Date of Award

1-1-2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Faculty

Faculty of Communications and Creative Industries

First Advisor

Dr Leila Green

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Lyn Hurst

Abstract

This research investigates the role of information communication technologies (ICTs) in the promotion of rural women's participation in governmental decision-making. The origins of the research lie in apparent discrepancies between the Australian government’s high-level, policy commitment to increase rural women's involvement in government decision-making and the continuing barriers to their participation as demonstrated by researchers such as Elix and Lambert, (1998); and Wilkinson and Alston, (1999). This research deploys a feminist action research methodology to explore new ways to increase rural women's involvement in government decision-making in Western Australian. The first phase of the research, a phenomenological field study, investigated two research questions, • Why are so few rural women involved in government decision-making in Western Australia? and • What are new ways to increase rural women's involvement in government decision-making in Western Australia? The second phase of the research explored rural women's receptiveness to the implementation of information and communication technologies and any issues they had with using them. In phase one, 21 women from seven rural communities in Western Australia were interviewed to understand their experiences of the government decision-making system. Drawing on Covey's (1999) and Bronfenbrenner's (1979) frameworks, a Government decision-making framework was formulated to bring together the barriers and drivers that affect rural women's engagement with decision-making. This included three levels of factors that influence rural women's involvement - personal, interpersonal and cultural. Further, the Change strategies framework was developed to outline new ways to increase rural women's involvement in government decision-making. Five change strategies, targeting the personal resource and cultural level of the government decision making system were identified. Phase two of the study is a case study of an online meeting between 67 Western Australian rural women and the then Deputy Premier. It showed that rural women found the online government meeting reduced barriers such as limited resources of time and money, but, new barriers with using the technology emerged. A clear outcome is a paradigm shift from prioritising homogeneity to heterogeneity among government decision-makers is needed to address rural women’s different personal, interpersonal and cultural needs.

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