Going Up the Down Escalator: An ethnographic case study of the uptake and utilisation of information and communication technologies by three Women in Film and Television (WIFT) organisations at the State, National and International level, 1995-2000

Carriere, Glenda Mary (2005) Going Up the Down Escalator: An ethnographic case study of the uptake and utilisation of information and communication technologies by three Women in Film and Television (WIFT) organisations at the State, National and International level, 1995-2000. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This thesis examines the implementation of the new digital information and communications

technologies (ICTs) by the Women in Film and Television (WIFT) Non-government organisation (NGO) at the state, national and international levels through an ethnographic, participant observation case study, informed by the precepts of feminist research. A quantitative survey of Australian peak women's NGOs participating in the electronic mailing list - Pamela's List is also conducted mapping the context in which WIFT operates and providing an overview of Australian women's peak NGOs' uptake and use of ICTs. The

findings are situated in relation to a review of the international surveys available on women's

NGOs and the surveys and research reports available on the overall NGO sector, nationally

and internationally.

The study addresses two neglected areas in the ICT literature. For over a decade Feminist

theorists have pointed to the omission of gender as a focus in studies on the new information

and communications technologies. There has also been little research and few surveys into the uptake of ICTs by either women's NGOs or the broader NGO sector, nationally or internationally.

The detailed, longitudinal case study of the implementation process from pre-establishment

through to advanced use of digital communications by a women's NGO at state, national and international level is also unique. Combined with the survey, it affords the opportunity to not only document which ICTs are being adopted but also why particular technologies are being used over others and how they are being used.

Despite key successes, the results show less than optimum uptake, a lack of advanced or strategic use, and the myriad of challenges shared by all three WIFT organisations, Australian women's peak NGOs, and the national and international NGO sector in utilising ICTs. The reasons for this are analysed revealing the conflicting values between the NGO sector and

those underlying the development of ICTs and demonstrates that difficulties systemic to both

the technology and the NGO sector are limiting access and utilisation by women's NGOs.

While the myths of women as technophobic are seriously challenged by the findings, the study

highlights the importance of gender factors in limiting access and uptake and shaping the use

of ICTs. Australian women's NGOs' uptake is shown to be less than their mixed gender

counterparts and the study also reveals a lack of acknowledgement by government of gender as a key factor in the uptake of ICTs.

It is also shown that significant funding, infrastructure support and policy initiatives recognising the special technological and communication challenges of women's NGOs and the overall NGO sector are needed, if both are to fully and strategically embrace these technologies and function effectively in the new millennium.

The significant contribution to knowledge of this thesis lies foremost in furthering the

understanding of gender as a key factor in the uptake and utilisation of the new ICTs while at

the same time challenging the patriarchal myth of women as technophobic. It thus contributes

to the reconstruction of the epistemologies surrounding women's relationship to technology.

The study also contributes to furthering the current very limited knowledge and understanding

of women's NGOs and the overall NGO sector's uptake and use of information and communications technology. The knowledge and the critical insight provided is not purely historical but rather as the push to take up broadband begins, has relevance to this and future technological innovations. Without an understanding of the process, requirements and challenges faced by women's NGOs and the NGO sector in general, the existing problems will continue to be replicated.

The material presented in this study will be useful to all women's organisations and NGOs

contemplating establishing digital communications or wishing to review their current use of these technologies. It will also be of value to government and policy makers seeking to establish policies and initiatives that will enable NGOs to take up the new information and communication technologies.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 16020
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Haseman, Bradley & Cunningham, Stuart
Keywords: Internet: Gender issues, Access, Emancipatory, Democratisation; Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs); New Media Technologies; Women's Non Government Organisations (NGOs); Non Profit Organisations (NPOs); Women in film and Television, (WIFT) Case Study; Pamela's List; Australian Peak Women's NGOs
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Department: Creative Industries
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Glenda Mary Carriere
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:55
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:42

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