Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

School

School of Computer and Information Science

RAS ID

2903

Comments

Webb, S. G. (2005). Diversity in information and communication technologies: The cost of lost opportunities. In Proceedings of the Inaugural Transforming Information & Learning Conference. Perth, Australia: Edith Cowan University.

Abstract

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry develops products that are used by many people regardless of gender, age, social status, ethnicity, or religion. Technology has had a significant impact on the way that information is produced, stored and communicated, especially in the fields that have traditionally been heavy producers of information such as libraries and education institutions. Though all types of people use technology, not all types of people are involved in the design and development of technology. Women represent just twenty percent of Australian ICT professionals. They often receive less pay than their male colleagues and are greatly under-represented in management and executive level positions. The rate of participation of women in ICT has declined steadily since it peaked in the mid eighties, while at the same time, the participation of women in other previously male-dominated fields such as mathematics and physics has continued to climb. Minority and ethnic groups such as Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, and Australian Aboriginals are also underrepresented in ICT, both in tertiary studies and in industry. This under-representation of women and minorities in ICT results in a lack of diversity in the creative teams who design and develop this technology. Apart from the issue of equity or fairness, a lack of diversity means that technology is being produced from a very narrow viewpoint which may affect its quality. There is also a hidden or ‘opportunity cost’ in technology that is never designed and is not produced because of a lack of diversity in creative teams. This concept paper will address the potential impacts that a lack of diversity in the teams creating technology might have on the way that libraries operate, and the way that information is produced, stored and communicated.

 
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