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ICTs: empowering Western Australian women?

Green, Joanne Helen (2005) ICTs: empowering Western Australian women? PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The idea that women are empowered through their learning and use of ICTs (ICTs are defined as computers, the Internet, and e-mail for the purposes of this thesis) has been adopted by international development agencies and the governments of most nations throughout the world. Hence, many agencies and governments have made courses on computers, the Internet, and e-mail available to women with the aim of empowering them.

Empowerment is defined variously and has at its core the social, political, and economic development of women to create equality and challenge patriarchy. Women's empowerment seeks to bring about societal change that will create conditions and structures that foster and maintain gender equality in all facets of life.

This thesis examines the notion of women's empowerment through ICTs. The first section of the thesis uses development and empowerment literature to define, explain, and critique women's empowerment and the conditions under which it is supposed to operate. The second section presents, analyses, and discusses the data collected from a questionnaire answered by some Western Australian women on their experiences of ICTs courses offered by the Western Australian government and their subsequent life changes. The questionnaire was designed to establish whether or not women are empowered to create societal change and challenge patriarchy, as suggested in literature.

The results from the questionnaire show that the majority of the women in the cohort were empowered to the intrapersonal (or micro-) level only. Hence, there was little evidence for the majority of women of the interpersonal (or meso-) level and no evidence of the societal (macro-) level empowerment of the women through ICTs. Therefore, this study does not support the contention that women are empowered through ICTs.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Supervisor(s): Trees, Kathryn and Sudweeks, Fay
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