Maneuvering an IT career: a study of female IT professionals/practitioners from a millennial generation

Gao, Grace Z. (2022) Maneuvering an IT career: a study of female IT professionals/practitioners from a millennial generation. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
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This thesis responds to prior work that calls for further research with emphasis on non-traditional and non-linear careers, exploring how female IT professionals/practitioners from a millennial generation navigate their working life and their negotiating strategies to counter challenges amplified by other forms of difference in a gendered construct; and individual behavior change and (re)construction in line with their work-life changes. This qualitative study is based on in-depth interviews with twenty-five female IT professionals/practitioners from several developed countries and regions, primarily the United Kingdom, European Union members, the United States, and Australia, who work in web design, digital and software development, user interface development, and codes that connect these business units and services in IT organizations. Rather than simplifying women’s gender, race/ethnicity, age, place of residence and education levels as mutually exclusive categories of experience and analysis, this study brings women’s multifaceted work-life experiences and multiplicity of living into the dialogue, demonstrating millennial women’s work-life experience in IT in a more nuanced manner. The analysis reveals millennial women’s evolving attitudes toward technology and how it affects their career navigation, which are embedded in their daily work-life experiences as well as their ongoing mixed feelings, emotions, motives, and reflections in pursuit of work independence, belonging, and meaningfulness at/in work. Hence, this thesis contributes to offering new perspectives and fostering alternative discussions behind women’s underrepresentation in technology fields.

Individual differences theory of gender and IT has been used as an analytical lens, and the thematic analysis is presented in a way that crosses traditional gendered boundaries in the IT work field while also translating social constructivist philosophy and inequality regimes through empirical work. Given the inherent gendered nature of IT firms and their essentialist-like rhetoric, I argue that millennial women’s agency to mitigate, perceive, compromise, and resist the meanings and connections concerning their subjection is not diminished by power relations in IT and/or knowledge effects on subjectivity. It adds to the existing debates on the gender-technology relationship and the in-between connotations of gender, work-life navigation, and attitudes to technologies, which are no longer static. One of the study’s main findings is that women’s participation in and growth in the IT culture can perform as a mediator in addressing structural/organizational disparity, which is exacerbated in various types of discriminatory actions against difference; while strengthening individuals’ capacity to act against, in which it provides a plausible imaginary to promote women’s future work in IT. It means that, empirically, this will provide IT practitioners with important mechanisms for fostering gender equity and initiatives to enable more young girls from the millennial generation to engage and thrive in historically male-dominated IT fields.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: millennial women, gender and technology, non-linear careers in IT, individual differences, qualitative study
Subjects: G400 Computer Science
N100 Business studies
N600 Human Resource Management
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2022 11:55
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2022 12:02

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