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Gender Codes: Why Women Are Leaving Computing by Thomas J. Misa

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Part III: Media and Culture

8

Cultural Perceptions of Computers in Norway 1980–2007

From “Anybody” Via “Male Experts” to “Everybody”

HILDE G. CORNELIUSSEN

Even though Norway is a country with a strong sense and impression of gender equality and tops the World Economic Forum’s gender equality ranking, the labor market is still strongly divided by gender. More women than men attend higher education [1], but computer education is heavily male dominated. Observers in many countries are concerned about computers and computing causing a gender gap, in particular, in relation to computing education and the computing professions, where the number of women, never very high, has decreased during the last decade. These concerns are evident in Norway. In discussions about gender and ICT (information and communication technology) there are often underlying assumptions of gender as a stable structure and the result of “nature.” However, unless we believe that men really do have certain masculine qualities that make them more suitable than women in relation to computers, we need to examine the development of ideas about gender and computers. How was the image of men’s close relationship to computers, along with ideas about women’s indifference, constructed and maintained? How has the computer been perceived, and to whom and what was it considered helpful or necessary?

This chapter explores how the computer was culturally appropriated in Norway since the 1980s. We will explore how the relationship ...

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