IMMIGRANT WOMEN AND THE DIGITAL DIVIDE: THE CASE OF PORTUGAL
1 Independent Researcher (PORTUGAL)
2 University of Coimbra (PORTUGAL)
3 University of Minho (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Information and communication technologies (ICT) have reached an unprecedented level of importance in contemporary societies, as the quantity and variety of accessible and shareable information rapidly rises. However, despite the growth in the access to information and technology, there are still significant disparities at a local and global level, which demand an urgent study and analysis. It is crucial to take a closer look at geographical areas, groups and cultures from the margins and understand how ICT can influence social inclusion(s) or exclusion(s).
Therefore, this study aims to understand inclusion(s) and exclusion(s) caused by the technological field among a specific group, this being immigrant women in Portugal. The technological field and the internet show multiple divisions, represented by the concept of digital divide. This divide is expressed, namely, in the difficulty in accessing and using technology and information, creating multiple barriers for immigrant women. This digital divide has remained understudied in Portugal, making it relevant to conjure up connections between gender studies, cultural studies and information and communication sciences. It is then crucial to question the information society and understand how marginalized groups, in particular immigrant women in Portugal, (re)structure and express themselves in the digital area. Several factors are brought to the discussion, specifically socioeconomic status, age, origin, academic/educational qualifications, and profession, in an attempt to understand how these can influence access and ability to use ICT, as well as how they are used by the immigrant women in order to have a voice in the information society.
We have studied and analyzed contemporary academic literature from transdisciplinary subjects, such as information and communication sciences, gender studies and cultural studies, serving as a fundamental basis for our reflections. We have then used empirical data, statistics and official studies undertaken in Portugal in order to support our considerations.
The data we have gathered has as its main focus the numbers of access and use of ICT and internet by these women, thus complementing the study of articles on the themes. This paper presents a theoretical examination of the digital divide in Portugal, aiming at contributing to a further understanding of dichotomies (inclusions and exclusions) created by ICT and access to internet. We concluded that immigrant women in Portugal have less access to internet, and ICT in general, compared to Portuguese women, and also that the level of access varies according to nationality, age, profession, qualification and socioeconomic status. These insights can be used as a starting point for future questions and future research into inequalities between individuals and groups in the digital era.
Keywords: Digital divide, gender, immigration, Portugal, access to the internet.