Gender, Technology and Knowledge

University dissertation from Lunds Univ., Dept. of Sociology

Abstract: Gender, Technology and Knowledge During the last 15 years questions concerning gender, technology and knowledge, have become increasingly recognized as central to the field of the sociology of technology. Nonetheless, critical questions remain unanswered. These issues are addressed here through investigations of the relationship between gender, work, knowledge and technology. This thesis is composed of an introduction and four independent but related chapters. The first chapter "Computerization and the Skill in Women's Work” critically reviews and explores issues of skill, computerization and women’s work. In a discussion of gendered construction of skill, the notion of skill is problematized as a social –historical category. The relation of women’s employment to new technologies is explored further in the paper, “The Implications of Computerization and Microelectronics on Women’s Employment in South-East Asia. This chapter addresses the issues of technological change and women's work in an international perspective. A major question developed here is why has the introduction of new technology has differential effects on women's and men's work both in the context of industrialized countries and in the Third Worlds. The analysis uses an impact approach to assess the influence of new technology, i.e. computerization on women’s work, but also gives an indication of social shaping of technology in which the form and organization of work after computerization influences the skill and knowledge which women use in work. The chapter finishes with a review of the literature on women, work and micro-electronics in South-east Asia. While critical the chapter is not anti¬technological; rather, it seeks to open a critical discussion about technological change in women's work. This critical stance needs to be seen in the context of the rosy promises made about new technologies by their industrial advocates. Chapter three ”Technology, Knowledge and Ethics in the Practice and Tradition of Swedish Midwives”, presents a study of Swedish midwives’ use of technology, and is framed by a discussion of feminist research and research on working life. The central argument is that a more nuanced perspective on the medicalization thesis opens a new perspective on knowledge, bodies and technologies. The method of research circles is presented. The last chapter, “Globalization, Technological Discourses and Gender – New Technology in the Workplace: The Case of Computerization in Indian Banking”, presents research from a project about the introduction and diffusion of new technologies in the office service sector of developing countries. Centr4al issues in this research are globalizing processes and technological change in Third World countries, the impact of work and skills, and changes in gender divisions of labor. The research method is a modified social actor network approach.

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