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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.905 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v3.i1-2.60
pages 77-93

SURVIVAL IN A GENDERED DOMAIN: THE STRATEGIES OF WOMEN TECHNOLOGIST RETURNERS

Ailsa Swarbrick
Open University, Yorkshire Region, 2 Trevelyan Square, Boar Lane, Leeds LSI 6ED, United Kingdom

ABSTRACT

For a career in male-dominated technologicalenvirvnments, women need to develop both a sustained commitment and strategies to survive. This article examines the work-history experiences of women technologist returners who updated through a government-funded scheme, Women in Technology (WIT), provided by the U.K.'s Open University from 1981 to 1995.
Quantitative data from annual monitoring reports were used to produce a framework that suggested lines to investigate. These were explored in qualitative interviews with a sample of the women. The particular focus is on how they learned to combat the closure strategies of a gendered domain, and to what extent they perceived this as problematic. The analysis covers three stages: first, their attempts to cope with conspicuous minority status in education and training; second, their responses to a combination of public and private constraints when building up professional employment experience; and third, the period of recovering their technological careers after WIT study.
As isolated minority individuals, their determination offers no threat to the dominant structures of professional technology. Making individual experience public enables private concerns to be redefined as shared, and contributes to the empowerment process.


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