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Handbook of Gender, Work, and Organization by Patricia Yancey Martin, David Knights,, Emma L Jeanes

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Chapter 16

Gender and Work: A Technofeminist Analysis

Judy Wajcman

London School of Economics and Political Science

The purpose of this chapter is to locate current discussions about women’s position in science, engineering, and technology in the wider context of feminist debates on gender and technology. Indeed, these debates developed largely in response to the long-standing marginalization of women from technically-oriented organizations and professions, such as engineering. So it is not surprising that early feminist analyses of technology tended to have a pessimist tone. Technology was seen as a defining feature of masculinity, perpetuating and producing occupational segregation by sex in organizations.

Since then, ground breaking developments in digitalization and biotechnologies have led many contemporary feminists to surmise that the traditional link between technology and male privilege is finally being severed. This chimes with theories of the ‘information society’ or ‘knowledge economy’, that argue that the old hierarchies are disintegrating and being replaced by less rigid and more flexible networks. Globalization gurus like Manuel Castells give prominence to the intensity, extensity, and velocity of global flows, interactions, and networks embracing all social domains. For these writers, such changes herald an exciting new post-traditional network society.

The Internet is the central emblem of these changes for both cybergurus and cyberfeminists. The idea that the ...

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