In this paper, I examine how and why the situated knowledge and lived experiences of working-class African American women shape their standpoint on information technology (IT). Using the biblical metaphor of the exodus and narratives of ascent, these women view IT access and training as part of a strategy for escaping poverty and despair. Whereas most of the extant gender and IT research provides rich insights into the marginalization of women, the women in this study felt empowered by IT. This contradictory outcome has three implications for the study of gender and IT. First, researchers must consider the multiple identities such as gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and sexuality that shape and are shaped by women's engagement with IT. Second, the notion of IT workforce should take into account not only the highly skilled IT workers who design and build IT artifacts, but should also consider the lower skilled workers who indirectly use IT. Third, IT training programs that serve working-class women must go beyond the transfer of IT skills to individuals. They must also redress the persistent structural barriers of poverty, spatial isolation, illiteracy, sporadic work, and racial and ethnic discrimination that systematically limit women's ability to compete for jobs that provide higher incomes, greater safety, more security, full-time hours, increased benefits, higher status, and less stressful work environments.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Management Information Systems
- Computer Networks and Communications