Abstract - The Information Society 23(1)

ICT Inclusion and Gender: Tensions in Narratives of Network Engineer Training

Hazel Gillard, Nathalie Mitev and Susan Scott

Government, major ICT companies and educational institutions in the UK currently claim that ICT skills training offers inclusion into the new economy. We focus on a private-public training initiative and its impact on the socially excluded, specifically lone women parents. Narrative data from four UK educational sites participating in this computer network engineer training programme highlight a systemic paradox: that ICT skills development initiatives designed to support lone women parents are simultaneously working in opposition to broader policy goals such as Work-Life Balance and ironically serve to reproduce the participants’ classification as socially excluded. The assumptions underpinning the model of social inclusion driving the ICT skills training course are analysed critically using the concepts of community of practice, classificatory systems and marginalisation. Our findings suggest that ICT training courses and initiatives should be accompanied by changes in pedagogic practice that accommodate the more wide ranging needs of those targeted for inclusion, as well as changes in employment settings. We conclude by exploring the implications of this for government policy formation, business vendor qualifications, the design of ICT skills training initiatives, and our understanding of the role of ICT skills in overcoming the digital divide.


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