Gender and Public Access Computing: An International Perspective

Abstract

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and public access to computers with Internet connectivity in particular, can assist community development efforts and help bridge the so-called digital divide. However, use of ICT may not be the same for women as it is for men. Technical, social and cultural barriers exacerbate women’s exclusion from the benefits of ICT for development. This paper is based on a qualitative analysis of the benefits of ICT and the barriers facing women to fully realize those benefits, particularly through public access places such as libraries, telecenters and cybercafés. We describe individual benefits such as increased self-esteem, reduced isolation, access to markets, empowerment and access to health information. We also describe collective benefits such as economic growth, improved health and education, capacity building and cultural transformation. Finally, we discuss barriers that are particularly significant to women such as location, infrastructure and connectivity; time and money; lack of relevant content; low education and literacy; and social norms and perceptions. This paper draws from reports of a larger study of public access venues in 25 developing countries around the world, which are publicly available online.

Recommended Citation

Terry, Allison, & Gómez, Ricardo. (2010). Gender and Public Access Computing: An International Perspective. The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries, Vol 43. University of Nebraska.