Cyprus University of Technology (CYPRUS)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 3422-3431
ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.0086
Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain
Gender inequality can be defined as the lack of “discrimination in relation to opportunities, allocation of resources or benefits and access to services for women or men” (Elwer et al., 2012, p.1). The gap between men and women is gradually shrinking, yet the underrepresentation of women in higher positions still exists. Neyer et al. (2013b) conceptualize gender equality beyond ‘‘sameness of distribution’’, providing three dimensions of gender inequality related to employment, economic resources and the division of housework and family care. Gender equality is achieved when one is able to access and enjoy the same resources, opportunities and rewards regardless their gender (Workplace, Gender Equality Agency, Australian Government, 2013). The complexity of the matter involves economic, demographic and behavioral factors that may contribute to increasing gender-based gaps in the labor market (International Labour Organization, 2012). According to ILO (2012) it is important to promote equal opportunities for women and men to obtain decent work, meaning to be fairly paid productive work carried out in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. The newly adopted United Nations agenda for 2030 highlights the importance of women’s empowerment in employment, salaries and working environment as a basic human right (UN news center, 2015).

Research studies showed a picture of women suffering from low rates of participation in the workforce, decision making and unequal value of their work (Monroe, et al. 2008; Loscocco & Bird, 2012; Blackburn, Jarman, & Racko, 2015). Yet, missing women from professional careers affects both the workforce, as it misses women’s perspective and expertise. Further, most technology is designed by men and one need to consider that technology then reflects those who make it (IGNITE, 2014). Thus, women’s perspective needs to be taken in consideration.

Societies that prefer to pay more men than women have slower growth and reduced income, thus increase in per capita income should consequently improve the quality in life (Dollar & Gatti 1999). Despite the emphasis given in high level political decisions for encouraging women to reach equality, researchers and practitioners often lack understanding of women’s perspective with regard to gender equality and value of their work. With this in mind, this paper aims at portraying the current situation in gender inequality by taking a snapshot of the way women experience and ascribe meaning to it in the fields of academia, business, technology and health care. The paper presents a qualitative study that brought together women from different areas of work (academia, business, information and communications technology, and health care) with different levels of experience and expertise to voice their views regarding to the status of women in their work area, obstacles that they encounter as well as how they perceive technology as a means for overcoming obstacles in their professional development. Data collected demonstrate a variety of challenges faced by women in workplace as well as the need for role models that will allow young women to overcome the stereotypical woman profile as excluded from economic, political and professional life.

The article concludes by linking the empirical results to the existing literature.
Gender, technology, ICT, discrimination, empowerment, perceptions.