Gender And The Digital Divide


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Gender and the digital divide in South Africa

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Gender And The Digital Divide

  1. 1. University of the Western Cape Department of Library & Information Science Gender and the Digital Divide: What are the issues? Patricia Khati 2548233 ICT Trends and Applications Lecturer: S Zinn 8 September 2009
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Digital divide is the gap that exists between people who are information literate and those who are not. </li></ul><ul><li>Also the gap between people who have access to the necessary ICTs and those who do not have them. </li></ul><ul><li>Mphidi (2004) state that the digital divide can be defined as the gap between people who have access to digital technologies and information communication tools and those who simply do not have the advantage of accessing these technologies. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Factors contributing to the digital divide <ul><li>According to Mphidi (2004) there are a few factors that contribute to the digital divide. </li></ul><ul><li>These factors include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gender </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Physical disability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Physical access to ICTs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of ICT skills and support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cultural and behavioural attitudes with regards to technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relevancy of content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Age </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Racial segregation </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Gender and the digital divide <ul><li>The digital divide has usually been used to describe inequalities between certain social groups such as gender in their access to computers and the internet. </li></ul><ul><li>It is also used to compare rates in access among these groups (Gorski, 2001). </li></ul><ul><li>He states that the gender digital divide refers to the growing gap in access rates among males and females. </li></ul><ul><li>According to Mphidi (2004) more women have limited access to the internet than men, and this is because many people perceive IT to be a technical subject associated with men, while many females avoid it. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Gender and the digital divide cont… <ul><li>According to Gorski (2001) many of the “gender inequities in society and other media are replicated online” </li></ul><ul><li>As the internet pornography industry is growing and cyberstalking and the ease of sexual predators attaining information about women online is increasing, so it results in many girls and women shying away from the internet. </li></ul><ul><li>Also hostile to females are professional and academic performances in mathematics, sciences, computer sciences and engineering, all of which are traditionally male dominated and linked to computers and the internet as well as the access to ICTs </li></ul>
  6. 6. Gender… <ul><li>Gorski (2001) states that this is according to research, as females are driven away from these fields as early as primary school by their school customs, classroom traditions and their cultural gender roles in society. </li></ul><ul><li>He also states that the same time that when females were more than 50 percent of the people accessing the internet, just 7 percent of the Bachelor’s degrees in engineering were introduced to females and only 20 percent of IT professionals were females. </li></ul><ul><li>As this may represent equality in access rate and a major leap forward Gorski argues that this does not signify the end of the gender digital divide. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Women and the internet <ul><li>According to Kennedy, Wellman & Klement (2003:73) most women have been online less than men and when they do go online they spend less time on the internet than men do. </li></ul><ul><li>They argue that According to the society’s norms girls and boys are raised up differently, with girls not strongly advised to have interests in computers and scientific objects. </li></ul><ul><li>Kennedy (2003: 75) also states that it is not enough just to know that the gender roles exists, but we should know and understand why it exists and how it plays a role in gender and internet use. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Women and the internet cont … <ul><li>Molotsane (2006: 41): more than half of Africa’s population is women and that it is impossible to have development without including women. </li></ul><ul><li>He also mentions that if Africa wants to enjoy the benefits of the global information society it should make a point that “women’s productive potential is given free reign by empowering them with information”. </li></ul><ul><li>Most of Africa’s women live in the rural areas and are ruled by poverty, this should therefore be taken to consideration when decisions about network architecture and equipment are taken (Molotsane, 2006:42). </li></ul>
  9. 9. Conclusion <ul><li>Not being familiar with ICTs and the lack of understanding it also plays part in the microcosm of gender inequalities that exist in society today; in order for this situation to be made right, the government should make sure that ICTs are made available to all females in Africa. </li></ul><ul><li>People such as men and women especially who do not have access to the internet and the World Wide Web through ICTs (information communication technologies) in this information age are disadvantaged when it comes to accessing information. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Conclusion cont… <ul><li>It is clear that the digital divide is a serious problem and needs urgent attention from the various stakeholders such as libraries or information centres. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Bibliography <ul><li>Gorski, P. 2001. Understanding the digital divide from a multicultural education framework. [Online] Available </li></ul><ul><li>Kennedy, T, Wellman, B & Klement. K. 2003. Gendering the digital divide. IT & Society . 1 (5): 72-96 </li></ul><ul><li>Molotsane, P. 2006. From nominal to phenomenal gender balance in the digital world. Global Issue . 2006: 41-42 </li></ul><ul><li>Mphidi, H. 2004. Digital divide or digital exclusion . [Online] Available: [Accessed 4 March 2009]. </li></ul>