Woman and information systems development: Not just a pretty (inter)face?

Ruth Woodfield*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


The paper reviews literature that claims that for the first two decades of its existence, the computer industry was insular, esoteric and disproportionately populated by men. It cites feminist and industry commentary that claims that these sub-cultural features have had a negative impact on information systems (IS∥ development, and that because they possess more rounded profiles -- typically possessing both social as well as technical skills -- the advent of more women into the sector would lead to improvements in design and golden opportunities for female developers. The paper discusses qualitative interview data elicited from developers designed to assess the likelihood of these predictions holding true. Specifically, it discusses the common-sense discourses deployed to represent male and female workers’ social and technical skills. It concludes that the processes whereby both types of skills are recognised are highly complex and that such processes often privilege male workers and their competencies, so that we should remain sceptical of any over-optimistic predictions that a shift in the quantities of women undertaking IS work will automatically lead to a shift in the qualitative nature of such systems and the contexts within which they are produced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-138
Number of pages20
JournalInformation Technology & People
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2002


  • Computer industry
  • Corporate culture
  • Gender
  • Women


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