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CULTURE NOT NUMBERS: DILEMMAS AND DISCOURSES OF THE UNDERREPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN COMPUTING

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Abstract

Where are the women in computing? This dissertation explores the underrepresentation of women in computing as a cultural issue. After considering the role of women in the history of computing, it examines contemporary interventions to address gender bias and promote gender diversity in the tech sector and Silicon Valley. Not for profit organizations operate as intermediaries that work to raise awareness of gender bias and facilitate institutional alignment on diversity policy and practice across corporate, academic, and the public sectors. This research used a multi-method approach that included critical discourse analysis, participant observation, and qualitative method. Moments of discourse were analyzed to reveal and illuminate dilemmas such as the phenomenon of unconscious bias and the prospect and dilemma of male allies for culture change. Also explored was the tension between focusing on diversity metrics vs. mounting intervention to produce durable culture change the face of deeply entrenched attitudes and practices that push back overt and subtle ways. Gendered occupational identities and biased institutional practices reverberate through the tech sector and more broadly in the structures of society. The conclusion raises uncomfortable questions, such as whether the work on gender diversity is ever "done," and who will continue to put pressure on companies to reconcile tensions between business performance and social justice.

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Date Issued

2018-08-30

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Keywords

gender diversity; technical workplace; women in computing; Information technology; Communication; Gender studies; critical discourse analysis; culture change; gender bias

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Committee Chair

Humphreys, Lee

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Committee Member

Gillespie, Tarleton L.
Kline, Ronald R.
Jackson, Steven J.

Degree Discipline

Communication

Degree Name

Ph. D., Communication

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document

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Attribution 4.0 International

Types

dissertation or thesis

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