of the research that shows
direct and indirect discrimination towards women in information

None of this of course denigrates that other forms of discrimination occur
towards groups in other fields. At least however on a Linux Australia
mailing list, it would be good if people did just a little bit of research
of the literature prior to expressing what they must know is a contentious

All the best,

Lev Lafayette, BA (Hons), GCertPM, MBA
mobile:  0432 255 208
RFC 1855 Netiquette Guidelines

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