Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Minority Women See Advancement through Information Technology

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Minority Women See Advancement through Information Technology

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA.

When compared to middle class and professional minority women, poor minority women have higher expectations for social and economic advancement through opportunities in information technology (IT), including escaping poverty as a step to upward mobility, according to a researcher at Penn State University.

A study by Dr. Lynette Kvasny, assistant professor of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State, finds that in contrast, highly educated, middle-class and professional women view IT as offering fewer opportunities for advancement, suggesting that IT and gender studies shouldn't focus on women as a homogenous group. She based her findings on interviews with African American women participating in a 14-week computer-training program in 2001 in Atlanta. The research is detailed in a paper, entitled "Triple Jeopardy: Race, Gender and Class Politics of Women in Technology."

"If you're talking about developing programs in technology training, it's important to understand the history and culture of the people you are working with and not just implement a standardized curriculum," Kvasny says. "Populations of women have different and competing perceptions about technology's potential impact on their life experiences."

Many IT and gender studies have looked at women as a collective and have generalized from the experiences of middle-class women in the IT profession or studying at universities, Kvasny notes. These studies focus primarily on White women who feel marginalized in the White male-dominated IT workplace. …

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