You are on page 1of 205

UNDERSTANDING THE EFFECTS OF TECHNOLOGY LIFE CYCLE MODEL

AND JOB AND LABOR QUEUES ON EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN IN

THE INDIAN SOFTWARE INDUSTRY

By

MANI PANDE
B.A (Hons.), University of Delhi, 1992
M. A., Jawaharlal Nehru University, 1994
M.Phil., Jawaharlal Nehru University, 1997
--------------------------------------------------------
AN ABSTRACT OF A DISSERTATION
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the
Requirements for the degree

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work


College of Arts and Sciences

KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY


Manhattan, Kansas
2004

Chapter One
Introduction

1
Over the past several decades, the nation of India has developed into an important

location in the global software industry. Thousands of new jobs have been created as

multinational software firms have established Indian branch operations, and numerous

domestic start-up firms have been established to produce software. As part of this

process, an increasing number of Indian women have entered the labor market, received

educational training in software development, and obtained employment in the software

industry. It has been estimated that women comprise about 12 per cent of the total work

force (National Association of Software and Service Companies, NASSCOM, 2000).

Presently, little is known about the types of jobs being obtained by Indian women,

although initial evidence suggests that women are concentrated in low-skilled and low-

paying jobs in the software industry in India. This research is among the first studies to

shed light upon the status of women in the software industry in India. The research design

for the study is qualitative involving field research with in-depth, personal interviews of

female workers in the software industry. The research site is the city of New Delhi, India.

Female workers employed in the software industry were identified for participation in the

study through the use of snowball sampling.

This chapter begins by providing a brief overview of technology and skill-training

life cycle model, and examining whether it is applicable to computer technology. Next I

will examine the important factors that produce changes in the job and labor queues,

thereby providing opportunities to women to join certain types of occupations in the

Indian software industry. I will also provide a brief background of theories that have been

developed to understand the relationship between gender and technology. I will then

2
proceed to provide the justification of research. Last, I will provide the organization of

the chapters of the dissertation.

Research Problem

It is a major contention of this study that the theory of job and labor queues as

given by Reskin and Roos (1990), and the theory of technology and skill life cycles as

given by Shanklin, Ryan and Flynn are applicable in understanding the positions of

female workers in the Indian software industry. Economists have argued that a new

technology, introduced slowly at first, becomes more widely accepted as intense and

heavily financed research and development efforts lead to better performance.

Eventually, it reaches a plateau of its performance limits. During the last stage, it

competes with a new technology until the superior technology wins and captures the

market (Ford and Ryan, 1981; Shanklin and Ryans, 1984).

The history of computer programming clearly illustrates that computer technology

has a technology life cycle. The development of the computer is intricately linked with

wartime needs. The first modern computer in the United States, Electronic Numerical

Indicator and Computer (ENIAC), was developed during World War II to calculate

ballistic missile trajectories. The British Colossus, completed in 1943, was used to

unscramble German radio transmissions. These early/first-generation computers were

clumsy machines, composed largely of electromechanical or electrical switches regulated

by vacuum tubes, making operations highly painstaking. A turning point in computer

technology was the introduction of the stored program/second-generation computers. It is

3
my argument that it was at this stage we saw the introduction of a new technology –

stored program computers -- that competed with the old technology – first-generation or

vacuum computers – finally replacing it. The used of stored program technology made

using computers less painstaking and time-consuming because the instructions which

operated the machine were stored in the machine’s memory, along with the data to be

processed. This technology was further improved with the use of transistors during the

1950s. Transistors offered the benefits of speed, reduced size and enhanced reliability

(Kraft, 1977, Greenbaum, 1979, Donato, 1990). And finally the introduction of

microprocessors in the 1970s, which provided the capacity to put a computer on a chip,

led to the introduction of the Personal Computer or PC (Castells, 2000).

Along with changes in hardware, computer software technology has also

undergone tremendous change1. As computer software technology has matured there has

been a trend toward job fragmentation and deskilling (Kraft, 1977). During the early

stages, skills associated with software programming were highly specialized. For

example, the machine/first-generation languages involved putting a sequence of binary

numbers directly through simple toggle switches. The whole process was highly skilled,

tedious and time consuming. The second-generation languages also called assembly

languages made coding easier as they used easy identifiable codes called Mnemonics,

instead of numeric operation codes. Mnemonics are abbreviated versions of English

words that are easy to recognize (Computer Languages, 2002). The third generation

languages made coding less time consuming because the coders did not have to

1
The history of software is inter-related with the history of hardware. Several innovations in software had
little or no impact until they could mesh with corresponding innovations in hardware (Ceruzzi, 1998).
4
familiarize themselves with the internal architecture of the computer. Finally, coding was

deskilled with the introduction of fourth-generation languages during the 1990s that are

user-friendly enabling less technical people to become involved in the programming

process. For example, computer languages such as Visual Basic and HTML, or packages

like Dreamweaver and Flash, now allow novice programmers to develop software

programs or web pages (The History of Computer Programming, 2002). The fourth-

generation languages require few specialized skills as they employ a graphic user

interface (GUI) that is easy to understand, use and master.

It has been further argued that a skill-training life cycle evolves as the level of

demand and standardization of skill changes with the development of a technology. The

early stages of a technology, characterized by a high degree of product innovation, are

relatively skilled and labor intensive. However, as technologies mature, `standardization

and the expanded use and complexity of equipment permit a greater division of labor and

the subdivision of multifaceted tasks into more narrowly defined assignments’ (Flynn,

1993:16). Additionally, the availability of skill training and the mix of institutional

providers vary depending upon the phase of the technology. When a technology is new,

skill training is usually provided on the job through various programs at the workplace.

As with products, increased demand and standardization of skills permits their

‘production’ on a large scale away from R&D sites. During this stage skill training is

shifted to outside educational institutions, as employers cannot capture the return on

investments in general skills. Another reason for this shift is that it is easier to formalize

the training process by providing it in schools as demand for skills grow (Flynn, 1993).

5
The early stages of computer technology, characterized by a high degree of

product innovation, were relatively skill and labor intensive. Also, highly skilled

professionals were required to operate first-generation computers because they were

cumbersome machines. . In the early phases of a technology, skill training is usually

provided on the job. During the early stage of computer technology, hardware

manufacturers provided in-house training to software workers. For example, IBM trained

its staff to provide in-house training courses to employees of companies using IBM

machines. In fact, the training acquired at ‘IBM school’ became so prestigious during the

1950s and early 1960s that government and private employers used the lure of IBM

training to recruit potential employees in what was a tight seller’s market in programming

(Kraft, 1977).

However, as computer technology matured, standardization led to a greater

division of labor and deskilling. But some tasks continued to be relatively highly skilled.

During the latter stages of technology, training is institutionalized. For example, training

of computer professionals in the US has been institutionalized in a three-tiered system:

research universities or schools of management, four-year engineering colleges and two-

year junior institutions (Kraft, 1977).

It is my belief that to understand the stimulus behind changes in job and labor

queues we can utilize, the concept of technology and skill training life cycle. Reskin and

Ross (1990) provided a model of job queues and labor queues to understand how women

are able to make inroads into occupations that were previously male-dominated. The two

authors argue that the most fruitful model sees occupational composition as a result of a

6
dual-queuing process: labor queues order groups of workers in terms of their

attractiveness to employers, and job queues rank jobs in terms of attractiveness to

workers. The two theorists posited that queues are characterized by three structural

properties: the ordering of their elements (i.e. jobs and groups of workers), their shape

(the relative sizes of various elements – population subgroups in the labor queue and

occupations in the job queues), and the intensity of rankers’ preferences (whether or not

elements overlap). Reskin and Roos argued that changes in these three structural

properties provide some groups such as women with jobs that were formerly beyond their

reach. These considerations transform the labor queue into a gender queue resulting in

high level of sex segregation at the workplace.

By definition, the feminization of an occupation results from the disproportionate

recruitment or retention of women workers. Disparate retention of women workers is a

product of changes in the structural features of queues (Reskin and Roos, 1990). Reskin

and Roos have discussed in detail factors that can lead to transformations in job and labor

queues. At this juncture, I will be concerned only with factors that have led to changes in

job and labor queues in the Indian software industry.

The first factor that produces changes in the shape of the job queue is growth in

existing occupations as was witnessed during the 1970s in service sector occupations in

the United States. Job growth supports feminization as it can lead to a shortfall of male

workers (Reskin and Roos, 1990). In addition, growth is especially likely to prompt

employers to resort to women for jobs whose high entry requirements limit the number of

qualified prospects. In such circumstances, employers “reduce their hiring standards,

7
recruit from the disadvantaged labor force, and provide additional training to raise the

productivity of the disadvantaged” (Doeringer and Piore, 1971: 165). In jobs that demand

hard-to-acquire credentials, rapid growth is likely to exhaust the supply of trained

workers from the preferred group (Reskin and Roos, 1990).

The growth of occupations has been an important reason for change in the job

queues in the Indian software industry as the industry witnessed phenomenal growth

during the last decade. Employment in the Indian software industry expanded in the late

1990s with the growth of software firms and software revenues. In 1996, it was

estimated that there were 140,000 software professionals in India. In 2000, the number

of software professionals was estimated at 410,000 (NASSCOM, 2002). Due to the

boom in outsourcing, the number of software professionals increased to 770,000 in 2003

(NASSCOM, 2004).

Most importantly, technological changes remitting from the life cycle of computer

technology further the division of labor, deskill jobs, or alter working conditions. This

leads to a reranking of occupations in the job queue by men, thereby allowing women to

fill these previously male-dominated occupations (Oppenheimer, 1970). As pointed out

earlier, coding was deskilled with the introduction of fourth-generation languages during

the 1990s that are user-friendly, enabling less technical people to become involved in the

programming process. In addition due to technological changes, new jobs such as

Webmaster and content manager have been created that are ranked low in occupational

hierarchy.

8
It is hypothesized that the deskilling of some computer jobs and the creation of

new deskilled jobs are the primary reasons for the feminization of software-related

occupations that are ranked low in the occupational hierarchy. These jobs are not ranked

high in the occupational hierarchy as they are not highly skilled, and have low

occupational prestige. In fact, it has been found that IT occupations that experienced an

influx of women have witnessed a deterioration of rewards and working conditions

(Moghadam, 1997).

There is evidence that a sizeable portion of the work that is outsourced to Indian

software firms is neither technologically advanced nor critical to the business of the firms

outsourcing the work (Arora et al., 1999). Thus the argument that I am putting forward is

that the growth of software industry has created jobs that are ranked low in occupational

hierarchy, and women are more likely to occupy positions that are low in occupational

hierarchy. However, I would like to point out that after the study was conducted, the

latest data shows that increasingly highly skilled work is also being outsourced to India

(Kirplani, 2003). Additionally, the feminization of occupations occurs more rapidly in

small and high-turnover occupations (Reskin and Roos, 1990). In India, labor turnover in

the software industry was very high due to outmigration of members of the Indian labor

force, particularly to the US (Arora et al., 1999). At this juncture, I would like to point

out that outmigration to the US has been stemmed because the US government decreased

the quota for H1B visas issued to Indian citizens to 65,000 in 2003.

Another factor that leads to women making inroads into previously male-

dominated occupations is employers reranking of sexes in the labor queue (Reskin and

9
Roos, 1990). Cultural change due to modernization, information from the mass media,

and the increasing labor force participation of women have led to a change in the mindset

of employers.

Colleges and universities have played an important role in changing the shape of

the labor queue as they provide women with increasing opportunities to acquire skills

(Reskin and Roos, 1990). The training sector in India has grown along with the software

industry. Many private, for-profit, institutes provide diplomas in computers (Arora et al.,

1999). In fact, women comprise about half of the student population in these institutes.

(Yee, 2000). This is in direct contrast to men who go to elite institutes such as the Indian

Institutes of Technology (IITs) to pursue a formal degree in engineering.

The growth of the software industry in India has reshaped the job queue by

creating thousands of computer-related jobs that have outstripped the supply of qualified

males. Women have benefited from the shortages as employers have had to resort to hire

women. Changes in computer technology, such as growth of PCs and introduction of

user-friendly computer languages, have led to the deskilling of some software jobs and

have transformed the structure of job queues. In addition, new jobs have been created

that are ranked low in the occupational hierarchy. The reranking of occupations in the job

queue has opened employment opportunities for women, primarily in the lower rungs of

the occupational hierarchy that were not available to them earlier. However, we must

remember that deskilling reinforces the gendered division of labor as women continue to

be concentrated in occupations that are ranked lower in the occupational hierarchy

(Hafkin and Taggart, 2001).

10
The major reason for changes in the labor queue related to the technology life

cycle was that with the institutionalization of the training process, an increasing number

of women were able to acquire the requisite skills. In the early stages of computer

technology, training was provided in-house. Therefore, it was out of reach of most

women as opportunities were limited. It was only during the later stages of development

in computer technology that private educational institutions started providing training in

computer technology. This provided an opportunity for women to acquire the requisite

technical skills.

Background Research

In order to understand the reasons behind the concentration of women in low

skilled and low paying occupations, we need to understand the reasons behind the low

participation of women in the field of engineering. The last twenty years have seen the

development of an important field of research: feminist studies of technology. There are

primarily three main theories on the relationship between gender and technology: eco-

feminism, liberal feminism and technology as masculine culture. According to eco-

feminism, technology represents a way in which men try to dominate, and control both

nature and women (Van Zoonen, 1992).

The liberal feminists believe that technology, itself, is neutral; and, men and

women occupy different positions in relation to it. They argue that women are lagging

behind men in their understanding and use of technology because their potential is

11
distorted by gender stereotyping. Women are forced to take on particular sex roles, which

conceal their true nature and capabilities (Grint and Gill, 1995).

The last 15 years has seen the emergence of a new field of research – technology

as masculine culture -- that provides a critique of both the eco-feminist and liberal

approach. This theory has challenged the view that women’s alienation from technology

resulted from lack of access to training and employment, and a result of sex stereotyping.

It also rejects the view that women’s absence from the technological domain could be

understood by the fact that there is a difference in the manner in which men and women

relate to the world. Instead the proponents of this theory argue that women’s alienation

from technology is a result of the historical and cultural construction of technology as

masculine (Faulkner and Arnold, 1985; Cockburn, 1985, 1986, 1991, 1992; Wacjman,

1991). These theorists argue that technical competence constitutes an important part of

masculine identity, and conversely a particular idea of masculinity has become central to

the definition of technology.

The theories provided a background to the culture of computing in educational

institutions and software companies. They helped me assess the stereotypes about women

and computers. The study did not find any evidence that women were afraid of

technology or computers. In fact, most respondents had a positive estimation of their

work as it was ‘technical in nature.’ However, most respondents pointed out that they

were discriminated at some points in their careers because of negative stereotypes about

women and computing.

12
Justification of the Research

India provides a unique opportunity to analyze the utility of the technology and

skill training life cycle model, and the labor and job queue theory to understand the

position of women in the Indian software industry. India, a relative laggard among

developing nations, has witnessed tremendous growth in the software industry. The

country has become a major player in the global software industry as a key site for

software outsourcing. Despite these impressive achievements, the women in India are

lagging behind men. Although detailed data on the participation of women in the Indian

software industry are not currently available, preliminary evidence shows that women are

concentrated in low-paying and low-skilled jobs (Pande, 1997). This study is a much-

needed research required to fill the existing lacunae in the field of gender and technology

in the context of India.

Organization of the Dissertation

This chapter has introduced the study, giving a general background on the

theories of technology and skill training life cycle, and the labor and job queue theory. It

has also provided a brief overview of how these two theories can be combined to

examine the position of women in the Indian software industry. Chapter two provides a

comprehensive account of the reasons for India having emerged as a major contender in

the global software industry. It also provides a brief history of the Indian software

industry. It also discusses in detail the characteristics of the industry.

13
Chapter three reviews the literature that pertains to technology and skill training

life cycles. It also discusses the process and product life cycles as all four of these cycles

are interlinked. The chapter also reviews the three feminist theories – eco-feminism,

liberal feminism and technology as masculine culture -- that are used to explain the low

participation of women in the field of engineering. It then examines which theory best

applies in understanding the position of women in computing. Lastly, it reviews the

literature on the job and labor queue theory, and discusses how changes in the two queues

can lead to feminization of previously male dominated occupations.

Chapter four examines whether or not the technology and skill training life cycle

model can be utilized to understand the life cycle of computer technology. It also

examines the reasons that have led to changes in the job and labor queues in the software

industry in India, thereby allowing women the opportunity to join the labor force.

Chapter five presents the methodology that I followed for conducting the fieldwork. It

discusses the research site, research design, methods of data collection and analysis.

Chapter six provides the analysis of work experiences of female software professionals,

and it also analyzes the opinions of women software professional about female-

dominated occupations such as teaching. Chapter seven discusses the skill-training

experiences of female software professionals. Chapter eight concludes the dissertation by

inductively drawing propositions from data that can be tested in further studies. It also

provides policy implications of the study.

14
Chapter Two
The Indian Software industry

Introduction

Over the past several decades, much attention has been focused on

understanding the effects of information technology on social development in

capitalist societies. There has been a flood of books, articles and media coverage

heralding the ‘information age’ (Gates, 1995; Grenier and Metes, 1995), the ‘digital

age’ (Birt, 1996), or the ‘network society’ (Castells, 2000), among other variations.

Beginning with the development of the mainframe computer and analog

telecommunications as independent technologies, followed by their convergence in

satellite systems, telephone systems, and computer networks, innovations in

information technology have escalated at an increasingly rapid pace. Waves of new

technological innovations have been prompted by the development of the PC, the

development of intra-organizational networking of PCs (e.g., client/server systems),

and the development of the Internet and other infrastructure for the global exchange

of digital information.

These waves of innovations have spawned the development of a large number

of new industries in the global economy. In turn, the vast wealth created by these

new industries has stimulated the development of new geographic regions that serve

as centers for the creation, design, production, and marketing of various types of

information technology-related products and services. These regions have obviously

not been limited to such areas in the United States as Silicon Valley, Boston’s Route

15
128 region, or the Research Triangle, but have been extended globally to other

advanced industrial nations, and regions within developing nations as well. India is

one developing nation that has experienced rapid economic development as a result of

this process. The cities of Bangalore and Hyderabad have developed as important

regional production complexes in the global software industry. Other cities such as

Pune, New Delhi, Chennai, and Mumbai have also experienced significant software-

related growth.

The purpose of this chapter is to describe the development of the software

industry in India, identify factors that have influenced this process, and examine the

potential implications of this development for Indian society. The first section

outlines the early development of the software industry in India. The second section

describes important factors that have influenced the growth of the industry over the

past several decades. The third section describes the rapid growth that occurred in the

decade of the 1990s. Finally, several important implications of the development of

the software industry for India are discussed.

The Early Development of the Indian Software industry

The early development of India’s software industry is closely linked to the

adoption and use of mainframe computer hardware by Indian business, government,

and academic organizations. Until the mid 1960s, the vast majority of the software

used by these organizations was developed and provided by the multinational

companies (MNCs), e.g., IBM and ICL, who also manufactured and distributed the

16
mainframe hardware (Birt, 1996). As in other computer-using nations, the expansion

of mainframe computer use in India made it increasingly difficult for the

multinational computer manufacturers to provide the full range of applications

software required to make efficient use of their mainframe hardware (Kaplinsky,

1987). As a result, Indian workers began to fill this void by developing specialized

software applications for mainframe systems. As the mid-1970s arrived, business,

government and academic users of mainframe computers relied both on imported

software that was bundled with mainframe hardware by MNC manufacturers, and a

small cadre of Indian software developers who developed software applications for

these machines.

In 1974, Tata Consultancy Service (TCS) became the first Indian firm to

export software. This was done in return for permission to import hardware. TCS

entered into a joint venture with the U.S. hardware company, Burroughs, that was

entitled Tata-Burroughs Ltd. Burroughs held a 40 percent equity share in the new

company. Around this time, the data processing divisions of other large Indian

companies began marketing the software they had developed in-house (Heeks, 1996).

In 1978, IBM closed its operations in India in response to a mandate from the

Indian government that the firm reduce the percentage of ownership in its Indian

operations to 40 per cent. This provided a further boost to the Indian software

industry. The public sector company, Computer Maintenance Corporation (CMC),

became the primary service provider for IBM equipment and software (Lakha, 1994);

and, a number of the 1,200 ex-IBM employees began setting up small software

17
companies to provide services to local clients (Heeks, 1996). Thus, Indian firms

began to fill the void left by IBM.

At the onset of the 1980s, India’s nascent software industry was comprised of

a growing number of small and medium-sized firms that produced software

applications for mainframe hardware. However, the orientation of the industry began

to change as a result of the personal computing revolution underway in the United

States and other developed nations. In effort to expand the inflow of personal

computers (PCs) into India, the Indian government implemented the New Computer

Policy in 1984. In part, this policy initiative focused on eliminating or lowering

tariffs on imported computers and components, and encouraging investment in the

manufacture of PC hardware in India (Heeks, 1996).2 As a result, thousands of PCs

were imported into India. Moreover, several domestic companies were formed to

manufacture PCs and related hardware. Perhaps the most notable of the Indian PC

manufacturers was Wipro, Ltd., which later developed into one of the nation’s largest

software firms. The establishment and growth of personal computing transformed the

Indian software industry as demand for PC-based software applications prompted a

period of growth and development.

2
The New Computer Policy was passed in November 1984. It intended to
liberalize and drive down prices. As part of the policy, the import duty on ordinary
computers was halved and powerful computers were made duty free. The import
duty on components was also reduced. Certain computers could be imported by
actual users without the need of a government license. industrial licensing for
private firms was relaxed. Large monopoly companies, with 40 per cent equity,
were allowed into hardware production. Joint ventures with foreign firms were
encouraged. Finally, excise duty on computers was removed.
18
Factors Influencing the Contemporary Growth & Development of the Indian

Software industry

Since the mid 1980s, the Indian software industry has undergone extensive

growth, stimulated by the expansion of PC use, the growth of computer networking,

and the development of the Internet. This growth occurred at a particularly rapid

pace during the mid-to-late 1990s as MNCs increasingly outsourced software

development work from Indian firms and the Internet boom created rapid demand for

the development of Web-based software applications. In addition to these paths of

technological development, there were a number of factors that were critical in

facilitating this growth, leading to the development of India as a potential growth

center in the global software industry.

State Initiatives in Economic Policy

The Government of India has actively intervened in the development of the

Indian software industry through policy initiatives designed to promote exports,

provide infrastructure facilities, encourage foreign and domestic investment in the

industry, protect intellectual property, and establish the legality of electronic records

and digital information.

In 1986, the Policy on Computer Software Export, Software Development, and

Training was passed. This policy formally stated the Indian government’s

commitment to software development. A critical feature of this policy was that it

provided guidelines to promote software exports in effort that Indian software firms

19
be able to capture a larger share of the global software market (Lakha, 1994). In

addition, this policy created more liberal conditions for foreign MNCs to operate in

India. Foreign MNCs were granted the right to have 100 percent equity in export-

oriented projects. One result of this policy change, for example, was that the U.S.

firm Texas Instruments established a software subsidiary in India in 1986 in which it

owned 100 percent equity (Dossani and Kenney, 2002).

In 1991, the Indian government established the Software Technology Park

(STPs) scheme. One facet of this program was to create state-of-the-art computer

facilities equipped with satellite links and dedicated earth stations for the global

transmission of digital information. This infrastructure could then be used by private

firms (domestic and foreign) and public sector organizations through applying to

become certified member units and form a Software Technology Park. An important

goal of the STP scheme is to attract firms with the capacity to provide single point

contract services for the development and export of software (Ministry of Information

Technology, 2000; Software Technology Parks of India, 2002).3

In order to provide incentives, software firms that become certified member

units of an STP are exempted from the payment of income tax until 2010, allowed to

import telematic equipment without custom duties, provided access to dedicated data

communication links and training facilities, and allowed less ‘red tape’ in securing

government approval. In addition, 100 percent foreign equity in ownership of

software firms in an STP is permitted (Ministry of Information Technology, 2000;

3
Single point contract services allow all stages of a software project to be
completed in one location.
20
Software Technology Parks of India, 2002). The first STP was established in

Bangalore. The number of STPs in India increased throughout the 1990s (see table

2.1). By 2002, 20 STPs had been established (Software Technology Parks of India,

2002). The vast majority of these are located in the southern half of the country.

21
Table 2.1 Location of Software Technology Parks in India
City State Region
New Delhi Delhi North
Srinagar Jammu & North
Kashmir
Mohali Punjab North
Noida Uttar North
Pradesh
Jaipur Rajasthan North-west
Indore Madhya Pradesh Central
Gandhinagar Gujarat West
Calcutta West Bengal East
Bhubaneswar Orrisa East
Navi Mumbai Maharashtra West
Aurangabad Maharashtra West
Hyderabad Andhra Pradesh South
Vizag Andhra Pradesh South
Bangalore Karnataka South
Chennai Tamil Nadu South
Manipal Karnataka South
Pune Maharashtra West
Mysore Karnataka South
Thiruvananthapuram Kerala South
Guwahati Assam East
Source: Software Technology Parks of India (2002)

In addition to developing the STP scheme, the Indian government invested in

the development of a digital telecommunications infrastructure. During the 1990s,

the Nicent and Indonet computer networks were created to provide satellite

telecommunications links to government and private users (Lakha, 1994).


22
Additionally, in 1992, an international satellite gateway was set up exclusively for

software exports (Software Technology Parks of India, 2002).

In effort to provide greater protection for the intellectual property of software

firms and ameliorate the piracy of software, the Indian government made

amendments to the National Copyright Law in 1994. The Copyright (Amendment)

Act of 1994 provided a formal definition of what constitutes a computer program,

made it illegal to distribute copyrighted software without proper authorization, and

delimited penalties for the infringement of copyrighted software (NASSCOM, 2000).

In effort to expand the provision of Internet services, the Indian government

passed the Internet Service Provider Policy in 1998. This policy mandated that

Internet service providers would not have to pay licensing fees for an initial five year

period. After five years, a nominal licensing fee of one Rupee ($ 0.02) would be

charged. After obtaining national security clearance, Internet service providers were

granted permission to set up international gateways, and to provide Internet services

over authorized cable television systems. Permission was also granted to state and

national electricity boards, and the railways, to lease excess telecommunications

capacity for data transmission (Department of Telecommunications, Government of

India, 2000).

Finally, in an effort to increase public confidence and elevate the use of online

transactions, digital communications, and other forms of online exchange, the Indian

government passed the Information Technology Bill in 2000. Intended in part to curb

cyber crimes, the Information Technology Bill provides a legal framework so that

23
information is not denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability, solely on the

grounds that it is in the form of electronic records. The Bill mandates that unless

otherwise agreed, acceptance of a legal contract may be expressed by electronic

means of communication. (Ministry of Information Technology, 2000). Taken

together, the economic policy initiatives outlined above helped increase demand for

software, and provided incentives and conditions conducive to the growth of the

Indian software industry.

The Growth of Export Markets for Indian Software

As noted above, the initial export of Indian software occurred in the mid

1970s and concerned applications developed for mainframe hardware. Following

1981, the volume of Indian software exports began to steadily increase. This became

possible as Indian software developers developed a greater awareness of export

market opportunities, and the number of Indian workers with the skills to develop and

market software began to expand. As the domestic market for software stagnated in

the early 1980s, many small and medium-sized Indian software companies that had

been oriented toward the domestic market began to develop export markets for their

software (Heeks, 1996).

The export of Indian software gained further momentum with the PC

revolution, which elevated demand for new software applications. By 1985, revenue

from software exports had reached an estimated Rs. 30 crore ($6.6 million)

(NASSCOM, 2002). As noted above, the Policy on Computer Software Export,

24
Software Development and Training in 1986 provided further impetus with the

provision of official government guidelines for software exports (Lakha, 1994).

From the late 1980s onward, the emphasis on software exports by Indian firms

increased even more drastically. By the 1990s, many Indian firms that had initially

focused on producing hardware (e.g. Wipro, Ltd.), also started promoting the export

of software (Heeks, 1996).

The 1990s witnessed even further growth in the importance of software

exports to the Indian software industry. As noted above, Software Technology Parks

were created to provide single point contract services for the export of software.

Demand for software services was given a further impetus with the growing use of

‘outsourcing’ as a business strategy employed by MNCs and corporations around the

world (Heeks et al., 2000). With outsourcing, corporations sought to obtain software

services from independent software providers, rather than internally providing such

services. Outsourcing is typically done either to reduce overhead costs, realize cost

savings, and/or acquire software expertise, which a corporation does not have on-staff

(see Goe, 1991).

Facilitated by the STP infrastructure, Indian software firms became important

providers of software services outsourced by foreign corporations during the 1990s.

This led to a further expansion in export markets for software. For example, from

1991 to 1995, the value of Indian software exports increased from $164 million to

$485 million. The expanding stream of revenue from export markets has been critical

in financing the growth of the Indian software industry (NASSCOM, 2000).

25
Educational Infrastructure

The growth of the Indian software industry has also been facilitated by the

development of an educational infrastructure with the capacity to produce the supply

of skilled workers needed to staff the expansion of the industry. The national culture

of India places a strong emphasis on educational achievement in math, science, or

engineering as a path to economic success, particularly among males. Moreover,

English is used as the primary instructional language. The Indian government has

been highly influential in the development of this labor supply through the

establishment of computer science programs and educational institutions to offer

these programs. In 1974, the Indian government established the computer science M.

Tech. degree at national and regional engineering colleges. This was followed by the

establishment of the computer science B.Tech. degree in 1977. These were the first

computer science degrees offered in India (Heeks, 1996).

In 1978, based upon the recommendations of the Rajaraman Committee, the

two degrees were expanded to new colleges. In 1982, two new degrees were

established -- a vocational three-year Masters in Computer Application, and a

Diploma in Computer Education (DCE) for computer science teachers. In 1984, the

Indian government established a one-year Diploma in Computer Applications (DCA)

for BSc graduates. The same year, the Sampath Committee was formed to plan for

26
future actions on electronics-related training (see table 2.2). This set into motion

procedures that have subsequently encouraged a continuous expansion and

development of the computer science curriculum offered by Indian universities and

colleges (Heeks, 1996). With the establishment of these programs, the supply of

Indian workers with training in software development increased.

Table 2.2 Computer Science Degrees Established by Indian Government

Degree Date Established


Computer Science M. Tech 1974
Computer Science B. Tech 1977
Master’s in Computer Application 1982
Diploma in Computer Education 1982
Diploma in Computer Applications 1984
Source: Heeks (1996)

A key component of the Indian educational infrastructure are the six Indian

Institutes of Technology (IITs)4, widely considered as being among the premier

universities in the world for technical education. In the 1960s, the IITs were

established by the Indian government in conjunction with the U.S.-based Ford

Foundation. Today, IIT graduates head some of the largest MNCs in the global

economy, including McKinsey & Co, United Airlines, and Bell Laboratories. A

substantial number of successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists working in

4
The six engineering schools are located in Kharagpur, Kanpur, Mumbai, New
Delhi, Chennai and Guwahati.
27
Silicon Valley in the United States are IIT graduates (see Saxenian, 1999).5 During

the late 1990s, these successful Indian professionals provided an important source of

knowledge and resources for friends and family working to expand and develop the

Indian software industry (Dossani and Kenney, 2002). Within India, IIT graduates

have risen to head many of India’s largest corporations, including India’s first

multinational firm, Indian Tobacco Company, and HCL, one of the largest

information technology firms (Ray and Jetley, 2000).

Admission into an IIT is restricted by an extremely rigorous entrance

examination. Only about two percent of the approximate 200,000 students who take

the examination each year are selected for admission (Ray and Jetley, 2000). As a

result of rigorous standards, the IITs produce global class workers with the

knowledge and skills necessary to establish and lead firms in many industries,

including software.6

In addition to government initiatives, a private infrastructure for software-

related training began to develop in the 1990s as the Indian software industry

expanded. A substantial number of private software training institutes were formed

as independent ventures. However, a growing number of software firms have also

5
According to a study conducted by Saxenian (1999), 40 percent of the business
start-ups in Silicon Valley that were examined were founded (at least in part) by
Indian entrepreneurs. Of these, half were founded by IIT graduates.
6
In an article in Business Week, Kripalani et al. (1999) stated the following about IIT graduates:
“Wall Street firms rely on Institute grads to devise the complex algorithms behind their derivatives
strategies while big multinationals call on them to solve problems in new waysY. The rise of the
IITians, as they are known, is a telling example of how global capitalism works today. The best
companies draw on the best brains from around the world, and the result is a global class of worker:
the highly educated, intensely ambitious college grad who seeks out a challenging career, even if it is
thousand of miles from home. By rising to the top of Corporate America, these alumni lead all other
Asians in their ability to reach the upper-echelons of world-class companies.”
28
established authorized training centers to provide certified courses in their specific

software technology. These firms include IBM Global Services, Oracle, Microsoft,

Adobe, Cadence, Lotus and Sony. During 1997-98, the revenue for private institutes

providing software training was estimated at $225 million (INFAC, Mumbai, 1998).

The Indian government recently announced the establishment of Indian

Institutes of Information Technology, modeled after the IITs. Many Indian

engineering colleges have increased their emphasis on information technology, which

has included the formation of new programs in IT management. A number of for-

profit, private sector initiatives have also been recently announced to provide

graduate training in computer science. These include a joint venture between

Mahindra Group and British Telecom, and another joint venture between Sterling

Infotech and Carnegie Mellon University (Arora et al., 1999; Overland, 2000).

It has been estimated that at the end of the 1990s, India was annually

graduating about 155,000 engineers and another 200,000 diploma holders from

private software training institutes. Of these, approximately 60,000 were being

employed by the information technology sector (Arora, et al., 1999). Taken together,

the graduates of the elite IITs, the graduates of India’s numerous engineering colleges

and other institutes of higher education, and the growing number of workers being

trained at the private software training institutes, have provided an extensive labor

pool for staffing the expansion of the software industry.

29
Low Barriers to Entry

While not unique to India, the ‘barriers to entry’ in the software industry are

relatively low. As the volume of Indian software exports began to expand, a large

number of new firms were able to enter the industry as the initial investment required

to start a software firm was small. Little more than office space and communication

facilities were required (Arora et al., 1999). For example, the Chief Executive Officer

of Infosys Ltd., N. R. Narayan Murthy, founded the company in 1981 with six other

software writers and $1000 pooled from household money largely controlled by their

wives (Karp, 1999). It has been contended that computer science graduates only need

to equip themselves with a PC and a couple of contracts to be a part of the local

information economy. Add a modem, and they quickly become global ‘infopreneurs’

(Heeks, 1999). In the late 1990s, the formation of software startups was facilitated by

the evolution and expansion of the Indian venture capital sector which began to

provide an important source of financial capital (Dossani and Kenney, 2002).

The firms that were early entrants into the Indian software industry were of

two types. The first type included established firms seeking to diversify into software.

This included computer hardware firms such as HCL and Wipro, as well as firms

with large in-house data processing and system integration facilities such as Larsen

Turbo. Other firms included BFL, Sonata, Satyam and Birla Horizons that were part

of large and medium-sized business houses.7 The other type of entrant was new start-

7
As noted above, another key early firm was Computer Maintenance Corporation
(CMC) that focused on maintaining IBM computer systems after IBM left India.
CMC has grown to over 2000 employees. It has the ability to develop and
implement large and complex projects, especially for infrastructure systems.
30
ups. This included such firms as PCS, Datamatics, Infosys and Silverline

Technologies (Arora et al., 1999).

Low Wage Rates

A key factor that has contributed to the growth of the Indian software industry

through software outsourcing is that wage rates for Indian workers are relatively low

compared to rates for software workers in developed nations. In a study published in

1999, Arora et al. compared the salary ranges for Indian and U.S. workers across a

number of software-related occupations. At the highest level of earnings inequality,

the annual salaries of programmers in India were an estimated 7.1 per cent of the

salaries for programmers in the U.S. At the lowest level of earnings inequality, the

annual salaries of network administrators in India were an estimated 38.4% of the

salaries earned by their U.S. counterparts. Within the U.S., the highest salary ranges

in terms of absolute dollars were for database administrators and software developers.

The salaries of database administrators and software developers in India were

estimated to be 28.7% and 29.9% of their U.S. counterparts.8 These low wage rates,

in combination with the high levels of education, technical proficiency, and fluency in

English possessed by the Indian labor force, have served to elevate the Indian

software industry as a key source for outsourcing software services on a global basis.

8
These figures were computed by converting the salary ranges listed by Arora et al. (1999) at an
exchange rate of Rs 41.50/US$. The percentages were then calculated by taking the ratio of the
midpoint of the salary range for an occupation in India to that of the salary range for the same
occupation in the U.S.
31
The Structure and Prospects of the Software industry in India

As a result of the state initiatives in economic policy outlined above, the

growth of export markets and outsourcing of software services, the development of

the educational infrastructure, low barriers to entry, and low wage rates, the Indian

software industry experienced dramatic growth over the course of the 1990s. Precise

estimates of the number of firms comprising the Indian software industry are hard to

come by. However, available data suggests that the number of Indian software firms

expanded steadily over the 1990s. For example, the number of companies that are

members of NASSCOM increased from 94 in 1990-91, to 850 in 2000-01

(NASSCOM, 2002).

According to Arora et al. (1999), many firms entered the industry during, or

just before, the economic liberalization in 1991, and few have exited.9 The Indian

software industry is predominantly comprised of small and medium-sized firms.

Nearly one-fourth of software firms have sales of less than Rs 10 million (about $

25,000). However, the software market is dominated by a small tier of large firms

(Arora et al., 1999). For example, the top 25 firms in India with largest amounts of

software export revenue accounted for approximately 60 percent of software exports

in 2000-01 (NASSCOM, 2002).

According to Dataquest (a computer magazine published in India), Indian

software firms had captured 16 per cent of the global market in customized software

by 1996 (Dataquest, 1996). The majority of market leaders in the Indian software

9
The study was based on a survey of Indian software firms, field visits and
interviews with industry participants, observers and US-based clients.
32
industry specialize in producing only software, with a few notable exceptions such as

Wipro and Satyam.10 This is in direct contrast to the early entrants in the industry,

who had close links with computer hardware development (Heeks, 1996).

Revenues generated by the Indian software industry expanded rapidly in the

late 1990s. During 2000-2001, the value of the software industry in India was

estimated at $8.26 billion. In comparison, the estimated value of the industry was

only $150 million a decade earlier in 1990-1991 (NASSCOM, 2002). During 1995-

2000, the compound annual growth rate for software industry revenue was 62.3

percent for export markets and 41 percent for domestic markets. In the year 2000, 260

of the Fortune 1000 companies outsourced software development work to Indian

firms (NASSCOM, 2002).

There is evidence that a sizeable portion of the work that is outsourced to

Indian software firms is neither technologically advanced nor critical to the business

of the firms outsourcing the work. For example, in a study of U.S. firms that

outsource work to the Indian software industry, Arora et al. (1999) found that more

sophisticated work tasks such as requirement analysis and high-level design were

typically done in-house or outsourced to U.S. consultants. Most projects outsourced

to Indian firms were found to be technologically undemanding and small in terms of

the man-months required to complete them. However, this was not found to be true

in all cases. Smaller U.S. firms in some industries (e.g., medical software) were

found to rely heavily upon Indian software firms.

10
As noted above, Wipro also manufactures PCs, while Satyam provides Internet services across the
country.
33
Employment in the Indian software industry also expanded in the late 1990s

with the growth of software firms and software revenues. In 1996, it was estimated

that there were 140,000 software professionals in India. In 2000, the number of

software professionals was estimated at 410,000 (NASSCOM, 2002). Most of these

professionals have at least an undergraduate degree in engineering, mathematics, or

computer science, or a Masters in Computer Application degree, from an Indian

university or college. (Arora et al., 1999).

Available evidence suggests that there is a perceived difference in the

preferences of Indian software firms in hiring college graduates with training in these

fields, versus workers with degrees from the private software training institutes. In

the study conducted by Arora et al. (1999), few Indian software firms admitted to

hiring graduates from private training institutions. Firms believed that graduates of

the private software training institutes were not well suited for higher level tasks such

as software development. Rather, they were better suited for such tasks as providing

support and maintenance for back office operations, as well as lower-skilled services

such as medical transcription and claims processing for the insurance industry.11

Firms were also concerned that hiring graduates of the private training institutes

would send negative signals to customers about the quality of their software and

related services (Arora et al., 1999).

The Indian government and the software industry have actively attempted to

promote a reputation of quality by urging Indian software firms to acquire the

11
Although students at these centers spend about $ 700-750 to complete a
computer course, they tend to get jobs that pay around $ 20 a month (see Joseph,
2000).
34
International Standards Organization (ISO) certification (Banerjee and Duflo,

forthcoming). A substantial number of Indian software firms have been able to

achieve ISO 90001 quality certification. However, these firms have been rewarded

primarily through greater volume of sales rather than higher price/cost margins

(Arora and Asundi, 1999).12

As the Indian software industry has grown over the past several decades,

regional software complexes (Storper and Walker 1989; Castells and Hall 1994;

Storper 1997) have developed as firms have clustered in specific areas of the nation.

These regional complexes have developed in the western and southern regions of

India. The spatial pattern of these complexes broadly mirrors the spatial distribution

of Indian engineering colleges.13 The city of Bangalore in Karnataka has developed

into the largest regional software complex. There are several factors attributed to

why Bangalore has developed into the analog of the ‘Silicon Valley’ of India:

• Labor availability: Bangalore has an abundant supply of highly educated,

technically proficient labor that can be drawn from its research laboratories, educational

institutes and public sector firms.

• Quality of life: Bangalore has mild climate and offers an active social life. For

example, it is the center of the Beer Drinkers Association of Information Technology

(BAIT), which brings together senior IT managers to discuss strategies, on the

12
ISO90001 of the International Standards Organization is the most popular
quality certification in India. However, a few firms have opted for a quality
certification process developed specifically for software called CMM- Capability
Maturity Model (as cited in Arora and Asundi, 1999).
13
For example, data provided by Ramarao (1998), indicate that over two-thirds of the engineering
colleges in India are located in the Southern and Western regions which possess around three quarters
of the sanctioned capacity for the number of engineering students.
35
condition that they can drink a minimum of six mugs of beer in the evening.

• Infrastructure: Bangalore offers a steady supply of power and water unlike

other Indian cities, which frequently experience power outages. It is also possible to

get around the city in few minutes, whereas it might take hours at peak time to get

around in other cities such as Mumbai (Heeks, 1998). While Bangalore is the largest

regional software complex in India, other important complexes have developed in

Hyderabad, Pune, Chennai, and Mumbai.

Future of the Indian software industry

The Indian software industry is expected to experience tremendous growth over

the first decade of the twenty-first century. According to NASSCOM, revenue for the

software industry in India is projected to grow to $ 87 billion in 2008. Software

exports are projected to grow to $50 billion in 2008. Thus, despite the huge amount

of growth projected for software export revenues, the share of total software revenue

accounted for by exports is expected to fall from 64.7 per cent in 2000 to 57.5 percent

in 2008. Domestic demand for software is expected to become much more important

to the Indian software industry as a result of the growing use of information

technology by the Indian government, industry, and citizens.

NASSCOM (2000) also predicts the total number of PCs in India to increase

from 4.3 million in 2000 to 20 million in 2008. The number of Internet users are

projected to increase from 3.2 million in 2000 to 100 million in 2008; and, the

number of Internet subscribers is expected to increase from 0.77 million in 2000 to 35

36
million in 2008. It remains to be seen how true to course these projections will be.

Currently, India rates low in Internet penetration compared to other Asian nations. In

2001, it was estimated that India had 1.8 million Internet users, which represented

only 0.3 percent of the adult population (Pearl, 2001).

It remains to be seen how true to course these projections will be. Over the

past several years, India has undergone its own version of the proverbial bursting of

the Internet bubble as many dot.com start-ups have gone out of business (Mukherjee

et al., 2000). Moreover, the U.S. recession in 2001 has cut demand for software

outsourcing from Indian firms. While the short term prospects for growth may be

diminished, it does appear reasonable (given past trends and the factors promoting

growth described in this paper) that the Indian software industry will experience

further growth as economic conditions change and the global economy re-enters an

expansionary phase. In turn, this growth portends to have important implications for

Indian society.

The overall magnitude of the benefits and economic returns provided to India

by the software industry will be determined, in part, by whether or not Indian

software firms can develop into globally competitive firms capable of producing

software products and services that are competitive with those of successful firms in

developed nations. There is evidence to suggest that some Indian firms may be able

to develop this capability. Indian firms have enjoyed some success in developing

software packages and products for the domestic market such as accounting packages

and word processing packages in Indian languages (Arora et al., 1999).

37
While outsourcing projects typically involved low-skilled work, Indian

firms have begun to take on domestic projects requiring higher level skills. For

example, the software required for the screen-based trading system of the Bombay

Stock Exchange and the reservation system of the Indian railways was developed

by the Indian software firm CMC (Arora et al., 1999).

In addition to these developments, some Indian software firms are becoming

less reliant on export markets for revenue, particularly revenue derived from

outsourcing by U.S. firms. For example, the two largest Indian software firms, Wipro

and Infosys, have both reduced their level of dependence on their biggest client, US-

based General Electric (GE). In 2000, GE accounted for 5 percent of Wipro’s sales

compared to 19 percent in 1998. Infosys experienced a similar reduction several

years earlier (Pesta and Ramakrishnan, 2001).

Wipro and Infosys have become the third and fourth largest companies in the

entire Indian economy. Together, the two companies account for about 10 percent of

India’s software exports and have a total shareholder value of around $13 billion

(Karp, 1999). Infosys was the first Indian company to be listed on the U.S.

NASDAQ stock exchange (Business Week, 1999).

Indian software firms have enjoyed limited success in exporting software

packages and products they have created (in comparison to exporting services).

Several of the largest software firms have been able to export a few packages such as

compilers and financial programs. Wipro, Ltd. was able to export thousands of copies

of its Instaplan project management package, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This

38
was accomplished through forming an alliance with a U.S. marketing company to

help with program specification and design (Heeks, 1996). Beyond this, there are

currently few examples of Indian software packages becoming commercially

successful on a global basis.

A key factor that could facilitate the competitiveness of Indian software firms

is the ability of the nation to stem the outmigration of members of the best and

brightest of the Indian labor force, particularly to the U.S. (Sender, 2000). As noted

above, there are many successful professionals in Silicon Valley that are Indians

(Saxenian, 1999). The number of H1-B visas issued by the U.S. government to

Indians doubled between 1994 and 1996. Of the 65,000 H1-B visas issued in 1999,

20,000 were to Indians. As of October 2000, a total of 195,083 Indians have been

issued H1-B visas, and more than half have been issued green cards. Typical H1-B

applicants include architects, engineers, doctors, college teachers, programmers and

accountants. During 2000, the Clinton Administration approved S-2045 provisions

that increased the number of Indian visas to 195,000 annually for the next three years

(Ray, 2000). The Bush administration reduced the quota for H1B visas issued to

Indian citizens to 65,000 in 2003 (NASSCOM, 2003). While low wages undoubtedly

contribute to the outflow of highly educated workers from India, there is evidence

that some Indian software firms have begun to adopt U.S. style methods of

compensation in order to attract and retain workers. A case in point is Infosys. The

company has allotted 20 percent of its shares to employees through stock options,

creating 106 dollar-millionaires. Even a waiter in the Infosys conference room owns

39
shares of the company. In fact, 33 percent of Infosys 4,000 employees are rupee-

millionaires. The Infosys strategy has prompted other IT companies to begin to

provide stock options to their employees (Karp, 1999).

It is important not to overstate the importance or extent to which stock options are

being used by Indian software firms. The vast majority of Indians do not own or

trade stock. However, the diffusion of these compensation methods in the future to a

greater number of firms and industries could serve to change the Indian stratification

system. The professional and technical class of workers in the middle and upper-

middle segments of the income distribution would expand and have access to a larger

portion of the wealth being created by the Indian economy. In turn, this could

transform the nature of consumption, leading to a higher standard of living for these

segments of India’s working class.

In closing, the Indian software industry has experienced tremendous growth

over the past two decades and is on a developmental trajectory toward becoming an

important growth center in the global software industry. This growth has been

actively sought and promoted by the Indian government and the industry has become

a central lynchpin in the nation’s economy. The growth of the software industry has

the possibility of expanding the wealth of the nation and the standard of living

enjoyed by working class Indians. However, in order to accomplish these ends, it

appears necessary for the industry to further shift its focus away from low value-

added, outsourcing projects to high value-added software packages and services.

40
Chapter Three
Review of literature

Introduction

Many feminist theorists have tried to understand the reasons behind the low

participation of women in the field of engineering (Panteli et al., 1997). For example,

despite women comprising half of the population in the United States, they constitute less

than 10 percent of the engineering work force (NSF, 1994). In addition, there are glaring

earning inequalities among men and women computer specialists. For example, during

the 1980s, women computer professionals earned 72 percent as much as their male

coworkers (Donato and Roos, 1987).

The last 20 years have seen the development of an important new field of

research: feminist studies of technology. I will begin with analyzing the three main

theories on the relationship between gender and technology – eco-feminism, liberal

feminism and technology as masculine culture. In order to establish the linkages between

technology and skill training life cycles and labor and gender queues, I will review the

literature on product, process, technology and skill life cycles. It is important to examine

all four of these life cycles as they are interlinked. The next section of this chapter will

provide a comprehensive review of theory of labor and job queues, and the factors that

lead to the feminization of previously male dominated occupations.

Eco-feminism

Proponents of the eco-feminist view of gender and technology contend that

technology represents a way in which men try to dominate and control both nature and

women. They argue that technology in its present form is a result of men’s desire to

41
dominate and exploit nature in the same way as they dominate and exploit women (Van

Zoonen, 1992). `We believe that the desire of men to control women is closely associated

with the desire to control, rather than to cooperate with nature – a philosophy which lies

behind modern scientific thinking’ (Zmroczek, et al.; 1987:121). Eco-feminists believe

that women are closer and more in tune with nature. As Susan Griffin (1984: 175) puts it:

We [women] can read bodies with our hands, read the earth, find water,
trace gravity’s path. We know what grows and how to balance one thing
against another … and even if … they [men] have transformed this earth,
we say, the truth is, to this day, women still dream.

The eco-feminists believe that this closeness to nature is rooted in biology,

specifically women’s ability to give birth. They believe that women’s biology ‘has led to

specific way of knowing and experiencing the world, based on emotions, intuition and

spirituality. Eco-feminists call for celebration of female values which allegedly result

from this – pacifism and nurturance.’ (Grint and Gill, 1995: 5).

The main contribution of eco-feminism is that it highlights the patriarchal context

of the design and production of technology. It rightly points out that these social patterns

associated with technology are at odds of what is conceived of being feminine. However,

there are number of problems in the eco-feminist position with regard to the conception

of technology, gender and culture, which make it in the end neither an appealing nor an

empowering theory (Van Zoonen, 1992).

The essentialism of eco-feminism, its inability to deal with change, and its

reproduction of traditional ideas of femininity – albeit in a celebratory manner – have

been criticized. The critics point out that cross-cultural studies show that there is no

behavior that is inherently masculine or feminine; they are socially constructed categories

42
(Grint and Gill, 1995). It is also pointed out that the values eco-feminists ascribe to

women originate in women’s subordination. Particularly, it has been pointed out that eco-

feminism suffers from biological determinism. Lastly, eco-feminists conflate society and

technology. They assume that the patriarchal nature of technology can be read from the

patriarchal nature of society. This approach leaves no room for negotiation or resistance;

and, the only path open to feminists is that of rejection of technology and society (Van

Zonnen, 1992).

Liberal feminism

The liberal feminists believe that technology itself is neutral; and men and women

occupy different positions in relation to it. The liberal theorists argue that women are

lagging behind in their understanding and use of technology due to the roles they fulfill in

a sexist society. They point out that women and men are equal, sharing a basic humanity

and rationality. However, women’s potential is distorted by gender stereotyping.14

Women have been forced to take on particular sex roles (such as housewife and mother),

which have concealed their true nature and capabilities. Therefore, from this perspective

‘gender is conceived of as a system of representations, an ideology, which has been

overlaid on authentic, unspoiled and equal human beings.’ (Grint and Gill, 1995: 6). As

Van Zoonen (1992: 13) points out:

Liberal feminism assumes –with liberalism in general – that human beings


distinguish themselves in their capacity for rationality and the exercise of
rationality in public life. Humanity is located primarily in the mind, much
14
Related to this is the process of occupational sex-typing. It refers to the process by which certain
occupations are designated as being primarily male or female. Sex-typing has produced a virtual bifurcation
of the labor market into male and female sectors. Occupational sex-typing depresses women’s wages. This
can be explained by the overcrowding hypothesis. According to this argument, sex-typing forces women
into small and restricted number of occupations, while men have a wider range. This increases competition
amongst women for these small number of jobs and lowers wages (Cohn; 1985).

43
less in the body. Consequently, liberal feminists do not conceive of
physical differences between women and men as important, since both
sexes share their mental capacity for rationality. In essence then, men and
women are thought to be same in finding their fulfillment as human beings
in the exercise of rationality in public life. However, rationality should be
seen as a potential of human beings rather than a characteristic: a potential
that will develop differently according to different social experiences.
Given their relegation to the private sphere – a supposedly non-rational
realm – women have not had, and probably will not have, the opportunity
to develop their potential as human beings – assuming that this relegation
does not change.

The significance that liberal feminists accord to gender varies. On one hand, it is

believed, that its effects are profound as women’s identity is guided through the process

of socialization into their sense of who they are and what they can expect. Others argue

that its effects are superficial as gender is seen as a set of stereotypes (Walby, 1990). To

overcome the pernicious effects of gender stereotyping on women’s relationships to

technologies, liberal feminists have formulated programs that will help women catch up

with men – such as information campaign to help women take up non-traditional careers,

affirmative action policies, etc. (Grint and Gill, 1995). However, these programs have

enjoyed limited success.

The theoretical perspective of liberal feminism is thought to be severely flawed.

Firstly, the critics argue that technology is never subjected to critical analysis (Karpf,

1987). The critics argue that ‘in liberal feminism in general, the society women live in

and the circumstances women should adapt to are taken for granted, neglecting

dimensions of power and divisions of class, ethnicity, sexuality etc. In such reasoning,

technology is thought of as independent factor affecting social relations without being

affected by them’ (Van Zoonen, 1992: 14).

44
The flip side of liberal feminism’s view of technology as neutral is the tendency

to see women as the problem. They argue that women need to overcome the effect of sex

stereotyping and adjust themselves to technology. The critics argue that liberal feminists

are preoccupied with changes that women are supposed to make and have left

masculinity unchallenged. ‘The male is treated as the norm, and women are supposed to

adopt masculine ways of relating to technology’ (Grint and Gill, 1995:7).

It is argued that liberal feminism is clearly underdeveloped. On the one hand, the

proponents of this approach present gender both as being profoundly important, as it is

the primary division in society. On the other hand, some argue that it has no impact on

technologies and other social products. ‘Its idea of a true and unspoiled human nature

which lies untouched behind the distortion of gender is difficult to maintain’ (Grint and

Gill, 1995: 7). Therefore, by recognizing the importance of processes of sex-role

stereotyping and socialization, liberal feminism acknowledges the influence of society on

an individual’s identity and ‘seems just a step away from the idea that identity is not

predetermined but socially constructed’ (Van Zoonen, 1992: 15). However, it does not

distinguish between those aspects of identity that are supposed to be natural and authentic

and those that are socially constructed. Finally, the assertion of liberal feminism that

gender is the primary division in society has led it to neglect other dimensions of power

such as race and class, and it has a tendency to ignore differences between women (Grint

and Gill, 1995).

45
Technology as masculine culture

The last 15 years has seen the emergence of research that provides a critique of

both the eco-feminist and liberal approach. This theory challenged the view that women’s

alienation from technology resulted from lack of access to training and employment, and

a result of sex-role stereotyping. It also rejected the view that women’s absence from the

technological domain could be understood by the fact that there exists a difference in the

manner in which women and men relate to the world (Grint and Gill, 1995). Instead it

argued that women’s alienation from technology is a result of the historical and cultural

construction of technology as masculine (Faulkner and Arnold, 1985; Cockburn, 1985,

1986, 1991, 1992; Wacjman, 1991). 15

The adherents of this approach view technology and masculinity as being

symbolically intertwined. They argue that technical competence constitutes an important

part of masculine identity, and conversely, ‘a particular idea of masculinity has become

central to our very definition of technology’ (Grint and Gill, 1995: 8). For example,

Wacjman (1991: 19) argues,

As with science, the very language of technology, its symbolism, is


masculine. It is not simply a question of acquiring skills, because these
skills are embedded in a culture of masculinity that is largely coterminous
with the culture of technology. Both at school and in the workplace this
culture is not compatible with femininity. Therefore, to enter this world, to
learn its language, women have first to forsake their femininity.

From this perspective, technology is seen as more than simple artifacts or

hardware. Instead it is seen not as simply including things themselves, ‘but the physical

and mental know-how to make use of those things. Know-how is a resource that gives

15
Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1970) had argued that scientific knowledge, like
all other forms of knowledge, is affected at the most profound level by the society in which it is conducted.

46
those who possess it a degree of actual or potential power’ (Mckenzie and Wacjman,

1985: 22).

It is argued that one of the strengths of this theory is to locate the cultural

connection between masculinity and technology historically. This is a step in the right

direction away from the ahistoricism and essentialism of the other perspectives (Grint and

Gill; 1995). Women’s exclusion and alienation from technology is seen as a consequence

of changes, which occurred during the industrial revolution and the early development of

capitalism in the West. These theorists argue that prior to the industrial revolution,

women had more opportunities to acquire skills than they have in modern industrial

society. This was mainly because basic needs such as food, clothing, drinking and shelter

were taken care of within the family, and even manufacture was largely organized on a

domestic basis. Women assisted men at work within the household. However, all this

changed between the seventeenth and nineteenth century. This was mainly because of

the separation of private and public sphere, and move of manufacturing from the home to

factories (Wacjman, 1991). During the same period, ‘craft skills were challenged by the

introduction of machinery, and new skills emerged from the impetus of many inventions

and technical developments, which marked the industrial Revolution’ (Griffiths, 1985:

54).

Women were excluded from the new skills that developed during the industrial

Revolution. The previous male domination of fields such as carpentry and iron working

translated into male domination in new skills of patternmaker, iron founder, turner, fitter,

wheelwright, etc. These skills became male-dominated and are still so today. In this

manner, the industrial Revolution and the rise of factory-based manufacture led to a rigid

47
division of labor along gender lines, and women who became industrial laborers found

themselves segregated in low paying and least skilled jobs (Griffiths, 1985). Capitalism is

viewed essentially as a male creation, where men migrated into controlling roles, both as

capitalists and workers in the new industrial enterprise, and women filled the spaces that

they left behind (Faulkner and Arnold, 1985).

Women were excluded from technology at another level during this period.

During the industrial Revolution, there was a very close relationship between invention

and entrepreneurship. This meant that typically, an individual would have an idea for an

invention, and would either put up the capital to exploit the idea or seek a wealthy

partner16. However, due to the large amount of capital that was needed, women rarely

acted as entrepreneurs in their own right. It was only in 1882 that the Married Women’s

Property Act gave English women legal possession and control of property independently

of their husband. Additionally, women were denied access to education, and specifically

to the theoretical grounding in mathematics and mechanics upon which most innovations

were based. As Griffiths (1985: 56) point out:

As business activities expanded and were moved out of home, middle-


class men increasingly left their wives to a life of enforced leisure. This
change in social roles was reflected in the education given to daughters
and sons, girls learning accomplishments (such as fancy needlework and
piano-playing) whilst boys received an academic education.
Accomplishments, it need hardly be said, were not the most appropriate
foundation for participation in the world of inventor-entrepreneur.

These writers view the introduction of capitalism and the ensuing shifts in the

division of labor as playing a decisive role in the exclusion of women from knowledge

16
Some women were able to overcome hurdles and make important contributions. Mary Somerville was a
very distinguished mathematician, and Lady Lovelace is credited with the early ideas of computer
programming. It is also argued that in horticultural and agrarian societies women invented tools such as the
hoe, the scratch plow, grafting, hand pollination and early irrigation. However, the significance of these
inventions was never acknowledged (Wacjman, 1991).

48
and practices that constitute technology (Griffiths, 1985). Technologies, which emerged

during the industrial Revolution, or ‘capitalist technologies,’ were characterized as more

masculine than previous technologies. These theorists argue that the maleness of

technology effectively excluded women from new sources of invention. ‘In this way,

women were denied access to the new skills and knowledge created by the technological

dynamism of capitalism’ (Faulkner and Arnold, 1985: 48).

In other formulations, the development of capitalism is seen as consolidating,

rather than originating, power differences between the sexes and their relationship to

technology (Cockburn, 1985; McNeil, 1987). Cockburn17 (1986) argues that capital

applied new technology to class advantage thereby revolutionizing the forces of

production and wresting back control of production from skilled workers, increasing

productivity and maximizing profit. Along with this, men appropriated and sequestered

the technological sphere, extending their tenure over each new phase at the expense of

women. Therefore, she believed that as capitalism developed, already existing power

differences between men and women were given a new articulation in relation to class

differences, so that women lost as both women and workers.

Machinery offered men as a sex opportunities that were not open to


women. Already certain technologies of which men had exclusive tenure
had a special significance in production; now they took on an amplified
importance. Those who had traditionally worked the materials from which
the tools were made would now adapt their skills to the new machine age.
What capital needed in place of smiths and wrights were ‘mechanics’ and
‘engineers.’ It was only men, inevitably, who had the tradition, the
confidence and in may cases also the transferable skills to make the leap
(Cockburn, 1985: 29-30).

17
Cockburn carried out extensive field work to understand the impact of technology on gender. She studied
clothing, ware-house, radiography and computer programming firms. She carried out empirical research
between 1982 to 1984. The case studies included observation combined with interview and postal
questionnaires. She interviewed approximately 200 people, all involved in one way or another with the
technologies.

49
Cockburn further argues that machinery that was developed for the new factories was

designed by men, and reflected male power and capitalist domination. She points out that

male craft workers actively resisted the entry of women in new spheres of production,

denying them membership into unions that might have given them some bargaining

power (Cockburn, 1985). Women were denied the opportunity ‘to enter and defend jobs

deemed skilled’ (Faulkner and Arnold, 1985:8), and were forced into those jobs

considered unskilled and were accorded less pay.

It has been pointed out that there is a dialectical relationship between women and

skill such that women are concentrated in jobs that are deemed as unskilled. Even those

occupations in which women constitute a majority come to be seen as relatively less

skilled than those dominated by men. Skill is not some ‘objectively identifiable quantity,

but rather is an ideological category, one over which women were (and continue to be)

denied the rights of contestation. (Grint and Gill, 1995 :9).

Feminist researchers stress that the exclusion of women from technology is as

much a feature of contemporary society as it was in the earlier stages of capitalism. These

writers point out that technology18 still remains a black box to women. They argue that

women are concentrated in jobs that teach them nothing about the internal structures and

processes of the equipment on which they work. They argue that women’s relationship to

technology has become less interactive (Cockburn, 1985; Wacjman, 1992). ‘There

appears to be general law that women are found in jobs where they may press the button

18
Feminist writers have pointed out that the very definition of technology is biased. We tend to think of
technology in terms of industrial machinery and cars, ignoring other aspects of technology that affect our
everyday life. This emphasis on technologies dominated by men conspires to diminish the significance of
women’s technologies such as horticulture, cooking, childcare. This reproduces the stereotype of women as
being technologically ignorant and incapable (Wacjman, 1992).

50
to achieve normal output, but not in jobs that meddle with the works where they could be

called upon to intervene in the mechanism itself’ (Cockburn, 1986: 79).

Those who argue that technology is intimately related to masculine culture point

out that the effects of this are profound. They argue that technologies are not neutral

artifacts, which would be the same if they were produced by either men or women, but

rather objects that ‘bear the imprimatur of their social context’ (Karpf, 1987: 162) –

including the gender relations which constitute the context. Theorists have argued that

work on social shaping of technology has highlighted the manner in which military,

industrial, national and class interests shape the design of a vast number of technological

artifacts. Feminists point out that interests of a deeply gendered character determine the

way in which technologies are shaped.

The effect of male control of technology – and women’s exclusion and


alienation from it – is that the technologies produced for use by women
may be highly inappropriate to women’s needs and even pernicious (e.g.
the Pill), as well as embodying male ideologies of how women should
live. What passes for women’s control is mainly a mirage of the market –
the exercise of preference (within financial, geographical, cultural and
time constraints) and with the negative sanction of refusing to buy,
although as consumers women have also to some extent resisted and
modified technologies offered to them (Karpf, 1987: 159).

It is argued that technology is gendered (Cockburn, 1986, 1992; Wacjman, 1992).

Technological competence ‘correlates strongly with masculinity and incompetence with

femininity’ (Cockburn, 1986: 78). As a result of the culture of the context in which they

are produced technologies come to embody ‘patriarchal values’ (Wacjman, 1991: 17).

They can thus be seen as a sign of women’s oppression. Moreover, once constituted, they

can be the source of this oppression. It is this double aspect of technology – both sign and

source of oppression – Cockburn has termed this the circuit of technology (Cockburn,

51
1992). Therefore, technology ‘is constituted by, but also helps to constitute social

relations’ (Karpf, 1987: 12).

Another key concept used by those who see technology as ‘masculine culture’ is

identity. Masculinity, it is assumed, is partly constructed through the notion of technical

competence: ‘It is evident that men identify with technology and through their

identification with technology men form bonds with one another. Women rarely appear

in these stories, except as wives at home providing the backdrop against which the men

freely pursue their great projects’ (Wacjman, 1991: 141). In contrast, the belief that

women lack technical competence is not merely a sex-stereotype but has ‘indeed become

part of feminine gender identity’ (Wacjman, 1991: 155).

Identity is seen as an important mechanism through which the seemingly

association between masculinity and gender gets reproduced. In fact, it is pointed out that

‘doing gender’ creates differences between girls and boys, women and men, differences

that are not natural (West and Zimmerman, 1998). Cockburn (1992) further argues that

gender is ‘more of doing than being.’ From this perspective, Wacjman (1991) argues that

most of the programs designed to encourage female participation in technical fields failed

as women actively resisted technology because of the implications for their feminine

identity.

The theory of technology as masculine culture also has a number of problems and

tensions. Firstly, the essentialism that characterizes radical and eco-feminist writings has

proved difficult to eradicate, even from the works of those authors that disavow it. The

notion of fundamental difference between men’s and women’s values underlies much

work in this vein (Grint and Gill, 1995). For example, Faulkner and Arnold (1985) argue

52
that technology is alienating to women because the goals embodied in it are not

necessarily women’s goals. They point that military technology does not embody

women’s values. The proponents of this theory also do not subject to critical analysis the

notion of women’s goals. They adhere to the view point that women as a group share

specific interest and goals, which the eco-feminist dub as anti-militaristic and pacifist.

Even men as a group have self-interest, which are inimical to women’s interest (Grint and

Gill, 1995).

Secondly, it is pointed out that there is a tension regarding ideology. On the one

hand, the gendering of technology is said to have little to do with the prevalence of male

subjects (and the absence of female ones) in its design per se, but is attributed to a larger

structure such as masculinity and patriarchy. On the other hand, it is argued that actual

embodied males act in their own ‘male interests.’ This implies that the presence of

women would, in fact, make a difference – that women would design different

technologies. In the first version, a notion of ideology is implicitly being mobilized.

However, in the second version, men are depicted as acting in their own male interests.

Therefore the nature of the relationship between the ideology of masculinity and actual

human subjects is not addressed (Grint and Gill, 1995).

The critics also point out that there is a problem with the notion of patriarchy.

They point out that there is confusion about the extent to which men’s interests and the

interests of capital can be conflated. Ruling-class and working-class men are given an

identity of interests, and treated as a homogenous group whose technologies alienate and

oppress women (Grint and Gill, 1995).

53
Lastly, it is pointed out that there is a tendency towards a ‘kind of functionalism.’

The critics point out that ‘in stressing the performative aspects of the gender-technology

relation, the arguments become functionalist, explaining women’s and men’s relationship

to technology only in terms of its functions for gender identity’ (Grint and Gill, 1995:

16). For example, Cockburn has argued that women may resist technology because it is

stereotyped as masculine. Thus for a woman entering a technological field often means

forsaking femininity. According to the critics, the problem with this approach is that what

it means to act as a man or a woman within the context of technology is answered in

advance. This does not leave any place to change or challenge, and no theoretically

principled way to deal with situations in which women engage in behavior defined as

masculine and vice versa. The critics argue that the theory presents a bleak and

tautological picture of the gender-technology relation. ‘Male use of technology

communicates power and control….. The whole realm of technology and the

communication around it reinforces ideas of women’s powerlessness’ (Benston,

1992:41).

Women and computers

Now I will examine how computing is closely associated with masculine identity,

and how women use rejection of computers to assert something about themselves as

women. Feminists argue that computer technology is gendered (Turkle, 1984, 1988,

1990; Perry and Greber, 1990; Frissen, 1992; Kirkup, 1992). Firstly, the development of

computer technology is closely linked with wartime needs. It has been pointed out that

military represents ‘our cultures definition of masculinity in its clearest form’ (Perry and

54
Greber, 1990: 85). 19 The British colossus, completed in December 1943, was a decoding

machine used to unscramble German radio transmissions. Although it was unable to run

stored programs, it was similar to a modern computer in all other respects. In the United

States, the Ballistic Research Laboratory and Professors from the Moore School of

Engineering collaborated to design ENIAC, which assisted in the computation of ballistic

tables (Perry and Gerber, 1990).

It has been pointed out that the manner in which PCs were manufactured and

marketed ensured that computers were gendered (Haddon, 1988). Kirkup (1992) argues

that during the 1970s computers in the UK were marketed towards a male hobbyist,

especially an electronics hobbyist, as you could do little with it apart from learning about

computing. The next step was the development of computer games.

It was no accident that most of these early games were military


simulations of some kind; they reflected the major software research and
development of the time. Warfare simulation games are at least as old as
chess, but computer games are new in that they stimulate not only the
tactics but the sight and sound of a ‘kill.’ …. By the mid-1980s one of the
most important variables connected with ownership of a micro-computer
was having an 11-14 year old boy in the family (Kirkup, 1992: 272).

One of the most interesting theoretical positions on the gendering of computers is

that of Sherry Turkle (1984, 1990). She synthesizes feminist epistemology,20 object

19
In a related study, Edwards (1990) argues that the identification of military interests with masculine
gender definition has affected the production and use of computers. He points out that women comprise a
noticeable percentage of personnel in military and computer science. However, he suggests that women’s
presence in these bastions of masculinity might threaten masculinity as a political institution. He sees the
increasing ‘militarization of computers’ and the corresponding ‘computerization of military’ – each sector
reinforcing the other – as attempts to buttress the prevailing social order.
20
Her definition of epistemology is derived from the works of Piaget (1950). For Piaget, epistemologie
genetique was to eschew inquiry into the true nature of knowledge in favor of a comparative study of the
diverse nature of different kinds of knowledge. However, she points out that she differs from Piaget in an
important respect. ‘Where he saw diverse forms of knowledge in terms of stages to a finite end point of
formal reason, we see different approaches to knowledge as styles, each equally valid on its own terms’
(Turkle and Papert, 1990: 129).

55
relations theory,21 and cognitive science. She argues that the present social construction

of computer use encourages a particular style of thinking, which is not only repressive for

many women, but restricts the potential of computers. In her first major work, Turkle

(1984) studied the manner in which children and adults relate to computers and use them

as tools in their work. She identified two different styles to computer programming

among children learning to program in the LOGO language at a private school – hard

mastery that employs a linear style that depends on planning, advance conceptualization

and precise technical skills and soft mastery that relies on a less structured system of

gradual evolution, interaction and intuition.

Hard mastery is the imposition of will over the machine through the
implementation of the plan. A program is the instrument of premeditated
control. Getting the program to work is more like getting “to say one’s
piece” than allowing ideas to emerge in the give-and-take of
conversation…. [T]he goal is always getting the program to realize the
plan. Soft mastery is more interactive… Hard mastery is the mastery of
the planner, the engineer, soft mastery is the mastery of the artist: try this,
wait for a response, try something else, let the overall shape emerge from
an interaction with the medium. It is more like a conversation than a
monologue (Turkle, 1984: 104-105).

In her later works, she elaborated her categories, and now she distinguishes

between a formal analytic approach (rather than hard mastery) and bricolage (rather than

soft mastery). She has borrowed the term bricolage from French anthropologist Claude

Levi-Strauss. He had used the term to make a distinction between western science and the

science of ‘preliterate societies.’ The former is the science of the abstract, the latter is the

21
The object relations school has been particularly influential in the feminist conceptualizations of science.
This theory argues that mechanisms through which men and women model themselves and their relations
to the world are different. To acquire his masculine identity, the boy must reject and deny his former
dependencies, attachments and identifications with his mother (Wacjman, 1991). This theory was also used
by Keller (1983) to argue that men and women have different cognitive skills. She believed that as a male
distinguishes himself from his mother, he learns to distinguish between himself and the other, and subject
and object. She believes that as most scientists are men this male mind set about detachment and mastery
has been written into the norms and practices of modern science.

56
science of the concrete. She argues that like the bricoleur, the soft master ‘works with a

set of concrete elements’ (Turkle, 1988: 105). She believes that although the bricoleur

works with a closed set of materials, the results of combining elements can lead to

surprising and new results.

Bricoleurs are also like writers who do not use an outline but start with
one idea, associate to another, and find a connection with a third. In the
end, an essay ‘grown’ through a negotiation and association is not
necessarily any less elegant or easy to read than one filled in from an
outline, just as the final program produced by the bricoleur can be as
elegant and organized as one written with a top-down approach (Turkle
and Papert, 1990: 40).

Turkle argues that society has much to gain from valuing and encouraging

bricoleurs. Upon the basis of empirical research, Turkle argues that women (and some

men) are alienated from the computer because the computer culture imposes a particular

correct style of interaction, based on a formal top-down approach, in which problem is

dissected into separate parts and solved by designing sets of modular solutions (Turkle

and Papert, 1990).

Turkle made an important contribution to understand the alienation of women,

namely the different approach that women have towards programming. Empirical studies

have identified other reasons for low participation of women in the computing. It has

been found that women in engineering have to portray a professional image, which for an

engineer is male, to survive in engineering (Hacker, 1982; Carter and Kirkup, 1990;

Frissen, 1992; Valentile, 1992; Tijdens, 1997; Panteli et al., 1997, 1999). Although the

number of women in the computer industry has increased over the years, women continue

to be concentrated in lower levels of the IT industry. This concentration is seen as the

outcome of the male-dominated and masculine nature of computing work (Panteli et al.,

57
1997). Most women are not encouraged to study computing in school. As popular belief

would have it, especially among computer scientists and educational institutions that have

few female students, women are afraid of science and computers. Even the media

portrays an image of a computer scientist as ‘being someone else – different from us.’

This image helps reproduce a certain computer scientist -- the compulsive programmer or

the computer nerd -- which ensures a low recruitment of women in the profession

(Ramussen, 1992). Empirical research has shown, however, that a significant proportion

of women in the IT industry display similar aspirations as men. In fact, a significant

proportion of women rate responsibility, interest, and challenge at work even higher than

their male colleagues (Panteli et al., 1999). Family, culture, upbringing, and especially

the presence of an engineer father or brother play an important role in women choosing

engineering as a profession (Carter and Kirkup, 1990).

Males employ different strategies to try and maintain their control in engineering.

Most women engineers point out that at all levels of education, the people who make life

difficult for girls and women breaking into areas that are traditionally male preserves are

male students (Carter and Kirkup, 1990). Computer programmers form sub-cultures and

women are perceived as being on the outside (Hapnes and Sorensen, 1992). Hacker

(1982) showed that men studying engineering employed different strategies to ridicule

women in their field.

Women are not easily accepted as colleagues by men in the field. Many
engineering magazines are liberally sprinkled with advertisements
portraying women draped suggestively over one piece of equipment or
another. The Iowa Engineer, published at Iowa State University, came
complete with a centerfold ‘E-girl of the Month’ and a dirty joke page. At
scientific/engineering conventions, attractive women in bunny suits staff
merchandise booths; a tape measure on a scantily clad model illustrates
the benefits of the metric system. A university fair booth promotes

58
agricultural engineering with a leather mini-skirted mannequin, a sign on
its rear reading, ‘Ag Engineering, for a BROAD education’ (Hacker,
1982: 343).

Women in engineering face an uphill task to be accepted in a male dominated

profession. Linn (1987) provides an interesting example to explain men’s attitude

towards women, and understand gender and technology stereotypes. She says that in

explaining the absence of women in high-status jobs, one of her friends offered an

explanation: ‘Women don’t get offered jobs because they have babies’ (Linn, 1987: 127).

The career identities of women engineers involve managing cultural contradictions. In

managing motherhood and career expectations, some women even decide to remain child

free, thus resisting the cultural demands which associated femininity with motherhood

(Evetts, 1994). In order to fit in a male-dominated profession, women even have to limit

their options at work to allow themselves time at home (Carter and Kirkup, 1990).

Women are left out of informal groups that provide opportunities to negotiate a

rewarding career strategy in software (Tierney, 1992).

Life-Cycle Model Approach

Although the field of gender and technology has flourished in the last 20 years,

not many feminist theorists have analyzed the fact that even technologies have a life

cycle. In fact, the relationship between gender and technology is not static, but occurs

within the context of the dynamics of technological change. The life cycle of technology

has an effect on division of labor between sexes because the skill associated with any

technology changes as the technology progresses in its life cycle.

59
Analyses of the effects of technological change on skills and employment ‘are

usually cast in a static framework that involves a series of discrete jumps from one

technology to another – each with unique skills’ (Flynn, 1993: 9). In direct contrast, the

life cycle model of technological change argues in favor of sequential development paths

– from birth to growth, maturity and eventually stability or decline. Technology life

cycles – primarily technology and skill training life cycles – could logically account for

women’s inroads into previously male-dominated professions.

The Product Life Cycle Approach

The concepts of product, process and technology life cycles were formulated to

maximize results on product sales. The formulation of an S-shaped growth curve for

products and ideas is credited to French sociologist Gabriel Tarde in a work published in

1890. Dean (1950) coined the term `product life cycle’ to refer to phases of development

of an individual product. He argued that throughout the life cycle of a product continual

changes occur in promotional and price elasticity, and in costs of production and

distribution. These require adjustments in price policy (Dean 1950).

The most popular version of the product life cycle postulates that all successful

products pass through four recognizable phases. The first stage is market development --

a new product is introduced in the market before there is proved demand for it, and often

when it is still being technically improved (see Figure 3.1). The second stage is market

growth or takeoff stage. During this phase, demand accelerates and the total market

expands. The third stage is market maturity – demand levels off and replacement

60
demands become an increasing share of product sales. In the final stage – market decline

– sales drift downwards as product begins to lose consumer appeal (Levitt, 1965).

Figure 3.1: Product Life Cycles

I II III IV

Introduction Growth Maturity Stability/decline

Sales

Phase

Adapted from: Flynn, Patricia M. 1993. Technology Life Cycles and Human Resources.
Lanham: University Press of America.

The Process Life Cycle

Coincident with changes in the nature and demand of product are changes in the

production processes designed to produce them. With the growth of markets for a

product, the locus of change and innovation shifts from the product to production process

required to produce the product (Abernathy 1978). In effort to reduce costs, the

production process becomes standardized and routinized as a ‘best practice’ method is

61
identified and refined. Typically this involves further automation and the use of

specialized machinery and equipment, which has the consequence of making the product

changes expensive. Capital-intensive, mass-production techniques replace small-batch

production as products mature and as competitive advantage increasingly becomes a

function of cost minimization (Flynn, 1993: 11).

The Technology Life Cycle

Economists have pointed out that changes in technologies are often the stimulus

behind changes in the product and production process. In fact, technologies in industries

such as consumer electronics, automobiles, shoe manufacturing, mining equipment and

air conditioning have their own life cycles. A new technology, introduced slowly at first,

becomes more widely accepted as intense and heavily financed research and development

efforts lead to better performance. Eventually, it plateaus as it reaches its performance

limits. During the last stage, it competes with a new technology until the superior

technology wins and captures the market (Ford and Ryan, 1981; Shanklin and Ryans,

1984).

There is no one-to-one relationship among technologies and products and

production processes – several product and process life cycles may evolve with the

development of a single technology. In fact, technological evolution may herald changes

in products and in production processes. For example, as a technology matures,

uncertainty about its capabilities and limitations declines, and products and production

processes become more standardized. Rapid product innovation accompanies the earliest

62
phases of technology development, whereas process innovation peaks in the latter phases

as product design stabilizes (Flynn, 1993).

Other aspects of technological change can also affect the timing and shape of

process and product life cycles. Rapid technological change can increase uncertainty and

hinder the moves towards standardization of products. It can also shorten the effective

lives of products (Flynn, 1993).

The Skill-training Life cycle

Economists have pointed out that a skill-training life cycle evolves as the level of

demand and standardization of skills changes with the development of a technology. The

early stages of a technology, characterized by high degree of product innovation, are

relatively skill and labor intensive. However, as technologies mature, standardization and

increased use of equipment leads to a greater division of labor. More importantly it leads

to ‘the subdivision of multifaceted tasks into more narrowly defined assignments’ (Flynn,

1993:16).

As tasks become ‘deskilled,’ the workers’ skills, experience, and the


independent decisions making become less important. The tasks of semi-
skilled operatives, for example, often shift to monitoring and control of the
equipment. In addition, product assembly can be done by low-skilled and
unskilled workers who concentrate on a very limited number of specific
tasks. Once embodied in the work force, skills are transferred to the
production equipment (Flynn, 1993:16-17).

Thus the technology life cycle models suggests that the development and

introduction of new technology generates relatively high-skill professional and technical

needs. As a technology matures, some jobs such as repair and maintenance will continue

63
to be relatively highly-skilled. But mostly standardization and mass-production

techniques cause deskilling of a wide range of tasks. In its extreme form, deskilling can

lead to the elimination of certain tasks (Flynn, 1993).

The availability of skill training and the mix of institutional providers vary

depending upon the phase of the technology. When a technology is new, skill training is

usually provided on the job through various programs at the workplace. In the early phase

of technology, scientific and engineering personnel design and create experimental

products. Subsequently, they teach others the skills associated with the new technology

(Flynn, 1984).

As with products, increased demand and standardization of skills permits their

‘production’ on a large scale away from R&D sites. During this stage skill training is

shifted to schools as employers cannot capture the return on investments in general skills.

Another reason for the shifts is that as demand for skills grow, it is easier to formalize the

training process by providing it in schools. Types of training provided are diverse

depending upon the mission, funding arrangements and decision making process in

schools. Initially, training is offered by schools and colleges that are oriented towards

meeting the needs of the employers. But as the demands for the skill matures, training is

widely diffused among educational and training institutions. After a technology peaks

and demand for it declines, training becomes less available at the various educational and

training institutions. Once the technology becomes obsolete, the locus of skill training

may shift back to the firm as it seeks to fill its relatively short-term, skill replacement

needs (Flynn, 1993).

64
Labor Queues and Job Queues

It is a major contention of this study that as technology progresses, bringing about

changes in the skill-training life cycle, the labor and job queues associated with it change

providing an opportunity to women to fill positions that were previously beyond their

reach.

Ever since Lester Thurow (1969) put forward the labor market queue theory to

explain poverty amongst African-Americans in the United States, social scientists have

increasingly used the theory to explain occupational segregation. According to Thurow,

unemployment amongst African-Americans was higher because employers ranked them

lower in the labor queue than white Americans.

Employers choose their workers from as far up the queue as possible, but
as the demand for labor expands, the dividing line between employed and
unemployed shifts closer to the lower end. If a subgroup of the labor force
is concentrated at the lower end for either objective or subjective reasons,
the subgroup’s employment situation will be sensitive to the aggregate
level of demand for labor. If a subgroup is concentrated at the top of the
queue, changes in aggregate demand, unless they are very large, will have
little effect on its situation, and it will remain employed (Thurow, 1969:
48-49).

Although Thurow and his successors concentrated on labor queues, later theorists

argued that along with labor queue, there is a job queue that represents workers ranking

of jobs. Rotella (1981) and Strober (1984) and her colleagues recognized the importance

of job queues, although they did not designate them as such. Rotella examined the

feminization of clerical work, while Strober and her colleagues argued that society grants

men first choice of jobs and that men select the most attractive ones available. Therefore,

it is argued that the best jobs go to the most preferred workers, less attractive jobs go to

65
workers lower in the labor queue, bottom ranked workers may go jobless, and the worst

jobs remain unfilled (Thurow, 1972: 73).

Reskin and Roos (1990) reformulated the theory of labor and job queues to

explain women’s inroads into male occupations. They argued that occupational

composition is a result of a dual-queuing process: ‘labor queues order groups of workers

in terms of their attractiveness to employers, and job queues rank jobs in terms of their

attractiveness to workers’ (Reskin and Roos, 1990:29).

The two theorists posited that queues can be characterized by three structural

properties: the ordering of their elements (i.e. jobs and groups of workers), their shape

(the relative sizes of various elements – population subgroups in the labor queue and

occupations in the job queues), and the intensity of rankers’ preferences (whether or not

elements overlap). All queues are composed of ordered elements (occupations, jobs,

subgroups of workers), and their ordering dictates where each workers ends up. The

absolute and relative numbers of ‘elements in a queue determine its shape.’ The number

of prospective workers in each subgroup in a labor market determine the shape of the

labor queue. Similarly, the number of jobs at each level determine the shape of the job

queue. Panel A and B of Figure 3.2 show how the shapes of labor and job queues can

vary while the order remains constant. This variation influences the access of workers to

preferred occupations and each occupations chances of recruiting workers from each

subgroup. For example in a society with few preferred workers (A2) and few desirable

jobs (B2) preferred workers will monopolize the preferable jobs. However, if there is a

mismatch in the relative number of jobs and workers at the same level some workers will

get better or worse jobs as compared to others in their groups. For example, if preferred

66
jobs outnumber highly ranked workers, as characterized in A2 and B1, employers will fill

jobs with workers from lower in the labor queue than usual. In contrast, if the job queue

has more less preferred jobs (as in B2), only the highest ranked workers will get the

desirable jobs, and those ranked in the middle of the labor queue will have to settle for

less.

67
Panel A: Hypothetical labor queues ordered by sex for predominantly male and female-
typed jobs.
A1 A2
Men
Men

Women

Women

Panel B: Hypothetical job queues ordered by nonmanual-manual work for predominantly


nonmanual and predominantly manual occupation structure

B1 B2

Nonmanual Nonmanual

Manual

Manual

Figure 3.2: Variation in the shape of job and labor queue. Adapted from Reskin, Barbara
and Patricia Roos (1990). Job Queues, Gender Queues. Philadelphia: Temple University
Press.

68
The third property of queues is the intensity of raters’ preferences. For, some

employers group membership is of paramount importance in ordering the labor queue. If

group membership is of utmost importance, employers prefer employees from the

preferred group regardless of their qualification (Reskin and Roos, 1990). Figure 3.3

illustrates variations in the intensity of raters’ preference with respect to the sex of the

employee in three hypothetical labor queues. Panel A illustrates a situation where group

membership is of utmost importance – the space between the sexes shows that employers

prefer hiring lowest-ranked males as compared to the highest-ranked females. Panel B

depicts a weak aversion to females as employers show preference for moderately

qualified women over men with low qualifications, and highly qualified women over

moderately qualified men. Panel C illustrates an intermediate situation in which

employers prefer average men over average women, but will hire talented women over

mediocre men.

69
Panel A: Sex group membership is an overriding consideration to rankers.

Women Women Women Men Men Men


Low Moderate High Low Moderate High

Level of qualification
Panel B: Sex group membership is a minor consideration to
rankers.

Women Men Women Men Women Men


Low Low Moderate Moderate High High

Level of qualification

Panel C: Sex group membership is an intermediate consideration to


rankers

Women Women Men Women Men Men


Low Moderate Low High Moderate High

Level of qualification

Figure 3.3: Variation in the shape of job and labor queue. Adapted from
Reskin, Barbara and Patricia Roos (1990). Job Queues, Gender Queues.
Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

70
They further argued that ‘changes in size – of subgroup of workers or of various

occupations – that create a mismatch between the number of workers at some level in a

labor queue and the number of jobs in the corresponding level of the job queue can lead

occupations’ composition to change’ (Reskin and Roos 1990:34).

According to Reskin and Roos, four factors transform a labor queue into a gender

queue. First, sex labels that characterize jobs as “women’s” and “men’s” influence hiring

as it leads employers’ to prefer one sex over another. Second, employers’ difficulty in

identifying productive workers can make them resort to proxies such as educational

attainment, experience and group membership. Sex often influences hiring because of

stereotypical beliefs such as men are more productive in ‘male’ jobs as they are more

rational, stronger and more mechanically adept and so forth. Third, some employers do

not hire women as they worried about the negative responses of male workers. They

believe that this might affect productivity, raise labor cost by increasing turnover or men

might demand higher wages for working with women. Fourth, some employers are not

compelled to minimize wages. Therefore, they are not interested in hiring women

employees who could be paid less. Finally, some employers’ willingly accept higher

wages as the price for favoring women.

Reskin and Roos (1990) argue that men and women use similar criteria to rank

jobs in the job queue despite anecdotal claims that women place a premium on jobs that

are compatible with child care and men value blue-collar occupations to confirm their

masculinity. Most workers use criteria such as income, social standing, autonomy, job

security, congenial working conditions and chances of advancement to rank jobs in the

job queue.

71
Explaining Women’s Inroads Into Male Occupations

By definition, the feminization of an occupation results from the disproportionate

recruitment or retention of women workers. Disparate recruitment or retention of women

workers is a product of changes in the structural features of queues (how employers order

workers and how workers rank jobs, and the intensity of either group’s preference)

(Reskin and Roos, 1990). The first factor that results in the change of the shape of the job

queue is growth in occupations as was witnessed during the 1970s in service sector jobs

in the United States. In fact, the economic boom of the 1990s led to further increases in

service sector occupations. Although occupational growth can open male occupations to

women, it does so only after it has exhausted the supply of candidates from the preferred

groups (Oppenheimer, 1970). Growth is especially likely to prompt employers to resort

to women for jobs whose high entry requirements limit the number of qualified prospects.

In jobs that demand hard-to-acquire credentials, rapid growth is likely to exhaust the

supply of trained workers from the preferred group. For example, as the computer

industry expanded in the US, demand for system analysts skyrocketed, and

approximately 64,000 men and 31,000 women found work. This almost doubled

employment in this occupation (Reskin and Roos, 1990). Given women’s lower position

in the labor queue, they are among the ‘disadvantaged’ who benefit from shortages. As

Oppenheimer (1970: 99-100) points out:

The continuously growing demand in an industrializing society for


workers with a fairly high level of general education plus some special
skills has resulted in a chronic shortage of “middle quality” labor. … It is
the occupations in a poorer position to compete for such labor that tend to
utilize female labor. Once recourse has been made to female labor to
provide quality labor at a low price, employers tend to get used to

72
relatively well-educated workers who have been working for much less
than men who have received a comparable education. To substitute men to
any considerable extent would require either a rise in the price paid for
labor or a decline in the quality of labor, or both.

Additionally, the feminization of occupations occurs more rapidly in small and

high-turn over occupations. For example, the insurance industry, which employed fewer

than 100,000 people in 1970 and retained workers for about five years, flipped from

being overwhelmingly male to female dominated within a decade. In occupations in

which a policy-setting body controls the labor market, anticipated labor shortages often

stimulate actions to increase the pool of qualified workers. Increasing educational

participation may mean lowering admission standards or admitting groups formerly

excluded (Reskin and Roos, 1990).

According to Reskin and Roos, many occupations witnessed male worker

shortages in the 1970s not because they grew dramatically but because their rewards and

working conditions deteriorated. This leads to men to rerank the occupations in the job

queue. Often technological change that furthers the division of labor, deskills work, or

alters working conditions, can set the stage for occupational decline in the job queue.

This can lead to a reranking of occupations in the job queue by men. Jobs change when

employers transform the technology of production -- for example, from handwork to

operating a machine. Even reorganization of work -- for example, dividing the

production of an item into several stages, so that workers make pieces of a product rather

than the whole item – sets the stage for occupational decline (Oppenheimer, 1970). The

computer industry provides an example of technological change altering an occupation’s

sex composition.

73
Early computers had no operating systems, so programmers performed
craftlike tasks: for example, rewiring circuits each time they ran a
program. The development of early operating systems, allowed
programmers to store common tasks in machine memory, freeing them for
higher- level projects. However, as the computer workforce grew,
managers sought to contain labor costs by separating from programming
two new occupations: system analysts, who designed information systems;
and coders, who translated programs into computer codes and entered
data. The industry constructed the latter jobs as clerical and filled them
predominantly with women. System analysis was initially men’s work;
only in the 1970s did it begin to feminize (Reskin and Roos, 1990: 43).

Other factors that led to reranking of occupations in the job queues were declining

earnings and benefits, declining job security, occupational prestige and mobility

opportunities at work and changes in occupations’ skill mix (Reskin and Roos, 1990).

Another factor that leads to women making inroads into previously male

occupations is employers’ reranking of the sexes in the labor queues. According to the

queuing perspective, there are four reasons employers might have for advancing women

ahead of men: (1) they believed that productivity or cost differentials between the sexes

have changed; (2) their aversion towards women or preference for men declines or

disappears; (3) the cost for indulging preference increases; (4) new rankers entered the

profession who did not support male preference (Reskin and Roos, 1990).

Throughout this century, the shape of the labor queue has steadily changed as

women’s share in the labor force has increased. Employers’ increasing need for women

for desirable jobs helped stimulate their growing availability. Most women learned about

the existence of previously male-dominated jobs while doing sex-typical jobs. For some

feminizing occupations, women learned of opportunities and mastered the jobs’

responsibilities as consumers or homemakers. For example, women tried their hand at

real estate sales after selling or buying a home. Colleges and universities played an

74
important role as they exposed women to opportunities in customarily male professions.

They also provided a pathway into a few nonprofessional occupations as well. However,

the key question is still unanswered: Why do women prefer jobs that men have rejected

in favor of greener pastures? The answer is simple: because they are preferable to most

female occupations because they have higher wages and have better working conditions.

However, the relative advantages drop slightly once these occupations are identified as

those employing disproportionate number of women (Reskin and Roos, 1990).

75
Chapter Four
Theoretical Perspective

Introduction

Many feminist theorists have argued that technological change leads to deskilling

of jobs thus providing women an opportunity to fill these positions. For example, Reskin

and Roos (1994) argued that technological change sets the stage for occupational decline

leading to a reranking of occupations in job queues, thus facilitating entry of women in

previously male-dominated occupations. However, most theorists have not discussed

whether the life cycle of technology has an effect on the employment of women. This

chapter primarily aims to examine whether we can utilize the life cycle model approach,

specifically, the technology and skill-training life cycles, to throw additional light on

labor and job queue theory as given by Reskin and Roos. I will synthesize the two

approaches to develop an analytical framework for understanding the concentration of

women in lower positions in the occupational hierarchy in the software industry in India.

Initial evidence from the Indian software industry will be used to examine whether the

theoretical framework may be appropriate for this task. Additional evidence will be

provided on the labor force participation of women in the United States in the last century

to corroborate the theoretical arguments.

As pointed out earlier, economists have argued that most technologies in

industries such as consumer electronics, automobiles, shoe manufacturing, etc., have their

own life cycles of development. Once introduced, a technology is improved over time,

and eventually replaced by a new innovation. Along with these technology cycles, a skill-

training life cycle evolves as the level of demand and standardization of skills changes. In

76
the case of computer technology, there is a definite pattern to technology and skill-

training life cycles. The early stages of computer technology, characterized by a high

degree of product innovation, were relatively skill and labor intensive. However, as

computer technology matured, standardization led to a greater division of labor or

deskilling. But some task continued to be relatively highly skilled.

I shall examine the stage of the life cycle of computers22 in which deskilling

occurred, thereby allowing for changes in the labor and job queues to facilitate the entry

of women in previously male dominated occupations. The first section of the chapter

discusses the different stages of the computer technology life cycle and the involvement

of women programmers in each stage. The second section discusses how technological

change has led to changes in the job and labor queues. The third section of the chapter

discusses how we can synthesize the two approaches. The last section discusses the

implications of my research.

The Life Cycle of Computers and Women Programmers

The development of the computer is intricately linked with wartime needs. The

first modern computer in the United States, ENIAC, was a World War II project funded

largely by the military. The technology was developed primarily to calculate ballistic

missile trajectories. The British colossus, completed in December 1943, was a single-

purpose decoding machine designed to unscramble German radio transmissions (Perry

and Gerber, 1990).

22
Computer technology does not represent a single technology; it consists of a set of technologies. I am
primarily interested in the life cycle of Personal Computers, and programming languages.

77
ENIAC was a giant collection of registers and was very clumsy, making

operation highly painstaking. According to the skill-training life cycle, the early stages of

a technology are relatively skill and labor intensive. This is true for computer technology

as highly skilled professionals were required to operate these computers because

instructions could not be stored in the machine’s memory. As Kraft (1977: 23) points out:

By modern standards they were exceedingly clumsy devices, composed


largely of electromechanical or electrical switches regulated by vacuum
tubes. Quantities to be calculated by the machines were fed into them on
paper or magnetic tape or punched cards. Changes in the operating
“program” were made by adjusting a given combination of switches and
physically rearranging special self-contained circuits called “plug boards.”
… The entire cumbersome process was known as “external programming”
since the instructions could be changed only by physically moving the
plug boards, control switches, etc. … In addition, a given set of
instructions – the program – had to be absolutely complete before the
machine could do so much as add a column of numbers. ... Finally – and
this was the most tedious and time-consuming of all – the program
contained on tape or cards had to be entered in a form the machine was
able to accept and act on.

It is argued that the availability of skill training depends upon the phase of

technology. In the early phases of a technology, skill training is usually provided on the

job. During the early stage of computer technology, hardware manufacturers provided in-

house training to software workers. For example, IBM trained its staff to provide in-

house training courses to employees of companies using IBM machines. In fact, the

training acquired at ‘IBM school’ became so prestigious during the 1950s and early

1960s that government and private employers used the lure of IBM training to recruit

potential employees in what was a tight seller’s market in programming (Kraft, 1977).

During this stage, some women, who were college graduates with backgrounds in

math or science, were hired to do hand calculations and develop software to predict

78
ballistic trajectories. Women were hired because it was assumed that programming would

be like clerical work. However, when employers realized that programming was more

complex, involving abstract logic, mathematics and knowledge of electrical circuitry,

they started hiring more men and the sex composition of programming shifted (Kraft,

1977). In fact, some theorists argue that women have often been involved in the early

stages of a technical field, but once the field has stabilized and demonstrated its

intellectual and financial potential, women are excluded (Perry and Gerber, 1990).

A turning point in computer technology was the introduction of the stored

program computers during the 1940s. This stage marks a break from the earlier

technology. It was at this stage the new and superior technology competed with the old

one and replaced it (See Figure 4.1).

79
Figure 4.1: Computer Hardware Technology Life Cycle Model

--- stored computing technology


limit of
first generation
computer
technology

product &
process
performance
Technology B

Technology A
Onset of effort

1940 1970 Years

Adapted from: Richard N. Foster, “A Call for Vision in Managing Technology,”


McKinsey Quarterly Summer, 1982, McKinsey and Company Inc

The introduction of stored computers made using computers less painstaking and

time-consuming because the instructions, which operated the machine, were stored in the

machine’s memory along with the data to be processed. A hardware control unit within

the main body of the computer decoded the stored instructions for the computer to

process the data (Kraft, 1977; Greenbaum, 1979; Donato, 1994). As Ceruzzi (1998: 84)

points out:

With a stored-program computer, a sequence of instructions that would be


needed more than once could be stored on a tape. When a particular
problem required that sequence, the computer could read that tape, store
the sequence in memory, and insert the sequence into the proper place(s)
in the program. By building up a library of sequences covering the most
frequently used operations of a computer, a programmer could write a

80
sophisticated and complex program without constant recourse to the
binary codes that directed the machine.

However, during this stage, all programming was not simplified. For some

programmers, the job became more elaborate and tedious. The stored computer made

programming simpler for some programmers only because ‘others now had to do a much

more involved and time-consuming kind of programming’ (Kraft, 1977; Greenbaum,

1979; Donato, 1994).

It has been pointed out that technological change may herald changes in products

and production processes. The introduction of stored computers led to change in the

process life cycle with the use of transistors in the production process. Transistors offered

the benefits of speed, reduced size, and enhanced reliability – important advantages that

finally led to the acceptance of the computers in the business community. Finally,

vacuum-tube, or first-generation computers, were replaced by solid-state transistor

hardware, or second generation computers, in 1958 (Donato, 1994). Further business

expansion, and the success of early models of computers during the 1960s, forced the

computer industry to manufacture cheaper and more reliable components for computers.

Thus, the introduction of new technology also led to the manufacture of new and better

products. The IBM computer company introduced the integrated circuit component

family of machines that added further speed and reliability to computers (Greenbaum,

1979).

The introduction of stored-program computers made the task of training software

workers comparatively easier. The training of computer professionals in the US has been

institutionalized in a three-tiered system: research universities or schools of management,

81
four-year engineering colleges and two-year junior institutions. The junior colleges

prepare the least skilled programmers and primarily provide vocational training. Four-

year colleges train more skilled programmers, teaching students to design and write

programs rather than simply code. Elite institutes train highly skilled programmers, such

as system analysts, who design entire computer systems or languages (Kraft, 1977;

Donato, 1994).

Another turning point in the technology life cycle of computers was the advent of

the microprocessor in 1971, which provided the capacity to put a computer on a chip. The

introduction of the PC23 was particularly important for changes in software technology as

it was followed by a step towards user-friendly computing software in 1983. We can

characterize the introduction of the PC a result of the product life cycles that began with

second-generation computers. It does not mark a break from the earlier technology as it is

also based on the concept of stored programs.

The microprocessor was used as the basis of design for Apple I and then of Apple

II, the first commercially successful microcomputer, or PC, in 1976. Apple Computers,

which was started by two college dropouts in the garage of their parent’s home, had sales

of $ 583 million by 1982, ‘ushering the age of diffusion of computer power.’ Following

the success of Apple, IBM introduced its own version of the microcomputer, the Personal

Computer, in 1981 (Castells, 2000). The operating system used in IBM PCs in the early

1980s was called Disk Operating System or DOS. It was a mainstream operating system

until it was replaced by Windows 95, which is also based on DOS (Ceruzzi, 1998).

23
After the introduction of the Apple microcomputer, IBM launched its own version of microcomputer that
was given the name—Personal Computer (PC).

82
Apple’s Macintosh, which was launched in 1984, was the first computer that

introduced icon-based user-interface technology. A fundamental condition for the

diffusion of microcomputers was fulfilled with the development of new software adapted

to their operation. The role of Microsoft, the computer software giant, is very important

as it was the company that provided user-friendly software that was preloaded for free by

PC vendors (Castells, 2000).

During the 1970s and 1980s, employment in computer occupations witnessed a

rapid growth in the United States. Women moved into computer occupations in large

numbers (Donato and Roos, 1987). However, the growth did not benefit women as they

were concentrated in lower paying jobs. For example, in 1981, the earnings of a female

programmer averaged 70 percent of male programmers (Kraft and Dubnoff, 1983).

Although women benefited monetarily from working in computer occupations relative to

other women, their status was not comparable to similarly employed men.

In the last two decades of the twentieth century, increasing chip power resulted in

dramatic enhancement of microcomputing power.

Since the mid-1980s, microcomputers cannot be conceived of in isolation:


they perform in networks, with increasing mobility, on the basis of
portable computers. This extraordinary versatility, and the capacity to add
memory and processing capacity by sharing computing power in an
electronic network, decisively shifted the computer age in the 1990s from
centralized data storage and processing to networked, interactive computer
power-sharing. Not only did the whole technological system change, but
its social and organizational interactions as well (Castells, 2000).

Along with changes in computer hardware, software technology has also

undergone tremendous change. The first computer programming language, Short Code,

was developed in the late 1940s. It belongs to the category of machine/first-generation

83
languages as it involved putting a sequence of binary numbers directly through simple

toggle switches. The whole process was tedious and time consuming (The History of

Programming Languages, 2002)

Unlike first-generation/ machine languages, the second-generation languages also

called assembly languages use easy identifiable operation codes called Mnemonics,

instead of numeric operation codes. Mnemonics are abbreviated versions of English

words that are easy to recognize (Computer Languages, 2002). The third-generation

languages that were developed in the 1950s made coding less time consuming and less

expensive (Backus, 1981). A defining feature of these languages was that programmers

did not have to familiarize themselves with the internal architecture of the computer. The

earliest third-generation language, FORmula TRANslating system or FORTRAN, was

introduced in 1957. The language was designed at IBM for scientific computing. Since

FORTRAN did not suit business needs of that time, COBOL or Common Business

Oriented Language was developed in 1959. COBOL became one of the first languages to

be standardized to a point where the same program could run on different computers from

different vendors and produce the same results (Ceruzzi, 1998).

Another computer language that combined the features of COBOL, FORTRAN

and ALGOL24, was Pascal.25 Developed in 1968, Pascal was used for artificial

intelligence research (Wirth, 1996). Pascal as a programming language lost its popularity

with the growth of C. Dennis Ritchie developed C in 1972 at Bell Labs. C was developed

for UNIX systems. It is very similar to Pascal, but uses pointers26 extensively. It is fast
24
Developed mainly in Europe between 1958 and 1960, ALGOL, was proposed as a more rigorous
alternative to FORTRAN. It was intended from the start to be independent of any particular hardware
configuration, unlike the original FORTRAN (Ceruzzi, 1998).
25
Developer of Pascal, named the language after French philosopher and mathematician, who in 1642
designed one of the first gadgets that might be truly called a digital calculator (Wirth, 1996)
26
Pointers are addresses to the memory location of the computer, and they make programming simpler.

84
and powerful, but it is hard to read. During the 1970s and 1980s, a new programming

method, known as object oriented programming or OOPS27 was developed. Using OOPs

technology, C++ was developed in 1983. It was designed to organize the raw power of C

using OOPs. It is most often used in simulations such as games. With the growing

popularity of interactive TV in the early 1990s, Sun Microsystems started developing a

new portable language. However, after interactive TV failed, they shifted their focus to

the World Wide Web, and developed a new language for the Internet that came to be

known as Java. It is truly a ‘language of tomorrow’ as it object-oriented and implements

advanced techniques such as true probability of code and garbage collection. While

the earlier languages such FORTRAN and COBOL were intended for only one purpose,

the languages of today such as C, C++ and Java can be used for any purpose (The

History of Programming Languages, 2002).

The growth of PCs allowed for the deskilling of programming languages as it led

to the widespread diffusion of computers, and provided the opportunity for more persons

to learn computer languages. The role of hobbyists is very important in the diffusion of

computers as they made conscious efforts to popularize computers among other amateurs

(Ceruzzi, 1998). During the 1990s, fourth-generation languages were developed that were

user-friendly and enabled less technical people to become involved in the programming

process. These are also termed non-procedural languages because the programmer says

what needs to be done rather than how to do it (Computer Languages, 2002). Most of

these programming languages are easy to learn and use. For example, the development of

27
Objects are pieces of data that can be packaged and manipulated by the programmer.

85
computer languages such as Visual Basic (VB)28 and HTML29, or packages like

Dreamweaver and Flash, now allow novice programmers to develop software programs

or Web pages. They require few specialized skills as they employ a graphic user interface

(GUI) that is easy to understand, use, and master. Since they are easy to master, they are

ranked low in the software occupational hierarchy, both by workers and employers.

The life-cycle of programming languages can be illustrated similarly like

computer hardware technology life-cycle model (see figure 4.2). The second-

generation/assembly languages replaced first-generation/machine languages during the

late 1940s because of superior technology. They in turn were replaced by third-

generation languages as they made coding less time consuming. During the 1990s,

fourth-generation languages were developed; however, they have not replaced third-

generation languages. Instead the introduction of fourth-generation languages has led to

division of programming languages into two categories – whereas third-generation

languages such as Java, C and C++ are used to do ‘high-end’ programming, fourth-

generation languages are used to do low-skilled programming.

28
Visual Basic is based on the BASIC language developed in 1964. BASIC is a very limited language and
was designed for non-computer science people. VB is used to create simple interfaces to other Microsoft
products such as Excel and Access without a lot of code, although it is possible to create full applications
with it.
29
The CERN team, which is credited with the invention of the Internet, created a format for hypertext
documents that they named hypertext markup language (HTML). It lets computers adapt their specific
languages within this shared format.

86
Figure 4.2: Programming Languages Life-Cycle Model

Onset of
Product Limit of Fourth generation
& Second generation
Process Onset of third
Perform- Limit of generation
ance First
generation

1940 1945 1955 1990 Time

Fig 4.2: Data Derived from Ceruzzi (1998) and Computer Languages (2002)

The Feminization of Software Programming in India

The introduction of non-procedural languages has allowed for the feminization of

occupations that employ these technologies in India. It is a major contention of this study

that the feminization of software occupations has taken place only in certain jobs,

specifically those that employ languages that are developed in the later stage of the

software technology life cycle.

Traditionally, computer programmers have been divided into three categories:

coders, programmers and system analysts. As the most skilled programmers, system

analysts design whole complex data processing systems rather than parts of a larger

87
program like programmers. Programmers solve data-processing problems through

designing, writing and debugging. Coders are like clerical workers and they translate

programs into computer languages (Kraft, 1977). For this study, I will use this

classification, and also determine what kind of programming languages are used by each

group.

Women comprise about 12 per cent of the total workforce in the Indian software

industry (NASSCOM, 2000). It is believed that the disparate recruitment or retention of

female workers is a product of changes in the structural features of job and labor queues

(how employers order workers and how workers rank jobs, and the intensity of either

group’s preference). I will begin by examining the factors that have led to changes in the

job queue.

It was pointed out earlier that the first factor that produces change in a job queue

is job growth in an occupation. Job growth supports feminization as it can lead to a

shortfall of male workers. In fact, evidence from the United States has shown that sex

segregation across industries dropped the most during the 1970s in the fastest growing

occupations (Fields and Wolf, 1989). The Indian software industry witnessed

phenomenal growth during the last decade. During 2000-2001, the value of the software

industry in India was estimated at $8.26 billion. In comparison, the estimated value of

the industry was only $150 million a decade earlier (1990). In addition, employment in

the Indian software industry also expanded in the late 1990s with the growth of software

firms and software revenues. In 1996, it was estimated that there were 140,000 software

professionals in India. By 2000, the number of software professionals had jumped to

410,000 (NASSCOM, 2002).

88
It must be kept in mind that not all the jobs that have been created are ranked high

in the occupational hierarchy. In fact, there is evidence that a sizeable portion of the work

that is outsourced to Indian software firms is neither technologically advanced nor critical

to the business of the firms outsourcing the work (Arora et al., 1999). As pointed out

earlier, after the study was conducted, there is evidence that shows that increasingly

skilled work is being outsourced to India (Kirplain et al, 2003). The argument that I am

putting forward is that the growth of the Indian software industry has led to the

feminization of certain types of jobs within the software industry. This is attributable to a

shortfall of male workers for these jobs because they prefer occupations that are ranked

higher in the occupational hierarchy as they are more skilled.

It has been further argued that in high-turnover occupations, shortages can quickly

assume crisis proportions. As a result, the feminization of such occupations occurs more

rapidly (Reskin and Roos, 1990). In India, labor turnover in the software industry was

very high due to the outmigration of members of the best and brightest of the Indian labor

force, particularly to the U.S at the time of the study. As noted in a previous chapter,

Indian workers, particularly IIT graduates, are among the most successful professionals

in Silicon Valley (Saxenian, 1999). Most managers of Indian software firms see attrition

as a major problem as there have been many cases where the entire project team left after

the first six months (Arora et al., 1999). This has led to a shortage of male labor, thereby

providing the possibility for women to fill the positions abandoned by men. However,

there has been a change in this trend in the last two years as the number of engineers

migrating from India to the US has dropped substantially due to the cut in work visas

issued to Indian citizens.

89
Reskin and Roos (1990) found that most occupations that experienced a shortage

of male workers during the 1970s not only witnessed a dramatic growth of jobs, but also

a deterioration of rewards and working conditions relative to other occupations for which

male workers qualified. As a result they became less attractive to male workers. These

jobs are not ranked high in the occupational hierarchy as they are not highly skilled and

have low occupational prestige. As was pointed out earlier, it is easy to master and use

these technologies. Thus it is likely that employers cannot attract and retain enough

qualified male workers in these occupations. Therefore, they turn to women to fill these

positions.

Factors that have likely made jobs unattractive to men is that the entry of large

number of women in these occupations has led to a drop in salaries, status, and working

conditions. As Moghadam (1997: 14) warns:

As computer-based skills become more commonplace, and as the need for


more workers to use them in a greater variety of ways grows, more women
will be again recruited. But this will be at a lower wage because these will
be no longer considered specialist skills, merely something that women
can do.

It should also be pointed out that women’s entry into the labor force in jobs

related to information technology, albeit in entry level secretarial positions or

manufacturing jobs, brings many women disposable income for the first time, raises their

status in their own eyes, and frequently leads to their desire for more training and

upgrading of skills (Hafkin and Taggart, 2001). Initial evidence from India suggests that

women working in the software industry have high self-esteem as they have more income

in low skilled occupations in the software industry than they did in other feminized

occupations such as teaching (Yee, 2000).

90
Another factor that leads to women making inroads into previously male

occupation is employers’ reranking of sexes in the labor queues. Cultural change due to

modernization, information from the mass media, and increasing labor force participation

of women in India have led to a change in mindset of employers. Many no longer believe

that there are productivity or cost differentials between the sexes.

Now I will examine the changes in the labor queue that have led to women

making inroads into certain occupations within the software industry. Colleges and

universities have played an important role in changing the composition of the labor

queue. The growth of private, for- profit institutes has provided women an opportunity to

acquire skills that could enable their entry into the software industry. The training sector

in India has grown along with the software industry. In 1997-98, revenues were estimated

at Rs 8.56 billion (about $226 million), up from Rs 6.6 billion for the previous year. As

pointed out earlier, women comprise about 50 per cent of total student enrollment in

private institutes. However, the general perception is that graduates of these institutes are

not suited for software development. The increase in certification courses such as

Microsoft Certified Software Engineer/Developer (MCSE/D), Certified Novell Engineer

(CNE), and IBM Net Professional certification has also enlarged the pool of workers. In

fact, many graduates of private institutes acquire these certifications in order to place

them more favorably in the job market (Arora et al., 1999).

Synthesis

The history of computer programming clearly illustrates that computer technology

has a technology and skill-training life cycle. According to the technology life cycle, a

91
technology, once introduced, is improved overtime, and eventually replaced by a new

innovation. This is true for computers as they were introduced in the late 1940s to satisfy

wartime needs. These early/first-generation computers were clumsy machines, composed

largely of electromechanical or electrical switches regulated by vacuum tubes, making

operations highly painstaking. A turning point in computer technology was the

introduction of the stored program/second-generation computers. This made using

computers less painstaking and time-consuming because the instructions, which operated

the machine, were stored in the machine’s memory along with the data to be processed.

This technology was further improved with the use of transistors during the 1950s.

Transistors offered the benefits of speed, reduced size and enhanced reliability (Kraft,

1977, Greenbaum, 1979, Donato, 1994). And, finally, the introduction of

microprocessors in the 1970s, which provided the capacity to put a computer on a chip,

led to the introduction of the PC (Castells, 2000).

Along with changes in hardware, computer software technology has also

undergone tremendous change. As computer software technology has matured there has

been a trend towards job fragmentation and deskilling (Kraft, 1977). During the early

stages, skills associated with software programming were highly specialized. For

example, the machine/first-generation languages involved inputting a sequence of binary

numbers directly through simple toggle switches. The whole process was highly skilled,

tedious and time consuming. The second-generation languages also called assembly

languages made coding easier as they used easy identifiable codes called Mnemonics,

instead of numeric operation codes. Mnemonics are abbreviated versions of English

words that are easy to recognize. The third generation languages made coding less time

92
consuming because the coders did not have to familiarize themselves with the internal

architecture of the computer. Finally, coding was deskilled with the introduction of

fourth-generation languages during the 1990s that are user-friendly enabling less

technical people to become involved in the programming process (Computer Languages,

2002).

Along with the technology life cycle, a skill-training life cycle has also evolved.

According to the skill-training life cycle, the early stages of a technology are relatively

skill and labor intensive. The early stages of computer technology, characterized by a

high degree of product innovation, were relatively skill and labor intensive. In the early

phases of a technology, skill training is usually provided on the job. During the early

stage of computer technology, hardware manufacturers provided in-house training to

software workers. During the latter stages of technology, training is institutionalized. For

example, training of computer professionals in the US has been institutionalized in a

three-tiered system: research universities or schools of management, four-year

engineering colleges and two-year junior institutions.

It can be seen clearly that progress in the computer technology life cycle led to

developments, such as introduction of PCs that were important for popularization of

computers. As all aspects of social life were computerized, there was an explosion in

demand for computer professionals. The expansion of jobs in computer-related

occupations led to changes in job queues as demand for computer professionals

outstripped the availability of qualified men. Women benefited from labor shortages as

employers had to resort to hiring women, thus providing them opportunities that were

earlier out of their reach.

93
Most importantly, technological changes remitting from the life cycle of computer

technology furthered the division of labor, deskilled jobs, or altered working conditions,

leading to a reranking of occupations in the job queue by men, thus allowing women to

fill these previously male-dominated occupations (Oppenheimer, 1970). As pointed out

earlier, coding was deskilled with the introduction of fourth-generation languages during

the 1990s that are user-friendly, enabling less technically proficient people to become

involved in the programming process. In addition, due to technological changes, new jobs

such as Webmaster and content manager have been created that are ranked low in

occupational hierarchy within the software industry. The technological changes led to

changes in the structure of job queues as men reranked these jobs lower in the job queue.

This provided opportunities to women that were previously beyond their reach. However,

we must remember that deskilling reinforces the gendered division of labor as women

continue to be concentrated in occupations employing ‘point and click’ technologies that

are ranked lower in the occupational hierarchy within the software industry (Hafkin and

Taggart, 2001).

The progress of the computer skill-training life cycle led to changes in the labor

queue. In the early stages of computer technology, training was provided in-house. For

example, IBM provided training in computing to a limited number of employees. This

training was out of reach of most women as opportunities were limited. In addition, the

masculine character of computing kept them from pursuing a formal degree in computer

engineering. Therefore, the process of acquiring training was gendered, and programming

occupations became sex-typed. It was only during the later stages of computer

technology that educational institutions started providing training in computer

94
technology. With the institutionalization of the training process, women were able to

receive such training and jobs in programming occupations. Thus, education provided a

pathway into computer-related occupations. The proliferation of computer courses in

community colleges and for-profit private institutes has allowed women to enter the

software industry without acquiring a formal computer engineering degree. However, this

has contributed to occupational segregation in the software industry as women are able to

acquire only those jobs that are ranked low in the occupational hierarchy.

Research Questions

Following from the discussion, this research will examine the work experiences of

women employed in the Indian software industry. It will primarily focus on the content of

the work of female software professionals, the technology involved in their work, and

the process by which they have developed work skills. Additionally, the jobs of women

software professionals will be compared to jobs in other sectors of the economy,

specifically teaching, which is a female-dominated occupation in India. It is expected that

theories of job and labor queues and theories of technology and skill-training life cycle

will provide insight into what one should expect to find in relation to these issues.

The research will be guided by the three general research questions:

Indian women who are involved in programming jobs that involve the use of technology
in the early stages of technology life cycle will have different work experiences than
women employed in programming jobs that involve the use of technology in the later
stages of its life cycle.

In the preceding discussion, it was pointed out that as a technology progresses in

its life cycle, it becomes deskilled. Economists have pointed out that a skill-training life

95
cycle evolves as the level of demand and standardization of skills changes with the

development of technology. The early stages of a technology are relatively skill and labor

intensive. However, as a technology matures, standardization leads to a greater division

of labor. Most importantly, it leads to deskilling (Flynn, 1993). Therefore, it is my

argument that women working in programming jobs that involve the use of technology in

its later stages will have different work experiences as their work is deskilled compared

with women employed in programming jobs that use technology in its early stages.

Indian women who are involved in programming jobs that involve the use of technology
in the early stages of technology life cycle will have different skill-training experiences
than women employed in programming jobs in the later stages of the technology life
cycle.

As pointed out earlier, the availability of skill training and mix of institutional

providers vary depending upon the phase of technology. In the early stages, skill training

is usually provided on the job through various programs at the workplace. Increased

demand and standardization of skills permits their production on a large scale away from

R&D sites. During this stage skill training is shifted to schools. Thus, skill training is

easily available when a technology is in its later stage (Flynn, 1993). For example, many

private-for-profit institutes in India provide training in fourth-generation or procedural

languages. Women comprise about 50 percent of the student population in these

institutes. Thus women will have different educational or skill training experiences

depending upon the technology, they use at work.

Indian women who are employed in the software industry will perceive their jobs as more
desirable compared to other opportunities such as teaching available to them.

Reskin and Roos have argued that women prefer jobs that men have rejected

96
because they are preferable to most female occupations because they have higher wages

and better working conditions. However, the relative advantages drop slightly once these

occupations are identified as those employing disproportionate number of women

(Reskin and Roos, 1990).

Implications of the research

The proposed research will uncover the complexities of social composition, and

life experiences of women software professionals in India. Specifically, the significance

of the study may be delineated at various levels. Firstly, the study will be part of the

much-needed empirical research in the area of gender, science, and technology in the

Indian context. Secondly, a closer scrutiny of national level data shows the absence of

data on women software professionals. This will be a modest attempt to collect some

base line data. Thirdly, the study will provide a new perspective in theory on women and

technology as it links the concept of technology and skill-training life cycle to that of job

queues and gender queues. Fourthly, the research will be a genuine attempt to bridge the

gaps and transverse the contemporary feminist field by charting a passage between India

and the USA. Lastly, the suggestions made by the study in terms of changes in cultural

and educational structure can be used by policy makers to increase participation of

women in engineering.

97
Chapter Five
Methodology

The study required field research as the growth of the software industry in India is

a recent phenomenon, and quantitative data are not easily available. The Indian

government presently does not have detailed data on women software professionals. The

first section of the chapter discusses the research site, the second section deals with the

research design that was employed for the study, and the last section deals with the

interview procedures employed and the questions that this study will answer.

Research site

The research site for the project was the city of New Delhi. It is the capital of

India, and the second largest city in the country (See Figure 5.1). I chose New Delhi as

the research site for the study as it is the only city in north India with a sizeable number

of software companies. Another reason for selecting New Delhi was that it is my

hometown. I am familiar with the city, its culture, language and people. Most

importantly, I chose to conduct research in New Delhi since I worked in the city as a

journalist for five years, I had contacts that were very helpful for me in identifying and

selecting respondents for participation.

As in the case of Bangalore, the reasons for New Delhi becoming a major software

center in the northern part of the country are:

• Labor availability: Skilled labor is easily available as there are many prestigious

engineering colleges in and around New Delhi, especially IIT, Delhi, Delhi

College of Engineering and Delhi Institute of Technology. In addition the city

98
has many polytechnic colleges and for-profit institutes that provide training in

software technologies.

• Style of Life: Most software professionals hailing from north India like to settle in

New Delhi because it is the largest city in the region. There are many

opportunities for career enhancement available in the city.

• Infrastructure: The government has set up a Software Technology Parks in New

Delhi and Noida, a suburb of New Delhi. The parks contains facilities such as

direct satellite uplinks to facilitate the export of software. Many software

companies have also started development centers in Gurgaon, another suburb of

New Delhi because of availability of good communication facilities.

99
Figure 5.1: Location of New Delhi in India

100
101
102
Female software professionals from eleven companies were interviewed for the

study. The companies included two telecom giant multinational companies (MNCs), one

Indian software company writing software for the telecom sector, one of the largest

Indian computer companies specializing in hardware, one software company writing

software for newspapers, and five Internet companies – out of which two provided online

infotainment, one was an online job site, one made web pages for clients and one was an

online newspaper.

The companies varied in size with the smallest having only seven employees and

the largest 2000. At the time of the interviews, only four companies had laid off

employees on the account of the recession that was ongoing at the time when the

interviews were conducted (See Table 5.1 for further details). Only five companies

provided additional job training to the employees. The courses offered ranged from

training on new technologies to teaching yoga (See Table 5.1 for further details).

103
Table 5.1: Profile of Companies30

Name of Area Number of Training Employees


company employees Provided terminated
Softpro American 1600 Yes Yes

telecom MNC
Systec German 1500 No No

telecom MNC
Jobs.com Internet 175 Yes No
TCM Hardware 2000 No No
MOI Infotainment 50 No No
Digital.com Infotainment 60 Yes Yes
Hungama Internet 20 No Yes
Plus software Software 50 No Yes
Projectpro Web service 60 No No
Second Inc Internet 7 Yes No
Netplus Software 250 Yes Yes

30
The names of the companies have been changed to maintain confidentiality.

104
Research Design

The study employed qualitative methodology involving field research with in-

depth, personal interviews of female workers in the software industry. The study was

conducted over a period of three months in the summer of 2002. Women software

professionals using programming languages developed at both the early and later stages

of the technology life cycle were interviewed. The study revealed that systems analysts

and programmers used programming languages that were developed at the early stages

of the software technology life cycle. On the other hand, the coders and non-technical

professionals used programming languages that were developed at the later stages of the

software technology life cycle. The non-technical professionals were also interviewed as

they shed additional light on the use of technologies and work environment in the

software companies.

Respondent Selection

I employed snowball sampling for identifying women software professionals. In

total, 27 female software professionals were interviewed for the study. This included ten

professionals using early stage programming languages – one systems analyst, eight

programmers and one non-technical professional. Seventeen software women

professionals were using late stage programming language -- thirteen coders and four

non-technical professionals (See Tables 5.2 and 5.3 for further details). Thus a

correlation was found between the life cycle of programming languages and occupational

classification. Out of the five non-technical professionals, one was a senior level manager

in a German MNC, one was the Chief Executive Office (CEO) of an Internet company

105
and, three were correspondents. However, all of them were technically proficient and

used programming languages at work.

Systems analysts, programmers and coders were found to be using different

programming languages that were developed at different stages of the software

technology life-cycle. As hypothesized, both systems analysts and programmers

employed programming languages (example, C and C++) that were developed in the

early stages of the software technology life cycle. The operating systems used for

programming included Linux, Unix, Solaris, Windows NT etc.

Some women programmers used highly specialized software along with early

stage programming languages. For example, programmers, working with the German

multinational company, used highly specialized software, System Application and

Product (SAP), for office automation. Monica, who worked as a programmer, explained:

After getting the standard SAP product…. We study our customers needs,
…we try to map them. If you have already got the processes in SAP then
we do not change it. If it is not there then we try and change it to some
extent. For changing we use Apache language. It is a combination of SQL
and C language.”

Most coders used programming languages that were developed in the later stages

of the technology life cycle such as HTML or packages such as Dreamweaver, Adobe

Photoshop, Fireworks and Illustrator. In addition, some women coders were found to use

web technologies such as ASP, which have also been developed in the later stages of the

technology life cycle. Women coders responsible for maintaining websites that had huge

databases, in addition to using languages such as HTML, used database management

tools such as Oracle, FoxPro and SQL.

106
Only one Internet company had developed an in-house content management

system that made the work of coders even simpler as the data automatically transferred to

the web page. The company consequently had to hire less staff. They had only two

people working in technical capacity. Explaining the work, Sudha, a coder, said: “The

software directly does File Transfer Protocol, whenever news come, it is put into the

software, and it automatically goes to the web page.”

107
Table 5.2: Stages of Programming Languages for Systems Analysts & Programmers

Name Occupational Language Stage of language in

classification technology life cycle


Sarita Systems Analyst C, C++ Early (third

generation)
Indrani Programmer C, C++, Rational Early (third

Rose generation)
Monica Programmer SAP Early (third

generation)
Niharika Programmer C Early (third

generation)
Shirina Programmer C++ Early (third

generation)
Ritika Programmer C, C++ Early (third

generation)
Nishita Programmer BASIC Early (second

generation)
Milli Programmer C, C++ Early (third

generation)
Shalini Programmer SAP Early (third

generation)

Table 5.3: Stages of Programming Languages for Coders & Non-Technical Professionals

Name Occupational Language Stage of language in

classification technology life cycle


Maitrayee Coder Visual Basic, Late (fourth

Inhouse lang Generation)

108
Mekhla Coder Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator Late (fourth

Generation)
Meena Coder HTML, ASP Late (fourth

Generation)
Krishna Coder Photoshop, Illustrator, Late (fourth

Dreamweaver, Frontpage, Generation)

HTML, Fireworks
Malika Coder Visual Basic Late (fourth

Generation)
Neela Coder HTML Late (fourth

Generation)
Sheela Coder Dreamweaver, Photoshop Late (fourth

Generation)
Ayesha Coder Photoshop, Quark, Freehand Late (fourth

Generation)
Preeya Coder Lotus Notes Late (fourth

Generation)

109
Table 5.3: Stages of Programming Languages (contd.)

Name Occupational Language Stage of language in

classification technology life cycle


Sudha Coder ASP, Photoshop, Frontpage Late (fourth

Generation)
Divya Coder Photoshop, Illustrator, HTML, Late (fourth

Dreamweaver, Flash Generation)


Swati Coder Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Late (fourth

HTML Generation)
Manjula Coder ,Dreamweaver, HTML Late (fourth

Generation)
Sucharu Non-tech SAP Early (third

Generation)
Aprajita Non-tech Quark Express, Dreamweaver, Late (fourth

Mindtree, Photoshop Generation)


Aishwarya Non-tech Frontpage, Netscape Late (fourth

Generation)
Vishaka Non-tech Dreamweaver, Vineyard Late (fourth

Generation)
Yukti Non-tech Vineyard, Dreamweaver, Late (fourth

Photoshop Generation)

Names and email addresses of female software professionals were compiled from

personal contacts. Emails were then sent to these professionals telling them about the

study and seeking their permission to include them in the research. I also asked them if

they would be able to give me references of some of their friends working in the software

industry. All of them replied promptly, and agreed to be part of the study.

110
After reaching New Delhi, I called these respondents, and set up a time and place

for the interviews. I took references of other respondents from these female professionals,

and interviewed them.

Data Collection

Semi-structured and personal interviews were used as the primary method for data

collection. I used a semi-structured interview schedule with open-ended questions (see

Appendix A), but also pursued other topics as they arose. For example, when I

interviewed the non-technical professionals, I asked them why and how did they learn

programming languages, although it was not part of their work profile.

The use of semi-structured interviews ensured that all essential topics were covered in

the interview, and that specific data were obtained. Moreover, the use of open-ended

questions allowed women software professionals to freely express their views on the

research questions and provide deeper insights into their life experiences. In addition, I

followed the approach of active interviewing that provided an environment conducive to

the production of the range and complexity of meanings that shall address the relevant

issues. As Holstein and Gubrium (1995: 17) point out:

Active interviewers ….. converse with their respondents in such a way


that alternate considerations are brought into play. They may suggest
orientations to, and linkages between, diverse aspects of respondents’
experience, adumbrating – even inviting – interpretations that make use of
particular resources, connections and outlooks. Interviewers may explore
incompletely articulated aspects of experience, encouraging respondents to
develop topics in ways relevant to their own experience.

The approach of active interviewing proved to be very helpful for me as some of

the respondents were unable to express their views or understand the questions. For

111
example, when I asked the respondents if they could describe to me the characteristics of

their work, they were unable to comprehend the question. I told them I wanted to know if

their work involved any job rotation, how much control did they have over their work,

did they have to work in team or were they satisfied their salary and work profile. Once I

explained the question more specifically, most respondents gave me elaborate responses

to the questions. While interviewing, a systems analyst and the CEO of the Indian

software company, I encouraged them to develop topics that were relevant to their

experience. They both described to me experiences of women working in senior level

positions. For example, the systems analyst told me that ‘it was very lonely at the top for

women.’ Because of her seniority, men felt intimidated.

Confidentiality of any information elicited was assured to each respondent in

order to secure participation. I promised them that their names will not appear in any

presentations and published reports resulting from this research. Confidentiality is also

very important to elicit an honest response. As Lofland and Lofland (1995) have pointed

out, a guarantee of confidentiality for the people being researched is viewed as an

essential technique for ‘getting in.’ Moreover, once entrée has been accomplished, it is

viewed as a sacred trust.

The interviews were conducted in English and Hindi. Each interview lasted

between 30 and 60 minutes. Interviews were recorded with the permission of the

respondents, and later transcribed for analysis. Only two respondents did not agree for the

interview to be recorded. I took notes on my laptop for both of these interviews.

Respondents had the right to terminate the interview. They also had control over the tape-

recorder (i.e. they could ask the tape-recorder to be turned off). One of the respondents

112
terminated the interview in the middle as the senior partner of the company thought that

the interview was taking more time than anticipated. I had contacted one of the partners

of the firm seeking permission to interview females working in the company. He granted

me permission, and asked me to come in the evening to the office to interview the female

software professionals. He instructed the two respondents not to let me tape the

conversation. The interview took longer than expected because I had to take notes as I

was not granted the permission to record the interview. This made the boss angry, and he

had the interview terminated. I asked him to let me continue, but he was unyielding.

I had planned to conduct interviews in the homes, or outside their place of

employment in order to ensure that the respondents were in a comfortable surrounding

and felt free to express their views. However, I conducted only two interviews at a

restaurant. The others were conducted in conference rooms at the place of work. But most

respondents expressed their views freely as the interviews were still conducted in quiet

settings away from prying eyes. Some respondents did not want to be interviewed at

home as they stayed in the office until 8-10 pm at night. They thought that it was more

convenient to be interviewed in the office during the lunch break. Some of the interviews

were set up by their bosses, and they preferred the interviews to be conducted in the

office. The human resource department of the American multinational company set up

the interviews with the software professionals after I gave them a letter stating that the

study was being done primarily for research purposes, and the names of the respondents

and the company would never be mentioned (See Appendix B).

The interviews began as an informal talk with me giving a brief introduction

about myself and the goals of the study (See Appendix A). Most respondents were

113
amused to be part of the study as in India it is not common to conduct research. However,

after I explained the goal of the study, the interviewees expressed their happiness in being

selected for the study.

Data Analysis

While I was still in the field, I tried to transcribe interviews in the same week as

they were conducted. Initially I managed to do it, and it helped me to refine my interview

schedule. Though I could not do this as the research progressed and more interviews

accumulated, I made it a point to hear the transcripts of each interview in the night on the

day it was conducted.

The analysis of the interviews took place in two stages: (a) initial coding

of themes and issues, (b) coding with NUD*IST31. While I was in the field,

listening to the tapes and reviewing my field notes helped me to formulate some

of the very first themes guiding this analysis. At this early stage, these categories

remained open for revision. (Ely, 1984; Lofland and Lofland, 1984).

I transcribed only five interviews simultaneously during my data collection

process. The rest were transcribed after my return to the United States. My first step

toward analysis of the interview data was to draw a small chart for each of my questions.

It was simpler for factual information like age, marital status, salary, designation at work,

years of experience The process was more complicated for subjective questions.

My initial themes were various sections of my questions in the interview

schedule: educational background, nature of work and technology, issues related to

31
NUD*IST: an acronym for non-numeric unstructured data index searching and theorizing. This is a
computer package that assists in qualitative data analysis.

114
gender, nature of company, and future perceptions. This open coding helped me bring

themes to the surface from inside the data. The themes are at a low level of abstraction

and come from researcher’s initial questions, previous literature, terms used in the social

setting, or new thoughts stimulated through immersion in the data. As Schatzman and

Strauss (1973; 121) have pointed out, a researcher needs to see abstract concepts in

concrete data and move back and forth between abstract concepts and specific details:

Novices occasionally, if not characteristically, bog down in their attempts


to utilize substantive levers [i.e., concepts of a discipline] because they
view them as real forms. Experienced researchers and scholars more often
see through these abstract devices to the ordinary, empirical realities they
represent; they are thereby capable of considerable conceptual mobility.
Thus, we urge the novice in analysis to convert relatively inert abstractions
into stories – even with plots.

After constructing these themes, I looked for sub-themes or sub-categories with

each. For example, for the theme on gender, the initial sub-categories were: staying late

at work, managing family and work, treatment of female employees. Similarly, for the

question on nature of work and technology, I had categories such as programming

languages, job rotation, control over work, perception about jobs. Drawing these tables or

charts helped me in analyzing the nature of relationship between nature of work and

programming languages used, work experiences of female employees in software

companies. While I was almost midway in my analysis, I started using NUD*IST. I

coded free nodes first. I created 34 free node32 categories (See Appendix C). After

creating these nodes, I coded all the relevant information pertaining to all these

categories. I then created the index tree33 (See Appendix C). The index tree basically

32
Nodes are places for storing ideas and collecting coding. Free nodes are non-hierarchical.
33
Index Tree nodes include categories and sub-categories.

115
helped in creating a mental map of the entire data analysis. Categories and themes that

seemed “free” and unrelated found a connection and place in the analysis scheme. For

example, using index trees was really helpful in identifying factors that affected the

educational choice of the respondents. There were some categories such as sense of

security or lack of guidance that seemed unrelated initially, but using index trees helped

me identify them as factors that influence educational choices of respondents.

To make analysis of the data simple around the research questions, I made two

index trees. I constructed the first index tree to code the data on the research questions

about work experiences of female software professionals, and work experiences of

female software professionals compared to female-dominated occupations. I constructed

the second index tree to code data for the research question on the skill-training

experiences of female software professionals (see Appendix C).

116
Chapter Six
Work Experiences of Female Software Professionals

Software technology has a skill-training life cycle as the level of skills change

with the development of the technology. The early stage programming languages are

highly skilled and labor intensive. However, the later stage programming languages,

which are also referred as procedural languages, are deskilled. Thus the stage of

programming language has an effect on the type of work that software professionals do.

This chapter compares the work experiences of women software professionals with

reference to the stages of programming languages.

Although traditionally, computer programmers have been classified into three

types: coders, programmers and systems analysts (Kraft, 1977). The categorization of

software professionals as given by Kraft does not shed light on the kind of technologies

used by the female software professionals at work. For this study, I found that systems

analysts and programmers were using early stage programming languages, and coders

and non-technical professionals used later stage programming languages. The first

section of the chapter deals with different criteria that are used in the study to rank jobs in

the job queue. The second part of the chapter discusses work experiences of women

software professionals. The last section compares work in the software industry with

teaching.

Ranking of Jobs in the Job Queue

It is important to understand the ranking of jobs in the job queue as workers rank

jobs in job queues in terms of their attractiveness. This ranking, in addition with rankings

117
in the labor queue, determine which jobs are available for which group of workers. For

example, best jobs go to the most preferred workers and less attractive jobs go to less

preferred workers. For this study, I have used the following criteria’s to determine the

worker’s ranking of jobs in the job queue: income, autonomy, working conditions and

chances of advancement. In addition, I have asked the respondent their perceptions about

their own job, and also of those jobs that are ranked higher and lower in the job queue as

compared to their own.

Ranking of Jobs Based on Salary

Women software professionals using early stage programming languages, on

average, earned about Rs 28,000 ($560) per month (See Table 6.1). Amongst them, the

only systems analyst interviewed refused to tell her salary. The programmers earned

about Rs 25,000 ($500) per month (See Table 6.2 for further details) Women

programmers working with multinational companies had much higher salaries (Rs 30,000

/ $ 600 per month) compared to women working with Indian software companies (Rs

10,000 / $ 200 per month). The only non-technical professional using early stage

programming language earned Rs 55,000 ($510) per month.

Women software professionals using later stage programming languages earned

about Rs 18,000 ($360) per month. This difference in salary was found despite the fact

that women software professionals using early and later stage programming languages

had the same number of years of experience (three years).

118
Table: 6.1 Salary and Experience Based on Stage of Programming Language

Programming Language Average Salary Average Experience


Early Rs 28,000 ($560) 3 years
Late Rs 18,000 ($360) 3 years

Among software professionals using later stage programming languages, coders

earned about Rs 12,000 ($ 240) per month and non-technical professionals earned Rs

24,000 ($480) per month (See Table 6.2 for further details). A wide disparity was seen in

the salary of coders, with the highest salary being Rs 35,000 ($700) per month and the

lowest Rs 5,500 ($110).

Even women working in the software companies in non-technical capacities

earned almost double the amount earned by coders -- about Rs 24,000 ($500) per month.

However, the average experience of non-technical professionals was about five years –

about two years more than that of coders. Amongst the non-technical professionals, the

CEO of the Indian company earned the highest salary -- about Rs 100,000 ($2,000) per

month. (For details see Table 6.2).

119
Table 6.2: Salary and Experience Based on Occupational Classification

Occupation Average Salary Average Experience


Programmers Rs 25,000 ($500) 2 years
Coders Rs 12,000 ($240) 3 years
Systems Analysts Did not tell 13 years
Non-technical Rs 24,000 ($500) 5 years

professionals

Ranking of Jobs and Salary Satisfaction

Out of ten software professionals using early stage programming language, six

were satisfied with their salary. This included five programmers and the only non-

technical software professional. The systems analyst was not satisfied with her salary.

However, she was quick to point out that she was not being discriminated on the basis of

sex, and was earning as much as the men in the same position in the occupational

hierarchy.

Women software professionals whose salaries had been cut back due to the

recession at the time of the study were dissatisfied with their salary. Some felt that the

companies were using the recession as an excuse to exploit employees. As Milli, a

software engineer, pointed out:

I think that people are not satisfied with their salary. After the recession,
companies have taken advantage of it. They have exploited the employees
as they know that the market conditions are poor. I don’t think the current
scenario is bad.

Nine out of seventeen software professionals using late stage programming

languages were satisfied with their salary. This included seven coders and two non-

technical professionals. Despite having lower salaries, about half of the coders seemed

satisfied with their salary. Seven coders out of a total of thirteen said that they were

120
satisfied with their salary. They pointed out that the salary was satisfactory keeping their

experience in mind. “I am satisfied because with my experience it is okay,” said Krishna,

a coder. Only one coder pointed out that although the salary was satisfactory, the

workload was too much in relation to it. As Ayesha, a web designer, said: “I did not mind

the salary, but I did mind the workload.”

Most non-technical professionals were also satisfied with their salary. Three out

of five said that their salary was satisfactory taking their experience into account. Only

two said that they were not satisfied as ‘some extra money is always welcome.’

Job Characteristics of Female Software Workers

Nature of work

The nature of the work of women software professionals using early stage

programming language differed significantly from those using late stage programming

language. The work of those using early stage languages was more challenging, skilled

and diverse. For example, the systems analyst, interviewed for the study, was in-charge

of an entire team. Her work involved management and technology development. She was

not only providing technical guidance to team members, but was also in-charge of

financial management, coordination, resource generation and marketing. Describing her

work, Sarita, the systems analyst pointed out:

We have four divisions in our organization, and I am heading one of the


divisions – switching and routing. I am heading a team of about 40 people.
I am working on all state of art technologies, and I feel very proud about
it. Most of the work involves project management, financing, resourcing,
coordination and team management, revenue generation, coordination
with marketing. As a profit incentive head, I am responsible for revenue
generation, and also responsible for resources and batches. It is overall

121
responsibility so most of the work is about that, plus I have to look for
new business and I have to update my section with new technology, new
projects, new skills, new papers, new proposals. It is quite challenging.

The work of programmers was also skilled and diverse. They were involved in

development of software and packages at all the stages of its life cycle. For example,

Indrani, a software engineer with the American multinational company, explained:

Responsibility of a particular module34 is given to me, including the entire


software life cycle that starts with the requirement analysis. We start with
design, once the design phase is complete, we have a coding phase then
system testing, system integration and system integration testing.

In addition, the nature of the work of programmers changed with each project

requirement. “My work has been very diverse throughout. I am not restricted to any

particular project. For the moment it is for voice-over. Tomorrow, it can be something

else,” said Nishita, a programmer.

The programmers had to keep themselves acquainted with the emerging

technologies. It was primarily their task to master these technologies on their own

depending upon project requirements, although sometimes companies provided them

some form of training. For example, Indrani, added, “… We have to get acquainted with

new technologies depending upon project requirements.”

The work of the only non-technical professional using an early stage

programming language was also skilled and diverse. On being asked to describe the

nature of her work, Sucharu said, “My work involves interacting with customers,

understanding their needs, mapping it on the system, which is the ERP (enterprise

34
A module is part of the project that performs a particular function.

122
resource planning). We do interfacing with the client and the software. Major work is

understanding the customer’s needs and mapping it on the software.”

In contrast, the work of women software professionals using late stage

programming languages was limited as they were primarily responsible for making and

maintaining websites. On being asked to describe the nature of the current job, most of

them pointed out that their work involved making html web pages, uploading them and

doing the coding to maintain the website. For example, describing her work, Mekhla, a

coder said: “I make changes in the web pages, if the editorial staff has some technical

difficulties like web pages are not uploading, I have to do that….. We have to make

special packages also. For example, I made one for the soccer world cup. We have to do

maintenance and uploading of pages.”

In addition, I found that the Indian company specializing in computer hardware

employed only women as customer support engineers. The women were either working

at the customer’s site or at the office providing solutions for hardware problems faced by

the customer, coordinating between engineers in the field. In order to manage their

diverse tasks, the women software professionals used Lotus Notes software. This

software helped them do database management, file sharing, word processing etc.

Describing the nature of her work, Sudha, said;

We provide technical support to field engineers and customers. The


company gives me technical material to read, and if the field engineers
require help as we are dealing with computer hardware… They call us up
and tell us that they are facing this problem. Because of our experience we
come to know that for this particular problem, this is the troubleshooting
method, so we guide our engineers.

123
Like the coders, the technical work that most non-technical professionals did was

not skilled or challenging. They primarily maintained and created web pages. For

example, the CEO of the Indian company said that when she started the company, apart

from management, she used to do technical work such as making web pages etc.

Describing her work, she said, “I am heading a unit that is into search and head hunting.

The first four years, I set up the entire company so I handled everything from marketing

to making web pages.”

Team Work

Most respondents said that they had to work in teams, irrespective of whether they

were using early or later stage programming languages. The interviewees pointed out that

the work was divided between team members depending upon a person’s area of

specialization. Describing her work, Niharika, a software engineer said:

Work is divided equally among the members. We have a ten member


group, and within that we have five two member teams. The project
manager or technical leader introduces us to the requirement of the client,
and then the team members divide the work and set a time frame to finish
it. We divide the work amongst ourselves depending upon our
specializations.

On being asked, how she assigns work to the team members working under her, the

systems analyst explained:

I have program managers for each of the projects. Currently I have four
projects under me. I do broad level planning for them, while day-to-day
planning is done by program managers. But I keep a day-to-day tab on
status because in most cases program managers need help in making
decisions. I do not interfere in day-to-day activities, but I do help them out
when I realize that some things are going wrong. For example, I became
late for our interview today because there was an urgency. We are
working on a project, and it ran into some problems. The program
manager took some decisions that caused a problem in our program. I

124
called the program manager back from lunch, redesigned the strategy and
redistributed work.

The CEO of the Indian software company also said that she gives a free hand to

her employees to carry their day-to-day responsibilities and just maintains checks on

them. She explained, “I have a team of about 40-45 people working with me. I have to

ensure that all the people at different levels are doing their work well. I do not maintain

strict tight controls on them, I just make regular checks.”

Even the coders pointed out that team work was important in order to ensure that

work is done in an orderly fashion. Describing her work, Sheela, a coder, said:

Most of time we have to work in teams. If we have to design a microsite.


A microsite is an independent channel by itself within the entire site. For
example, we did a microsite on the prisoners of war. We assign different
modules to each person. Each person completes the task assigned to him
or her. Team work is very important. We have to interact with each other
to ensure smooth flow of work”

Control Over Work

Most interviewees believed that they had substantial control over their work

irrespective of whether they were using early or late stage programming languages.

However, they pointed out that their work is always supervised, and they can always

consult the team leader or head of the department if they face a problem. As explained by

two programmers:

You have to make decisions yourself, but your project manager is always
there to review your work, and if he does not like it, he will tell that it
should be done in another way. He gives you an opportunity to rethink the
problem.

The team leader gives you the problem and you are supposed to find the
solution. You can discuss the solution with him, and if he agrees you can
go ahead with it. ….. You are not bound by one particular method. You

125
are given work, you do it, you can take any method, just discuss it with
your team leader. Once you reach a consensus you can go ahead.

The interviewees attributed flexibility at work to various reasons such as the work

culture, the size of the organization, and the nature of job. For example, Manjula,

working as a web developer in a company that employed only six people, pointed out that

the organization was so small that everyone’s voice was heard. “We are a small firm, and

we communicate easily and talk about your problems.”

Another web designer, Mekhla, said that she had control over her work because

she was the only technical person in the entire team. “Nobody understands coding so we

have to handle everything. The work is simple, and it has to be done in HTML. However,

the other team members do not know the language so they have to consult me with their

problems.”

Some female software professionals pointed out that at times their work is

governed by factors that are not in their control. For example, Ayesha, a coder said:

“Production can really affect your final outcome….. Sometimes you might design

something, and the printers might not agree with you or they might not have paper to

print for the technique that you have used.”

Job Rotation

The work of most women software professionals using early stage programming

languages involved multi-tasking. This included the systems analyst, six programmers

and the non-technical professional. For example, the systems analyst interviewed for the

study pointed out that she was not only responsible for projects technically, but her work

involved financial management, coordination, resource generation and marketing. Out of

126
eight programmers, only two said that they had never seen a change in their job profile.

Most programmers pointed out that their work involved multi-tasking. They had to work

on different projects at the same time, and they also worked with different teams on these

projects. Explained one interviewee: “Depending upon the project requirements, the work

changes. I might be designing something else tomorrow. Everybody is skilled in most

things. I have been shifted from project to project.”

Nine out of seventeen women software professionals using late stage

programming language said that their work involved job rotation. This included seven

coders and two non-technical professionals. The coders whose work did not involve job

rotation seemed dismayed. Expressing her disappointment Sudha, a coder said: “Job

rotation should be there, but it is not there. If the company sends me to a customer site, I

would learn more and give better guidance to the field engineers. But it has not happened

as yet.”

Another coder pointed out that there was not much scope for job rotation as she

was working in an online infotainment company, which employed only two persons in a

technical capacity. “I do not think that job rotation is possible in this company. It is not a

software company, where you have different projects every three-four month. Here we

work on only one project. You just try and improve the quality of your work.”

The Job Mobility of Women and Promotion

About half of respondents – three using early stage programming language and

twelve later stage programming language -- pointed out that females in their company

had not received a promotion recently. On being asked if females had received

127
promotions in the company in the last year, two interviewees said they did not know as

they had recently joined the company. Most interviewees blamed the ongoing recession

at the time of the study for lack of upward mobility in the company and did not think that

the sex of an employee had a role to play in promotion. For example, Vishaka, working

in a non-technical capacity said, “These days we are having retention so there are no

chances for promotion. If a woman deserves promotion, I am sure that she will get it, it

is not that they will prefer male members above her.” Others also pointed out that their

designation had changed. However, they did not receive a hike in their salary.

On being asked what it takes for women to move up the occupational ladder, the

systems analyst believed that women at high level positions in a company have to deal

with ‘games men play’ as the women are a minority in numbers. She explained:

You need to cope with games and politics that go on in the organization.
You cannot lose your nerves and get disheartened by the games men play.
You have to be smart and keep your eyes and ears open. You should know
how to deal with day- to-day situations.

The interviewees, irrespective of the stage of programming language used

believed that women need to work hard, be technically competent, knowledgeable, and

disciplined in order to move up the occupational ladder. For example, Maitrayee, a coder,

said: “….. You should give your full attention to your work, work hard, put 100 percent

effort and commitment. Everyday if you are ready to work with commitment then you are

able to move up the occupational ladder.” However, a small minority believed that

females might sometimes need to go an extra step in order to move up the occupational

ladder. As explained by Krishna, a programmer:

She has to be confident, technically sound, speak up and not to get bogged

128
down by other people. She has to be competent. She might have to force
her way out at times in order to show that she is equivalent to men. Men
are naturally aggressive, but women are not. However, it is required at
times. Sometimes you need to be strong and bold.

However, most respondents believed that a change is needed in the attitudes of

both companies and people in order to ensure than men and women have the same

opportunities. “We need to change this attitude that women are the weaker sex,” said

Sucharu, a non-technical professional. Others believed that companies should make

special provisions for women to ensure that they are more comfortable in their work

setting. For example Milli, a software engineer explained:

I think the companies need to make an extra effort. They should keep this
in the mind that if they send a woman out of town to do some work, they
have to make better arrangements for her. For example, they have to
arrange a single room for her. They do not have to do this for a man as
they are able to adjust in any kind of environment. But that does not go for
a woman. I think they need to make all these efforts to push women ahead.
They should realize that women are equally good, and even if they go out
of town they can handle things better.

Many interviewees pointed out that women need to strike a balance between

home and work in order to be successful. As two interviewees pointed out:

If a woman is married and has children, it is important that she manages


her time better because as the situation is in India, cities are not safe. She
has to finish her work early. Many of us prefer to come early rather than
stay late. We do not mind coming around seven or eight in the morning,
and be out of the office by seven or maximum eight pm. A certain degree
of discipline and time management is required. I do not think that women
are weaker, maybe a little in Math. But I feel that has more to do in the
process in which you are groomed, since childhood one thing is inculcated
in you that at the end of the day it is the home front that you have to
manage. I think that a girl child grows up instinctively thinking like that.

I think lot has to come from women. One of the facts of life is that women
get pregnant, and that plays a very important role in their career course.

129
People expect that once when you have a baby, you will take time off, and
would like to go home early. Either you should be extra efficient, and
show them what needs to be done so they are not worried. Women tend to
move with their husband. It is very unfair because people think that if a
man moves it is good for his career, whereas for a woman it is only for her
husband. It is always perceived that her decision will be related to a lot of
other decisions. This is the fact of life that we have to live with. These are
the two most important things that we discuss when we hire a woman.
This is something that at societal level we need to figure out. At an
individual level, if a woman is really good and if she can command respect
then no one has any problems. There are enough women reaching the top,
but it is a tough drive, you need to have a supportive family, you need to
be independent to take your own decisions.

Describing the different role expectations from both the sexes and the effect they

can have on a woman’s career, Niharika, a software engineer added:

I think attitude, determination, family support is required for a woman to


move up in her career. A woman needs extra as you are expected to do
more as far as your family is concerned. If you are married, even if you
reach home at 10 at night, you are expected to cook. Men generally do not
do all this work.

The analysis of the results show that jobs that involve the use of early stage

programming languages are ranked higher in the job queue than those that involve the use

of later stage programming languages. The study arrives at the given conclusion because

women software professionals using early stage programming languages on an average

have higher salaries – they earn Rs 10,000 ($200) per month more than those using later

stage programming languages. The work of professionals using early stage programming

language was found to be more skilled and challenging as compared to that of those using

later stage programming languages. However, the research did not find discernible

differences between autonomy at work, opportunities for team work, job rotation and

130
occupational advancement amongst software professionals in reference to the stage of

programming language.

Ranking of Jobs based on Self-perception

An analysis of data shows that number of years of work experience has a

correlation with the perception of software workers toward their jobs. Most women

software professionals using early stage programming language categorized their position

as high, middle or low depending upon their years of work experience. The systems

analyst, who had 13 years of work experience described her position as a high level

position as she was the head of the routing and switching division, and reported directly

to the President of the company.

All programmers described their jobs as low or middle level depending upon the

number of years of work experience. Women programmers with three or more years of

work experience believed that their jobs were in the middle of the occupational hierarchy

of the company. Only one programmer with three years of experience said that her

designation was of an entry level person. However, the nature of work was more like a

middle level employee in the company. “In terms of salary and designation, I am a low

level employee. However, with resource crunch, I am doing the work of a higher level

employee as I have got high level authorizations,” she pointed out. The rest of the

programmers with less than three years of experience believed that their jobs were at the

bottom of the occupational hierarchy. The field of study did not seem to have an effect on

the self-perception of workers. (For further details see Table 6.3). Although, one

programmer, who did not have an engineering degree, and had only two years of

131
experience, pointed out that her work was that of a middle level employee. But her

colleagues in the same company, who had engineering degrees and similar job

experience, believed that they were low level employees. The only non-technical

professional, using early stage programming language, categorized herself as a middle

level employee and she had been working for six years.

Table 6.3: Educational, Experience and Perception of Women Professionals Using

Early Stage Programming Language

Name Field of study Occupation Experience Perceived level


Sarita Engineering Systems analyst 13 years High
Indrani Engineering Programmer 1 year Low
Monica Engineering Programmer 3 years Low
Niharika Engineering Programmer 2 years Low
Shirina Engineering Programmer 3 years Middle
Ritika Engineering Programmer 5 years Middle

Nishita Non-engineering Programmer 2 years Middle


Milli Non-engineering Programmer One-and-half Low
Shalini Non-engineering Programmer 5 years Middle
Sucharu Non-engineering Non-techncial 6 years Middle

On the other hand, most women software professionals using late stage

programming languages had a very positive estimation of their work. Twelve of them

described their jobs as a middle level position, three described it as a high level position,

one described it as a low level position, and one explained that there were no strict

hierarchies in the company (See Table 6.4).

The study found that the coders in particular have a higher self perception about

their work, irrespective of their work experience (See Table 6.4 for further details). The

132
range of experience varied from six months to nine years, and did not seem to have a

correlation with the self-perception of work. For example, a coder with six months of

experience described her work as being high level, whereas another coder with nine years

of experience described her position as middle level. Even the coders with an engineering

background had a positive estimation of their work. They described their work as middle

and high level, despite the fact that they had much less work experience. (See Table 6.4).

In contrast to the coders, the self-perception of non-technical professionals using

late stage programming languages was correlated with the number of years of experience.

Women professionals with work experience ranging between two and five years said that

they were middle level employees. The CEO of the Indian software company described

herself as the ‘dominant person’ in the company. The only non-technical professional

with less than two years of experience said that she was a low level employee as she was

working at the entry level position, and did not have any prior work experience. (See

Table 6.4).

133
Table 6.4: Education, Experience & Perception of Women Software

Professionals Using Late Stage Programming Language

Name Field of Study Occupation Experience Perceived Level


Maitrayee Engineering Coder 2 years Middle
Mekhla Engineering Coder 10 months High
Meena Non-engineering Coder 3 years Middle
Krishna Non-engineering Coder One& half yrs Middle
Malika Non-engineering Coder 3 years Middle
Neela Non-engineering Coder 4 years No hierarchy
Sheela Non-engineering Coder 2 years Middle
Ayesha Non-engineering Coder 2 years Middle
Preeya Non-engineering Coder 9 years Middle
Sudha Non-engineering Coder 2 years Middle
Divya Non-engineering Coder 4 years Middle
Swati Non-engineering Coder 6 months High
Manjula Non-engineering Coder 2 years Middle
Aprajita Non-engineering Non-technical 4 1/2 years Middle
Aishwarya Non-engineering Non-technical 12 years High
Vishaka Non-engineering Non-technical Six months Low

The analysis of the results clearly shows that coders have a higher self-perception

of their work as compared with other software professionals despite the fact that their

work is less skilled, challenging and diverse. This might suggest that taking their

educational background and work experience into account, coding provides them with

avenues such as job rotation, autonomy at work and occupational advancement that might

not have been available to them otherwise. One of the other popular alternates available

to them would be teaching which most respondents believed was ‘not creative or

challenging’ and was not well paid.

134
Perception of Jobs ranked Higher in the Job Queue

Most software professionals, irrespective of the programming language used, had

similar opinions about jobs that were ranked higher to them in the occupational hierarchy.

Most believed that the jobs that were ranked higher in the occupational hierarchy were

less technical and required more managerial work. They pointed out that the work

required decision making, interacting with clients, supervision, allocation of tasks,

guiding juniors, managing and coordinating between team members. As two

programmers explained:

They also do programming, but more of management. We are into


core programming, they guide us and do programming also. I think
it is 50-50 programming and management.

Each module has one technical leader, who has various kinds of
responsibilities, not programming alone. His responsibility is more
towards the managerial side. His job is to manage this small group
of people under him. Above a technical leader, we have project
manager. … The project manager looks after the management of
several projects.

They believed that a software professional should have more experience and

knowledge in order to be able to fill these positions. As Shalini, who worked as a

programmer with a multinational company, explained:

You need lot of experience. They are really good in their


respective fields, and we should also try and become like that. In
order to achieve the higher positions, you need to be a champion in
your field, and you should have more than eight to ten years of
experience.

135
The respondents pointed out that along with extra responsibilities, there is more

stress and tension as they are answerable to higher management in the company. Despite

this most software professionals aspired for jobs that are ranked higher in the

occupational hierarchy. As Sheela, who was working with a web company, explained,

“The higher level jobs require more managerial skills. Developers are at the lowest level

then you have team leaders. The work of team leaders is more about management, and it

requires a lot of experience. And, I would like to be a manager.”

Perception of Jobs Ranked Lower in Job Queue

Most women software professionals using early stage programming languages

believed that those using late stage programming languages were ranked lower in the

occupational hierarchy. They believed that the work of those using late stage

programming languages was not very technically challenging. The women programmers

said that the work was monotonous and could be learned by doing a six-month diploma,

while one needed to have a formal engineering degree in order to learn programming. As

Shirina, who was working with an Indian software company explained.

If you are doing programming, and working on core languages such as C


and C++, you will be considered a middle level programmer. But if you
are working on HTML and doing web designing then you will be
considered a lower level programmer. Actually, everybody wants to aim
higher. Right now I am a middle level so I do not want to do those kind of
jobs. The work is not like what we are doing; they do not work on core
technologies; they use HTML which any layman can do. By doing a
course from NIIT for five months, you can do that programming. But if
you want to go for a middle and high level job you need an engineering
degree.

136
The women software professionals using early stage programming languages

pointed out that their work was more satisfying, and did not want to do web work that

involves the use of late stage programming languages. As Shirina explained:

They are working for web all the time. It is a different kind of line so if
one is interested in website designing then it is okay to pursue that career.
Since I am involved in programming, I am interested in learning more in
this field instead of doing that job.

Another problem that professionals using early stage programming languages had

with the work of those using late stage was that it was less autonomous, more sedentary.

For example, Monica, said: “Sometimes, I am happy that I do not have to do that kind of

work…. Those jobs are like that all the time someone is fiddling with your work. I am the

kind of person, who does not like any kind of disturbance when I am working.”

In addition, the programmers and systems analyst pointed out that they did not

think very highly of jobs involving web designing because the salary was much lower in

these jobs. On being asked about what she thought about jobs that were ranked in the

occupational hierarchy, Sudha, an engineer said: “They are okay, I do not say that these

are bad positions. The coders are satisfied with their work, but they are not satisfied with

their salary. Although the pressure is much more than what should be there.”

On the contrary, women software professionals using late stage programming

languages argued that their jobs were creative, and positions that only require cutting and

pasting were ranked below them in the occupational hierarchy. As Divya a coder said: “It

is very boring and monotonous work as it only involves copying things from here and

there, and not applying any creativity. You are just copying work that has been done

already. I also did that kind of work when I started my career.”

137
Some coders believed that those who do not have much work experience are

ranked lower in the occupational hierarchy because they are still honing their technical

skills. As Krishna pointed out:

The beginners are ranked lower in the occupational hierarchy. They have
about two years of experience, and they are still in a learning phase. Their
work is very simple and basic. They learn from us. For example, if I am
doing some implementation work, they assist me in it. They come and
watch me and then do it themselves later.

The coders also pointed out that they also learned from the new recruits. For

example, Manjula said, “The new recruits provide us fresh outlook. They can act as our

mentors. They can learn from us and we can learn from them, it is a process of mutual

exchange.”

Most women software professionals using early stage programming languages

ranked those jobs that involved the use of late stage languages lower in the job queue.

The professionals using late stage programming languages, particularly the coders,

ranked those jobs that were ‘less creative’ lower in the job queue. However, all software

professionals agreed that jobs that were ranked higher in the job queue involved

management.

Women and Work Experience

Sex Composition of Jobs

All women software professionals using early stage programming language apart

from the non-technical professionals, pointed out that their peers were predominantly

men. The only systems analyst, who was heading one of the technical departments, said

138
that all the other department heads were men. All the eight programmers said that their

peers were predominantly men.

However, most women software professionals using later stage programming

languages pointed out that men were not a majority in numbers at their level. For

example, seven coders said that there was an equal mix of men and women in their job.

Four coders and four non-technical professionals pointed out that women outnumbered

men at their level. But two women coders, who provided technical assistance to field

engineers, said that there were more men in their field than women. This was primarily

because the company hired only men as field engineers while women were hired for desk

jobs. Their job profile included providing technical assistance to field engineers, and

listening to the customer complaints over the telephone.

Among the non-technical software professionals, four said that their profession

had more women. On comparing her work to the other women in the department,

Vishaka a non-technical professional said: “I feel happy here as there are many women in

my department. I feel as far as the nature of the job is concerned, I cannot compare as

each individual is doing their own work. Hard work and sincerity makes all the

difference.” The CEO of the software company said that the other partner who had more

shares than her in the company was a man.

All programmers pointed out that there were fewer female employees in their

department as compared to other departments such as management in the companies. As

Niharika, a software engineer pointed out: “I have been working for eleven months. In

my team there is no other woman. However, there are lots of women working in non-

139
technical departments in the company. They all joined at the same time as me, and they

are my friends.”

The interviewees also tended to compare their work technically with other female

employees of the company. The systems analyst pointed out that she was the only female

in a senior management position so her work was very different from all the other female

employees. “I am the only female head of a department. I hope my juniors are able to

achieve what I have in the near future.”

When asked how her work compares with that of other women in the company,

Shirina, a software engineer explained:

My work is very different. I am working in a technical capacity, and most


other women are in the administrative section The work is absolutely
different, no doubt everyone’s work is good. But we have to devote more
time and have to have more knowledge.

The interviewees, when comparing their work with the other women in the

company, tended to have a better self-assessment of their work under conditions where

most of the other women were working in a non-technical capacity in the company. As

two respondents working in an online infotainment company pointed out:

I think my work is more satisfying….I am very happy doing what I am


doing. I would not like to be an editor. Most of the women are editors…. I
like my work because it is technical.

My work is very technical, it requires coding, surfing the net and picking
up stories. The work of most other female employees is totally content
oriented. It is like journalism. I prefer my work as I am not into writing.

Treatment of Female Employees

Most interviewees, irrespective of the stage of programming language used,

believed that the sex of the employee did not have an effect on the manner in they were

140
treated. However, when asked if women are treated differently by their bosses, the

systems analyst answered that it is a possibility as ‘men sometimes have different

attitudes towards women.’ Only three programmers believed that there was differential

treatment on the basis of sex. As one programmer explained:

If you are going abroad, and if you have to choose between man and
woman, there is a leaning towards sending the male….. In this industry,
you are expected to be professional, you might have to travel abroad.
…..Sometimes, if your immediate supervisor, is a female then it might
hurt the ego of some males if you have a female leading the group.

One programmer argued that women have certain advantages that other male

employees do not enjoy. “If the boss is a man, and a mistake is done by a girl, she will

get a scolding in a much politer way than a male employee,” she explained.

Three coders also believed that female employees are treated differently by their

superiors. Explaining the differential treatment of male and female employees, Malika, a

coder, pointed out:

People have this mentality that girls are unable to do certain things and are
different. One day I told my boss that I want to go out in the field. He told
me that in our organization, we want the girls to be in the office because it
is more comfortable for them. If you are doing marketing then you have to
go out as it is the requirement of your job. But if you are in this
department, we have field engineers who work in the field more efficiently
then it is not advisable. You can work easily by sitting in office.

According to the respondents, male bonding has a significant effect on the work

environment, and treatment of female employees. One interviewee, Ayesha, described

her experiences:

….Male bonding is always there. I faced it sometimes when I was working


in production, and had to print my work. All the printers were men, and
they will never let you know what is happening. They always treat you as

141
if you do not know anything, and somehow you end up feeling that you do
not know anything yourself. They will just tell you we will do the work.
They act as if they are doing a favor. Once I had a fight with them.
Another woman employee and I had gone for some work. This fellow kept
on saying that he will do it, but he had no intention of doing it. We figured
that out. But if you are pushy and clearer and little stern, then you can get
your work done.

Interestingly, all the five non-technical professionals believed that the sex of the

employee had no effect on the manner in which they were treated by their superiors.

Sucharu, a manager in the MNC explained: ‘We have a very young crowd since this is

the software division. Lot of people are out of college and they are freshers so I have not

seen anything.’

Staying Late

Most respondents, irrespective of the stage of programming language used,

pointed out that staying late in the office was a major problem for female employees as

they had to strike a balance between work and home; and females faced issues of threat to

their safety. As Monica a software engineer pointed out: “One of my friends in the

telecommunication department wanted to leave early as her son was ill. However, her

boss did not let her go home early, and he also made her come to work on a Saturday and

Sunday.” The female respondents believed that staying late at work leads to problems at

home as family members fear for the safety of women. As elaborated by Indrani, a

software engineer:

Staying late was difficult for my parents to accept initially, but


they know that the industry works like this. But I know that it will
be definitely difficult for me to stay late later in my life. I am not
married right now so managing a family does not pose a problem.
But the thought remains in my mind that later I might have to
juggle work and home. I leave my home at 8 am, and go back at 8
at night after twelve hours of work. If you have to stay late then

142
you might have to stay for 2-3 hours depending upon the kind of
work that you are handling at that time so it is difficult.

Comparison of Working in Software Industry and Teaching

For most women software professionals in India, there are very few other

opportunities that are available to them in a tight labor market. One of the most common

alternate is teaching.35 Teaching has benefits such as short working hours and holidays.

However, teachers in India are paid a very low salary.

On the other hand, working as a software professional involves working long

hours and staying late in the office. On an average, women software professionals, who

were interviewed for the study, worked for about 12 hours everyday – coming to office at

8 AM and leaving at 8 PM. They often had to stay back late in the office to meet

deadlines and sometimes even work on weekends. The long and late hours pose problems

specifically for women as most cities in India are not safe for women at night. This is

particularly true if women have to use public transportation. There are many reported

cases of molestation36 and even rape37 of women traveling alone in bus or train. Working

long hours also does not leave enough time to women professionals to devote to their

families.

Most respondents believed that striking a balance between family and work was

the biggest hurdle facing women software professionals as they often had to keep long

35
Women comprise 29 percent of teachers at the primary school level in India. This number drops to 22
percent at the university level. However, only 54% of women are literate as compared to 76% of men in
India. www.ibe.unesco.org/International/ Databanks/Dossiers/sindia.htm - 42k
36
In 1997, 34,937 cases of molestation were reported in India. This was an increase from 32,479 reported
cases in 1996. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/Organizations/healthnet/SAsia/resources/resourcesframe.html
37
In the year 2002, 403 cases of rape were reported in New Delhi. This represented an increase of 9.4%
from the last year. However, the police solved only 344 cases, and arrested 544 persons in 2004. Most of
the rapes in India are committed by men known to the victim such as neighbors, fathers and uncles.
http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/611_0,001300540000.htm

143
hours at work, stay back late, and were occasionally expected to travel. Despite this

problem, most interviewees did not want to pursue female-dominated profession such as

teaching38 that gave more time to look after the family. Only four software professionals

– three using early stage and one using later programming languages -- pointed out that

they liked teaching, and might consider it as an option at a later stage. This included the

systems analyst, two programmers and one coder.

On being asked whether she would like to pursue another occupation, the systems

analyst said that she would like to retire early, and take up a less stressful occupation

such as being a school principal. However, she did not want to teach students.

I would like to be a principal in a good school. I might take up that job


when I retire or when I am in my 50s, when I want to get a cool job. My
job is very demanding so later in my life I would like to take up a job that
is less stressful. I would like to take a job of principal not that of teacher. I
have a daughter, and it becomes difficult for me to manage family and
work. I have put her in day care. I have kept a servant for doing the
household work so I am able to dedicate more time to my daughter when I
am at home.

Most interviewees believed that teaching provided ample time to women to be

able to meet their domestic responsibilities. However, they believed that the problem was

the salary of teachers is comparatively less and the work environment is not good. As

pointed out by one programmer:

Sometimes that I think, teaching is a good option. It gives you some form
of financial freedom as you have a source income, you can look after your
family. You have the same hours as your children. You are back when
they come back home from school. But once you have worked in a
corporate environment, you do not want to go back to teaching. Salary and
work environment are a major concern.
38
In India, teaching is the only popular female-dominated profession in the middle class. Women from the
middle class look down upon other female dominated professions such as nursing and secretarial work.
Therefore, the study asked the respondents to compare their profession only to teaching as most of the
interviewees hailed from a middle class background.

144
Some respondents argued that teaching like medicine was suitable for women as it

involved care and nurturing, qualities that women possess. ‘There are some professions

for which you need to have specific qualities. For example, doctors have to provide care,

and therefore medicine is considered favorable for women. I might like to become a

teacher myself. I consider it a good profession like being a lecturer,’ said a programmer.

Teaching appeased some women software professionals due to the flexibility of

work hours. They argued that teaching is a good option, after you get married and have

children. The interviewees pointed out that they might pursue teaching when their

children are very young. As one programmer elaborated:

Teaching is good for girls after you are married. In software companies
you have to stay back late, and you have so much pressure on your mind.
At this moment, I do not think that I would be able to devote my time for
my family. Teaching is a nine to five job, even there you enhance your
knowledge. It is not a dull job. I might think about it myself at a later
stage. I might take it up for two-three years when I have my children, and
then go back to software.

Many women software professionals using later stage programming languages

argued that teaching was not a ‘satisfying’ occupation as it is not creative or challenging.

They believed that web designing or coding was more creative as it involved using logic.

In fact, the respondents believed that teaching was very boring, repetitive and sedentary.

Some respondents went as far as to say that teaching ‘does not involve using the brain.’

Expressing their opinion, two coders said:

Teaching is a good job for the society. I worked as a teacher for some
time. I felt that I was doing a good job for the society, but at the end of the
day I felt that I was more important. I was not satisfied. I wanted to do

145
something more creative or something in which I could use my brain.
Teaching after a time becomes sedentary. It becomes repetitive because
after some time you know by heart what you have to teach, be it at the
school or college level. Even if the syllabus changes, it does not change
that much. Maybe people feel a lot of satisfaction in teaching, but I do not.

….I am not fond of teaching at all. I want to do work that is not only
creative, but uses the brain all the time, more logic based. My work is
more fun as teaching is repetitive and monotonous over the years as the
course curriculum is always the same.

Only one software professional using later stage programming languages said that

she wanted to pursue teaching later in her life so she could devote more time to her

family and children. However, she believed that teaching as a profession had a set of

problems such as boredom and no opportunities for occupational advancement. On being

asked what she thought about female-dominated occupations she said:

Teaching is fine, but I do not like it. Teaching does not get much respect,
though it is good for married women, as you have time for both your
family and your job. It will be better if you are in a good family where you
get 100% support, and you do not have to do much housework. The other
option is that you get into an easy job such as teaching so you can look
after the family. Maybe after marriage, I might like to get into a
professional college as a lecturer. My parents have always wanted me to
join college as a teacher. But in teaching, there is no personal growth. It is
only theoretical knowledge nothing practical.

Only one software professional had previous teaching experience. The CEO of the

Indian company had held a visiting teaching position at a management institute in the

past. However, she said that she did not like to teach as she ‘got bored of giving the same

explanations and examples again and again.’

Conclusion

146
On the basis of the findings, we can argue that the jobs that involve the use of

early stage programming languages are ranked higher in the job queue. One of the key

reasons behind this ranking is the skilled nature of these jobs in comparison to those that

involve the use of later stage programming languages. These findings are supported by

the skill-training life-cycles that hypothesizes that early stages of technology are highly

skilled and later stages lead to subdivision of multifaceted tasks into narrowly defined

assignments. The research also found that women were employed in higher numbers in

jobs that involved the use of late stage programming languages as compared to early

stage. This finding is supported by Reskin and Roos that women are more likely to fill

positions that are ranked lower in the job queue.

In addition, the analysis of the results clearly shows that women software

professionals perceive their jobs as more desirable as compared to teaching. This despite

the fact that most women are segregated within the software industry in low skilled and

low paying jobs. As pointed out earlier, Reskin and Roos had also hypothesized that

women prefer jobs that men have rejected for greener pastures because these jobs are

preferable to most female occupations. Thus women prefer jobs that are ranked lower in

the job queue in the software industry to traditional female occupations such as teaching.

They prefer working in the software industry to teaching even though they acknowledge

that teaching has some rewards that are not available to them such as shorter working

hours, more time for the family and children and holidays.

147
Chapter Seven
Skill-Training Experiences of Female Software Workers

Skill- training of women software professionals occurs at three levels – formal

education, training at technical institutes, and job training. The kind of skill-training

acquired influences the job opportunities available to women software professionals. The

first section of the chapter discusses the educational background of female software

professionals in India. This includes both formal education and training at technical

institutes. The last section of the chapter discusses the job training experiences of women

software professionals.

Educational Background

Educational background plays an important role in influencing the opportunities

available to the software professionals. Women software professionals, who had an

undergraduate39 engineering degree, appear to be in an advantageous position in the job

market as compared to those who did not have the degree. This is particularly the case in

India as the society places a lot of emphasis on education, especially the study of

Mathematics and Sciences; and, persons skilled in these subjects are provided higher

status40. In fact, it appears that those with an engineering degree are regarded as more

competent in the industry.

39
For this study, I have used the terminology that is used in the US. I am referring to a Bachelors degree as
an undergraduate and Masters as a graduate degree. However, in India, a Bachelors degree is referred to as
graduate and Masters as postgraduate degree.
40
The cultural fascination for Mathematics and Sciences can be seen from the fact that there is considerable
pride in the country that the ‘zero’ and the place value system of Arabic numerals were invented in India
(‘We taught the world how to count’).

148
In this study, out of the 27 respondents, only eight had an undergraduate

engineering degree. Six of them were using early stage programming languages. This

included five programmers and the systems analyst. Two women engineers working as

coders used later stage programming languages.

Educational Qualifications of Women Software Professionals Using Early Stage


Programming Languages
Out of ten software professionals using early stage programming languages, only

six had an undergraduate engineering degree. This included the systems analyst and five

programmers. None of the software professionals with an engineering degree had any

additional qualification such as a computer diploma, or certification course, or a graduate

degree.

Among the three programmers who did not have an undergraduate engineering

degree, two had completed a Masters in Computer Application (MCA41). One

programmer had done a graduate diploma in computer science42, and she was also

pursuing an MCA (See Table 7.1). This suggests that an engineering degree provides an

edge in acquiring a more technically challenging job. Moreover, the only route to break

the glass ceiling available to those who do not have an undergraduate engineering degree

is to do a graduate degree in computer science such as an MCA. The only non-technical

professional using early stage programming language had studied commerce at the

undergraduate level and completed an MBA.

41
MCA is a graduate degree, and is offered to those who do not have an undergraduate engineering degree.
42
Private teaching institutes offer different types of diplomas in computer science, ranging from six months
to two years.

149
Table 7.1: Educational Qualification of Professionals Using Early Stage Langs.

Name Occupation Undergraduate Graduate Additional

Degree Degree Qualification


Sarita Systems Analyst BE in Electrical None None

Engineering
Indrani Programmer Bachelors in Information None None

Tech.
Monica Programmer BE in Computer Science None None
Niharika Programmer Bachelors in Information None None

Tech.
Shirina Programmer Btech in Comupter None None

Science
Ritika Programmer Btech in Comupter43 None None

Science
Nishita Programmer BSC in Electronics MCA None
Milli Programmer Bachelors in commerce MCA None
Shalini Programmer BA in English Enrolled in Diploma in

MCA computer

science
Sucharu Non-technical Bachelors in Economics MBA None

43
In India, engineering colleges provide both bachelors in engineering and bachelors in technology
degrees. The name of the degree varies upon the name of the institution from which it is acquired. For
example, a student graduating from IIT gets a BTech degree, whereas a student graduating from Roorkee
College of Engineering (which is ranked number two in India) gets a BE degree.

150
Educational Qualification of Women Software Professionals Using Later Stage
Programming Languages
Women software professionals using later stage programming languages had

varied educational degrees, especially at the undergraduate level. The

commerce/business44 stream was found to be the most popular degree at the

undergraduate level. In comparison to women using early stage languages, they had

graduate degrees and other additional qualifications such as diplomas in computer

science. A comprehensive analysis of the educational background is given below.

Out of the seventeen women software professionals using later stage

programming language, only two coders had an undergraduate engineering degree.

However, they did not have any additional qualifications. Six software professionals

using later stage programming languages had an undergraduate degree in

commerce/business, and they were all working as coders. Among others, three had a

Bachelor’s Degree in Science; four had completed Bachelor’s in Arts. Additionally, one

had studied graphic design at the undergraduate level. Out of seventeen women software

professionals using later stage programming language, five had a graduate degree and

three others were pursuing a graduate degree at the time of the study. Among the coders,

seven had done a diploma in computer science (See Table 7.2).

Among the non-technical professionals using later stage programming languages

none had an engineering or computer science background. However, despite this lack of

technical education, they were well versed with most of the technologies used in their

companies. Virtually all pointed out that had learned them on the job.

44
At the undergraduate level, the degree is popularly known as BCom.

151
Table 7.2: Educational Qualification of Professionals Using Later Stage Lang.

Name Undergraduate Occup Graduate Additional

Degree Degree Qualification


Maitrayee Btech in Electronics Coder None None
Mekhla BE in Electronics Coder None None
Meena BCom Coder MCom Diploma in German
Krishna BCom Coder Pursuing None

MA in

English
Malika BSC in Math Coder None Diploma in electronics
Neela BA Pass Coder MA in Diploma in computers

French
Sheela BSC Coder None Diploma in computers
Ayesha Bachelors in Graphic Coder None None

Designing
Preeya BCom Coder None None
Sudha BCom Coder None Diploma in computers
Divya BSc Coder None Diploma in computers
Swati BCom Coder Pursuing Diploma in computers

MBA
Manjula BCom Coder None Diploma in computers

152
Table 7.2: Educational Qualification (Contd)

Name Occup Undergraduat Graduate Degree Additional

e Qualification

Degree
Aprajita Non-tech BA in English MA in English None
Aishwarya Non-tech BA in MBA None

Statistics
Vishaka Non-tech BA in English Doing MA in None

English
Yukti Non-tech BA in English MA in English Diploma in

Journalism

The Role of Math and Physics in Educational Choices

Engineering Degree and Liking Math and Physics

An analysis of the transcripts shows that liking Math and Physics as subjects was

important for opting for an engineering degree. Excelling in these subjects at the school

level provided the strong foundation needed to compete in the rigorous and competitive

entrance tests for engineering colleges. All the women software professionals using early

stage programming languages said that they liked studying Math in school. However, two

pointed out that they did not like studying Physics as ‘it was difficult.’ This included one

programmer and the non-technical professionals. “We felt that since it was a computer

science degree, Physics was a real burden,” said the programmer. The software

professionals believed that Math and Physics provided them with an edge that they

needed to pursue an engineering degree. One interviewee explained:

153
I was extremely comfortable with Math and Physics. This was one of the
reasons why I opted for engineering. When I went to college, it was very
rare for women to study engineering degree. A lot of people used to ask
why do you want to study engineering. They used to feel jealous, but we
used to get praise also as we were very few women who had got through a
good engineering college. I really enjoyed that period.

Non-engineering Degree and not Liking Math and Physics

About half of women software professionals using later stage programming

languages did not like studying Math and Physics. Out of seventeen professionals, nine

said they hated studying Math and Physics. However, the two coders with an engineering

degree liked both the subjects. Most professionals who studied commerce in college had

to study Math at the college level. In fact, some of them decided to do a pass course in

commerce as Mathematics was compulsory for an honors degree.45 Amongst the four

non-technical professionals, only one liked Math and one liked Physics. As one

interviewee, explained her fear of Math:

Oh, my god….. I was neither good or bad, I was an average student, but I
felt that it should have been taught to us in a different manner. We should
not have been scared or frightened of Math. In fact, Math for me was a
psychological issue. Every time before the exam I used to fall ill. I would
start running high temperature. I was average in Physics. I never wanted to
pursue it.

Working in the IT industry seemed to have changed their perception about the

importance of the two subjects. Many interviewees pointed out that their fear of Math in

school was completely unfounded. In fact, they expressed a desire to study the subject

again. “I like logic. I wish I could go back to school and do it all over again.” They also

believed that the subjects were important, especially when working in the IT industry.
45
In India at the undergraduate level, a student has a choice of doing a Pass course or an honors degree. An
honors degree is more valued as it is more comprehensive and rigorous. For example, a student doing
Bachelors in Commerce (hons) in University of Delhi has to study Mathematics, whereas in pass course a
student does not need to study the subject.

154
When I used to study things such as calculus, I used to think how and
where in the world it will help me, but it does come into use. You notice
now being in this field, it is helpful. We used to say that it is useless. But
no it is not, you do get to utilize it.

Reasons for Choosing Engineering as a Field of Study

Engineering Choice and Sense of Security

After finishing high school, many respondents were slightly unsure about their

future prospects. However, those that chose to study engineering, irrespective of the kind

of programming language used reported that it provided them with a sense of security

about their careers. They believed that it would be easy for them to get a job if they had

an engineering degree. In India, a lot of emphasis is placed on studying for a

“professional” degree (example, engineering or medicine) as opposed to a Bachelors in

Arts or Sciences because it provides better job prospects in a tight labor market.

On being asked why they chose engineering as a field of study, the interviewees

pointed out that it provided them with a sense of security about their future career.

Explaining the reasons for studying engineering, Indrani, a software programmer, said:

After you finish class XII, you have a feeling of insecurity. Therefore you
want to get hold of a professional degree instead of doing a normal
Bachelors course such as Chemistry (Hons). It gives you a sense of
security that after four year years I will be having a job in hand. If I want
to go for further studies now that is my own choice. After class XII, you
are thinking what you want to do, if you do graduation after XII then again
you are faced with decisions about what you want to do. If you get hold of
a professional degree then your line is fixed.

The respondents further added that they studied computer science amongst all

fields in engineering because it was one of the most sought after fields when they went to

college because the computer industry was booming around the globe. “I choose to study

155
computer science as it was very highly paid field at that time. It was at a peak amongst all

other engineering fields.”

Engineering Choice and Presence of Engineer

As pointed out earlier, family, culture, upbringing, and especially the presence of

an engineer father or brother play an important role in women choosing engineering as a

profession (Carter and Kirkup, 1990). The findings from this study are consistent in that

the presence of an engineer in the family was found to play an important role in a

woman’s decision to study engineering. Respondents, whose father’s were also

engineers, pointed out that their father’s encouraged and motivated them to study

engineering. In addition, their father’s also taught them at home to provide a solid

foundation in subjects such as Math and Physics.

Out of eight interviewees, who had an engineering degree, four believed that the

presence of an engineer in the family, especially their father, affected their decision to

study engineering. As two interviewees put it:

My father is an engineer. My younger brother is studying engineering. My


father’s presence influenced my career choice. Since we were kids, I used
to say that I would become an engineer. Our father provided us support, he
helped us strengthen our concepts. We never went for tuitions. He taught
us instead….He provided us guidance.

My father encouraged us a lot in our studies and career. We are three


sisters so he always wanted us to be different, to study and excel. When he
thought that I was more interested in math, he encouraged me to study
engineering. He took me to his office where he was working as an
engineer. I saw the kind of work he did, and I thought that I wanted to do
something similar.

156
Reasons for Choosing Non-engineering Field

Non-engineering Choice and Lack of Guidance

The interviewees working in technical capacities – programmers and coders, who

did not have an engineering degree irrespective of the programming language used at

work felt constrained in the computer industry by the lack of an engineering degree. They

said that they were unable to pursue an engineering degree because they did not have

proper guidance or were unable to clear the entrance examinations. As Malika, a coder,

pointed out, “I was not aware of many things. Since I am the eldest child, my parents did

not have much idea about my career so I choose an institute randomly rather than go for

an engineering degree.” However, the non-technical professionals did not believe that not

having an engineering degree had an effect on their career.

Explaining why she did not pursue an engineering degree, Nishita, a software

engineer said:

I had plans for pursuing a BTech46, but I did not get the right branch in
engineering so instead of reattempting after one year, I thought a Masters
degree would be a better idea. That way I could achieve two things. I
could get a specialization in electronics and a Masters in computers.

Non-engineering Choice and Interest in Management

As pointed out earlier, the commerce/business stream appeared to be a very

popular educational choice among the women software professionals using later stage

programming languages. Many of the respondents studied commerce due to their interest

in pursuing a management degree. The interviewees pointed out that they studied

commerce as they liked subjects such as commerce, finance, accounting etc. However,

when they did a course in computers, they liked it so much that they decided to pursue it
46
B Tech is equivalent to Bachelor of Science in Computers in the US.

157
as a career. As two interviewees said,

I always wanted to go into the management stream…. Due to this interest,


I opted for BCom (hons). Due to some personal reasons, I was unable to
go out of the home to do coaching for an MBA so I was unable to clear the
entrance examination. I then did a diploma course in computers while
doing graduation and that interested me in computers so I gave the
entrance exam for MCA.

I was a commerce student in school. I was not into pure sciences so I


decided to continue with commerce in college. I thought this would keep
my options open rather than studying arts. In school, I liked commerce—
accounts etc so I continued with commerce. Meanwhile, I joined a small
computer course and since I liked it I kept extending for three years.

Non-engineering Degree and Parental Pressure

Interestingly, some women software professionals using later stage programming

languages pointed out that they studied commerce and then moved on to computer

science because their parents wanted them to do so. It should be noted that in India,

studying commerce became very popular during the early 1990's. However, when the

computer industry boomed during the late 1990s and jobs in the IT industry increased,

many students shifted to studying computers. Parents put pressure on their daughters to

study commerce as they thought that they would be able to get jobs after finishing the

degree. As one interviewee explained:

I was not interested in computers or commerce either. I decided to


study commerce because I was not independent enough to make
my own decisions. I just did what was suggested to me by my
parents. They thought that the commerce line was good for a girl,
and everyone was studying commerce at that time. They think that
the computer line is also okay for a girl as it is a desk job.

158
Limitations at Work Due To Having a Non-engineering Degree

As pointed out earlier, respondents without an engineering degree irrespective of

the programming language used felt the lack of the degree restricted their choices in the

job market. For example, out of eleven coders who did not have an undergraduate

engineering degree, six believed that not having the degree limited their opportunities for

advancement in the jobs. Many of them were working towards a graduate degree in

computer science or wanted to do it in order to overcome this shortcoming. They

believed that although they were as competent as engineers, they were discriminated at

their jobs because of this deficiency. As Malika explained:

Yes, our opportunities are limited. Therefore, I am doing a BE in


electronics and communication. My five papers are left, so hopefully I will
complete my degree. First, if you have a BE degree, you enter an
organization at a different level. If you just have a diploma, then a
different level is assigned to you. There are differences in salary. Even if
you are working at the same level as an engineer, less opportunities will be
given to you. Your bosses think that you are not intelligent. They think
you are not competent and efficient. They think about you in a negative
manner.

The biggest hurdle faced by non-engineers was that big software companies were

unwilling to hire them or even call them for an interview. Thus they were confined to

working in smaller companies,where the salary was less and working conditions and

benefits were not at par with the bigger companies. For example, one coder, pointed out,

Most top firms – their basic requirement is that you must have an
engineering degree. Maybe they might consider you because you have
work experience or they might call you for an interview because someone
knows you. The first block is if you do not have a BE or BTech degree,
they won’t even you call you for an interview.

The only avenue for those without an engineering degree to overcome the

shortcoming in their education was to do an MCA. Among women software professionals

159
using early stage programming languages, who did not have an engineering degree, two

had finished an MCA, and one was studying towards the degree at the time of the

interview. “Most of the reputed companies go for BE or MCA. That is why I joined this

MCA course just to overcome the deficiency in my education. I applied once at Infosys.

They send me an email saying that I must first complete my MCA and then apply for a

job.”

However, women working in non-technical capacities did not believe that a lack

of an engineering degree hindered them in any way, even though they were expected to

be technically proficient. For example, Sucharu, elaborated:

It is not necessary that I need an engineering background… I do not need


to know core technical stuff. I have to have some kind of technical
knowledge, but that comes with experience.

Effect of Educational Background on College Experiences

Women software professionals using different stage of programming languages at

work had different college experiences. This was primarily because women software

professionals using later stage programming languages had studied mostly in an all girls

college, or coeducational colleges with a large female student population. In comparison,

those who were using early stage programming languages studied in engineering colleges

where there were only a handful of female students. Most women software professionals

using later stage programming languages had pleasant college memories. They believed

that their gender did not affect their college experience. As put by one worker, “I had fun

in college. I never studied. Our gender did not matter.”

160
However as most women using early stage programming languages studied in

colleges where girls were few in numbers they tended to have a limited number of friends

during their college years. As put by one engineer, “We were only three girls, out of a

class of twenty. This meant that we had a very restricted number of friends. You had to

be friendly to these girls. You had to share your experiences, and work with them.” They

were sometimes harassed by their male peers as they were a minority in number. As

Shirina, an engineer, pointed out:

I had a hard time in college because we were four girls out of a class of
thirty. The ragging in first year was horrible. We used to be sitting in the
class, concentrating on our studies, and guys used to throw chalk at us. It
was really embarrassing, and frustrating.

Staying late was a problem in college also. Many female students did not avail of

the laboratory facilities provided to them at the college because they did not want to stay

late. As one interviewee explained:

Sometimes you cannot stay late at college. If you are supposed to do an


assignment which involves staying late in college, you will be one of the
first people to buy a PC at home. During exam time, you have a lot of
pressure in completing assignments that require staying late in college
labs. This was one of the reason why I bought a PC.

While some engineering students believed that teachers were nicer to female

students as they thought that they were more sincere, most pointed out that teachers had

certain negative stereotypes about girls studying engineering. As Nishita pointed out:

Some of the colleagues and teachers had the impression that girls take up
science only because they feel like or are influenced by their parents.
Secondly, they do not attribute as much intelligence in us as they do in
boys. The fact that I came first throughout my college was always
questioned. People always raised their eyebrows.

161
Desire For Further Studies

Most respondents, irrespective of the programming language used, wanted to

study further. Future education held a promise of exciting new job opportunities, an

increasing knowledge base and diversifying into a new field. Out of twenty-seven

interviewees only three did not want to study further. Out of ten women software

professionals using early stage programming languages, six wanted to study further.

They wanted to study for a graduate degree in computer science such as a Masters in

Computer Application or a Masters in Technology or an MBA. The interviewees who

wanted to study computer science believed that a graduate degree would give them a

competitive edge in a tight job market. “I want to do M.Tech. I do not think that a

Bachelors can make me move forward,” explained one programmer.

The women software professionals using early stage programming languages

believed that a Master’s degree would not only work to their advantage in finding new

and better jobs, but it would also help in moving up the occupational ladder in the

company. Software programmers pointed out that they have to be abreast with the latest

technologies, and a graduate degree can help them increase their knowledge base. As

Ritika explained:

I plan to go for an MS... I feel I need to study more because when I was
doing my B.Tech. my understanding of the subject was very less. I have
covered a lot in the last five years. If I read about a concept right now, I
am able to implement it, which I was not able to do while as a student.

The interviewees pointed out that they wanted to pursue an MBA degree as they

wanted to get into the management side in the near future. The only systems analyst in

the study also wanted to do an MBA as she thought that a formal training in management

162
might be helpful for her as her work involved management of software projects and team

members.

Most women software professionals using later stage programming languages

also wanted to study further, but they had very varied interests. Out of twelve coders

asked the question about further studies47, only two did not want to study further. Two

wanted to do an MBA, and three wanted to pursue an MCA. The two coders with an

engineering degree wanted to study computer science further. One wanted to do a

diploma in networking and the other wanted to do an MTech degree. Of the remainder,

one wanted to do a diploma in electronics; one wanted to do a graduate degree in graphic

designing; and, one wanted to pursue wildlife studies. None of the non-technical

professionals using later stage programming languages expressed any desire to pursue

further studies in computer science. Apart from the CEO, who did not want to study

further, all wanted to pursue a degree in their own field.

The interviewees who said they wanted to do an MCA hoped the degree would

open new opportunities for them as not having a formal engineering/ computer science

degree was a major obstacle to them securing more technically challenging and higher

paid jobs. Explaining her reasons for wanting to do an MCA, Manjula, a coder said:

I have a commerce degree. It is a stumbling block in me getting a


good job in a software company. If you do not have a B.E. or
B.Tech., you are required to have a Post Graduate degree in
computer science.

As pointed out earlier, two coders pointed out that they wished to pursue an MBA

degree. The two respondents wanted to pursue an MBA degree due to interest in the

subject. Both of them had an undergraduate commerce degree. The two engineers

47
I was unable to get the response of one coder on this question as the interview was terminated before it
could be completed by her supervisor.

163
working as coders wanted to study computer science further as they did not like the kind

of work they were doing, and thought another degree will help them get a job as a

software programmer. As put by one of these workers:

I have completed CISCO certification for network associate. Next, I will


be going for Solaris administration. This is the second level of training for
networking. I am really interested in networking. I am doing it to upgrade
myself and keep me updated because I did not see any personal growth
within the company, especially in my job.

Interestingly, only one coder wanted to quit the field of computers, and move on

to the field of wildlife studies. As pointed out earlier, she explained that her parents had

forced her to move into the field of computer science, although she was not interested.

She pointed out:

I want to do my PhD in wildlife conservation. When I go to websites, I see


the jobs that are available in the field area, not the desk jobs. They ask for
PhDs in wildlife conservation. I do not have that training. This has always
been my first priority. It is just that after college, I was not that
independent that I could make my decision. I just did what was suggested
to me by my parents. I thought that I would establish myself first in the
field of computer science and then make the shift. I am independent
enough to make a decision now.

Effect of Education on the Future

Most respondents, irrespective of the programming language used, who wished to

study further believed that their future job prospects would be affected by whether they

would be able to acquire higher education. The female software workers who wanted to

pursue an MBA, hoped that the degree would help them move into a management job. “I

hope I am in a management position in five years from now. Not at a very senior level,

but maybe a senior consultant engineer,” said Monica, a software programmer.

164
The women software professionals wanting to pursue an MCA hoped that the

degree would give them the kind of break that they were looking for in the computer

industry. “I hope I get a programming job, and become a team leader in the near future,”

said one coder. Others believed that a graduate degree would help them in doing path-

breaking research in computers. “I hope I will be doing more in-depth development work.

We get so many opportunities so hopefully, I will be pulling up some new technologies,”

said Krishna.

Many respondents expressed the desire of starting their own companies after

finishing their higher studies. Said one Coder:

I want to start my own studio, and I hope it is working well. I don’t expect
to have a really big company, just a small company that is just doing well.
I will be happy doing what I do right now. I do not want to lead a team of
people as I am happy doing the kind of work that I am doing right now
because I am satisfied with my work. I want to be in the same position, but
with bit more money.

Job Training

Work experience is a critical part of the skill-training experience of women

software professionals. On being asked how they learned the skills required for their

work, most respondents, irrespective of the kind of programming language used believed

that training on the job was crucial, although educational institutions provided a basic

foundation. As two interviewees explained:

I learned the basic skills in college. We were taught programming and the
basics of programming languages. But then there are several concepts that
we need to know while actually making a professional software. This you
learn on your job….. We know basic tools, but there are always new
things that are added to Java, new libraries, if you need them you have to
study them here. But if you know the basics, grasping is very easy. It is a
part of our job so it is nothing that we have to do extra.

165
I did a six month intensive training course at Self-combat. It is a web
designing institution. After completing my training, I worked there for 1 ½
yrs then I came here. Creativity comes through practice. Institutes just
provide guidance.

Six companies in the study provided training courses to the employees. As one of

the respondents working with the American MNC explained:

Yes, we have several in-house training programs organized every month.


There is a training calendar that is posted every month on our Intranet
wherein we are provided information about technical training being
conducted by people both from outside and within the company. Our
manager approves the training, and then we can attend it. We have several
extracurricular training also such as art of living classes – yoga and all.
We also have employeeship training, where they teach us what it means to
be the employee of this company.

Interestingly, the Indian company, specializing in hardware, provided training

only to the male engineers working at customer sites, and did not provide training to the

female employees, who provided technical assistance over the telephone. Said one female

engineer, ‘Sometimes, the company provides training, but it is only for field engineers. It

is not for girls who sit in the office.’

All the non-technical professionals – two MBAs and three correspondents -- as

part of job training learned programming languages, although it was not formally part of

their work profile. They pointed out that they picked up languages at work in order to

make their work easy.

I do technical work myself in order to ensure that my work gets done on


time. If my content is being held up only due to technology…. Because
the content has to be fed, and program has to run it, so I learn how to run
the program. So whenever I finish the article, I upload it myself on the

166
website rather than wait for someone. My ultimate aim is that whatever I
am supposed to do is done on time. So whatever hurdles have come, I
have learned to improve or resolve them even if it means learning some
programming language.

Conclusion

The analysis of the data clearly shows that the majority of the women software

professionals do not have an engineering degree, and instead, studied for a diploma in

computer in community/polytechnic colleges or for-profit private institutes. According to

the skill training and technology life cycle, education of technologies at the later stages in

the life-cycle is more dispersed, and easily available. The analysis of data showed that

majority of the female software professionals, specifically coders, were using

technologies that had developed in the later stages of the software technology life-cycle,

and training in these technologies is provided at community/polytechnic colleges or for-

profit private institutes. We can also see that the shape of the labor queue has also

changed as the number of women entering the software industry is increasing because the

training is widely dispersed. Women are able to enter the computer industry without

acquiring a formal computer engineering degree. However, this has contributed to gender

segregation within the software industry as the majority of women are able to acquire

only those jobs that are ranked low in the occupational hierarchy.

167
Chapter Eight
Discussion and Conclusions

Over the last decade, an increasing number of women have joined the software

industry in India. Most women in India still work in female-dominated occupations such

as teaching and nursing. However, the rapid growth of the software industry in India

since the early 1990s has provided women with opportunities that were not available to

them earlier. Many women have acquired computer training in private for-profit

institutes, and started working in the software industry. The number of women studying

engineering has also increased over the years.48 Women comprise about 12 percent of the

labor force in the IT industry. However, this study suggests that within the software

industry women are concentrated in jobs that are ranked lower in the job queue – jobs

using programming languages that have developed at later stages of the software

technology life cycle. The primary objective of this chapter is to inductively construct

elements of a theoretical model of the dual queue and technology and skill-training life-

cycle theory that explains the effect of skill training and technology life cycle on the

structural properties of the queues, specifically the ranking of jobs in the job queue and

shape of the labor queue.

The Effect of Skill Training Life-cycle on Ranking of Occupations in the Job Queue

As I wrote in Chapter Three, Reskin and Roos (1990) reformulated the theory of

labor and job queues to explain women’s inroads into previously male-dominated

occupations. The two theorists posit that workers rank jobs in job queues in terms of their
48
Currently, only three percent of men and one percent of women in India have a college education.
Therefore, women comprise 33 percent of the total student population in colleges and universities. This sex
ratio is found for most fields of study except (1) engineering and commerce – where women account for a
much smaller proportion of students, (2) education – where women account for 50 percent of the students.
http://www.census.gov/ipc/prod/wid-9801.pdf

168
attractiveness, and employers rank workers in terms of their attractiveness. Reskin and

Roos point out technological change that elaborates the division of labor, deskilled work

or altered working conditions sets the stage for occupational decline. This leads to men’s

reranking of occupations in the job queue, providing women with opportunities to fill the

deskilled positions. According to them, the computer industry provides an example of

technological change altering an occupation’s sex composition. However, the queue

theory as given by Reskin and Roos provides a static analysis of the link between

technological change and reranking of occupations in the job queue. It does not answer

the question: when does technological change occur?

Economists have pointed out that a technology has a life cycle that provides the

stimulus for changes in the product and production process. A new technology is

introduced slowly at first. It becomes more widely accepted as research leads to better

performance. Eventually, it plateaus as it reaches it performance limit, and is replaced by

a superior technology (Ford and Ryan, 1981: Shanklin and Ryans, 1984). Along with the

technology life cycle, a skill-training life cycle also evolves. The early stages of a

technology are relatively skill and labor intensive. However, as technologies mature,

standardization leads to subdivision of multifaceted tasks into more narrowly defined

assignments (Flynn, 1993).

It is a major contention of the study that reranking of occupations in the job queue

occurs at a later stage in the technology life cycle due to changes in the division of labor

and the deskilling of work. As illustrated in Chapter Four, computer technology has a

technology and skill-training life cycle. Computers were introduced in the 1940s to

satisfy wartime needs. The early/first generation computers were clumsy machines. They

169
had no operating systems, and highly skilled programmers were required to operate them

because one had to rewire the circuits each time to run a program. On the other hand,

operating the second generation computers was less painstaking because the instructions

to operate the machines were stored in the machine’s memory along with the data to

operate them (Kraft, 1977, Greenbaum, 1979, Donato, 1994).

Along with changes in the hardware, computer software technology has also

evolved. As computer software technology has matured, there has been a trend towards

job fragmentation and deskilling (Kraft, 1977). The early generation languages – first,

second and third – are highly skilled as a programmer needs to specify how a particular

function has to be performed. However, the later – fourth -- generation languages are

deskilled as the programmer says what needs to be done rather than how to do it

(Computer Languages, 2002).

According to Reskin and Roos, workers try to maximize income, social standing,

autonomy, job standing and chances of occupational advancement. They rank jobs on the

basis of the characteristics accordingly. The analysis of the data found that occupations

that involve the use of later stage programming languages are ranked lower in the job

queues, and those involving the use of early stage programming languages are ranked

higher in the job queues. On average, women software professionals using early stage

programming languages earned Rs 10,000 ($200) more than those using later stage

programming languages, although they had the same number of years of experience.

Despite this most women using later stage programming languages were satisfied with

their salary.

170
As hypothesized by the skill training life cycle theory, the work of women

software professionals using early languages was highly skilled and multifaceted. The

systems analyst was in-charge of an entire team. The programmers were involved in the

development of the software at various stages of the technology life cycle. The work of

women software professionals using later stage programming languages, particularly the

coders, was more narrowly defined. For example, the coders were only responsible for

making and maintaining websites. The research did not find wide differences between

women software professionals using programming languages that were developed at

different stages of the technology life cycle regarding autonomy, chances of occupational

advancement, and opportunities for job rotation and working in teams.

The study had asked all the respondents where they believed that their job fit in

the occupational hierarchy in the company because Reskin and Roos point out that

workers rank occupations in the job queue in terms of their attractiveness. The data found

that there was a correlation between ranking of jobs in the occupational hierarchy and

numbers of years of work experience among women software professionals using early

stage languages. However, women software professionals using later stage languages said

that their jobs were ranked high in the occupational hierarchy even when they had few

months of experience.

It can be concluded from the data that women working in higher status

occupations have a different logic for evaluating their jobs in the job queue to women in

low status occupations. Women in high status occupations have more objective criteria

for assessing their status in the job queue. For example, they believe that status is

correlated to the number of years of experience. It is my belief that women working in

171
low status occupations have a higher self-perception about their jobs as they believed that

their job was highly skilled. Indian society places a lot of emphasis on the study of

Science and Math, and those who excel in these subjects or do ‘technical’ work are

awarded higher status in society. Coding also provides women software professionals

with avenues such as opportunities for occupational advancement, autonomy and team

work that might not have been available to them. A popular career choice for women in

India is teaching which does not provide these benefits. Coding is also a good option for

some of the women as there are not many job opportunities available to women with only

an undergraduate degree in commerce or arts. As I showed in Chapter 7, out of seventeen

women software professionals working in jobs that involved the use of later stage

programming languages, fifteen had a bachelor’s degree in arts or commerce.

The declining rewards in jobs that involve the use of later stage programming

languages make them unattractive to men. This means that employers are unable to find

qualified men to fill the positions. They often turn to women for whom jobs in the

software industry represent a step up compared to other choices available to them such as

teaching. The study found that women are highly represented in jobs that involve the use

of later stage programming languages. Most coders and non-technical professionals said

that within their companies either women were a majority or there was an equal mix of

men and women in their kind of jobs. In contrast, all women software professionals using

early stage programming languages said that their peers were predominantly men.

An interesting finding of the study was that women professionals working in non-

technical capacities were also proficient in programming languages. Most of them had

learned these languages on the job. The salary of non-technical professionals ($500 per

172
month) was almost twice that of coders ($240). This shows that one of the avenues

available to women coders was to move into management or editing if they are working

for infotainment companies. However, most coders had high estimation of their jobs as

compared to the non-technical professionals as their work was more technical in nature.

They believed that their work was highly ‘creative and challenging.’

As I had pointed out in Chapter Four, job growth in occupations has led to

changes in the job queue in India. Job growth supports feminization as it can lead to a

shortfall of male workers. Employment in the Indian software industry expanded during

the last ten years. In 1996, it was estimated that there were 140,000 software

professionals in India. By 2000, the number of software professionals rose to 410,000.

Due to outsourcing of software work to India, there has been a dramatic increase in the

number of software professionals in India in the recent years. According to NASSCOM,

the Indian software industry employed 770,000 software professionals in 2003. However,

not all the jobs that are created are highly skilled. In the1990s, the work that was

outsourced to India was neither technologically advanced nor critical to firms who

outsourced it (Arora et al., 1990). Although there is a shift from this trend, much of the

work being outsourced to India is still not highly skilled. Women have benefited from the

expansion in the software industry as rapid growth has exhausted the supply of trained

workers from the preferred group – men.

Reskin and Roos (1990) point that the job queue changes more rapidly in high-

turnover occupations. As I pointed in Chapter Four, in the 1990s, due to the IT boom in

the US, the labor turnover in the software industry was very high due to outmigration of

skilled workers, particularly to the US. The US government has decreased the number of

173
H1B visas issued to Indians from 195,000 in 2000 to 65,000 in 2003. The number of

software professionals migrating to the US annually has decreased, but the numbers are

still high (NASSCOM, 2004).

According to Reskin and Roos (1990), occupations that witness a shortage of

male workers experience a deterioration of rewards and working conditions. This leads to

the reranking of the occupation in the job queue, ultimately leading to rapid feminization

of the occupation. This research supports this proposition. As I pointed out in chapter Six,

occupations that involve the use of later stage programming languages are female

dominated, and are lower paid and deskilled.

In summary, we can argue that technological change remitting from the skill-

training life cycle has led to an increased division of labor, and the deskilling of jobs

involving the use of later stage programming languages within the software industry.

Therefore the jobs that involve the use of later stage programming languages are ranked

lower in the job queue because they are deskilled and have low salary. These findings

allow for the inductive construction of the following testable hypothesis:

• H1: Programming jobs that employ technologies that are in the early stages of

their life cycle will be highly skilled, and ranked higher in the job queue

On the other hand, the jobs that involve the use of early stage programming languages

are highly skilled. As a result, they are better paid and have better working condition.

This is turn means that they are ranked higher in the job queue. This brings us to the next

testable hypothesis:

• H2: Programming jobs that employ technologies that are in the later stages of

their life cycle will be deskilled, and ranked lower in the job queue.

174
Since jobs that involve the use of early stage programming languages will be

ranked higher in the job queue, the preferred group in the labor queue will fill these

positions. As employers rank men higher than women in the labor queue men are

more likely to be employed in jobs that involve the use of early stage programming

languages. This leads us to our next testable hypothesis:

• H3: Programming jobs that employ technologies that are in the early stages of

their life cycle will be male-typed.

Men rank jobs involving the use of later stage programming language lower in

the job queue because of declining rewards such as salary and the nature of work.

Employers are unable to attract and retain enough qualified male employees for these

positions. Thus the employers have turned to women to fill the positions, and such

jobs represent a step up for most women. However, this creates and reinforces gender

segregation within the software industry as women are increasingly being employed

in jobs that involve the use of later stage programming languages. Thus the declining

attractiveness of jobs that involve the use of later stage programming languages has

increased women’s representation in these jobs. In addition, the growth of

occupations in the software industry, particularly those employing later stage

programming languages, high labor turnover, and deterioration of rewards in

occupations employing later stage programming languages have supported the

feminization of these occupations. The preceding findings allow for the inductive

construction of the following testable proposition:

175
• H4: Programming jobs that employ technologies that are in the later stages of

their life cycle will employ a disproportionate number of women.

The Effect of Skill Training Life Cycle on the Labor Queue

Reskin and Roos (1990) believe that colleges and universities helped change the

shape of labor queue as education offered women pathways into previously male

dominated occupations. For example, they point out that the proliferation of real estate

courses in community colleges allowed women to sidestep the requirement that brokers,

almost all men, sponsor would-be sales agent. However, they leave one question

unanswered: At what stage of the technology life cycle will women be able to avail

educational opportunities?

As given in Chapter Three, the skill-training life cycle theory points out that the

availability of skill training and the mix of the institutional providers vary depending

upon the phase of technology. When a technology is new, skill-training is usually

provided on the job through various programs at the workplace. At this stage, scientific

and engineering personnel design and create products, and teach others the skills

associated with the new technology. During the later stage, skill training is shifted to

schools as employers cannot capture the return on investments. As the demand for the

skill matures, training is widely diffused among educational institutions (Flynn, 1993).

The training of computer professionals in the US has been institutionalized in a

three-tiered system: research universities or schools of management, four year

engineering colleges, and two year junior institutions. The junior colleges provide

vocational training; four-year colleges teach students to design and write programs rather

176
than simply code; and, elite institutions train highly skilled programmers who design

entire computer systems or languages (Kraft, 1977; Donato, 1994).

The foregoing discussion is applicable to India also. India also has three kinds of

institutions providing training in computers: research universities such as the IITs that

train highly skilled programmers such as systems analysts, who design entire computer

systems or languages; four year engineering colleges that teach students to design and

write programs; and, for-profit private institutes that provide vocational training in later

stage programming languages.

Women comprise the majority of the student population at vocational training

institutes (Yee, 2000). However, the number of women studying engineering is much

smaller compared to males. This research found that out of 27 respondents, only eight

had an engineering degree. None of the respondents with an engineering degree had any

additional qualifications. Eight respondents had studied for a diploma in computers at

vocational colleges. The women software professionals with a vocational degree were

more likely to work as coders using later stage programming languages at work. Out of

13 coders, seven had a diploma in computers. This clearly shows that the proliferation of

computer courses in vocational colleges has provided women with a pathway into the

software industry.

Cultural changes are also reshaping the labor queue. As Indian society moves into

the 21st century, traditional values about women and their place in the society are being

challenged. Women are increasingly joining the labor force because they have a desire to

work. An increasing number of Indian women believe that work defines their self-

identity. Even parents encourage women to join the labor force, although they prefer if

177
the girls work in ‘traditional’ occupations. The role of mass media is also important as it

no longer portrays the stereotyped image of an Indian woman – a woman who stays at

home and cares for the family. A successful Indian woman is often portrayed as someone

who can juggle both home and work. Thus these cultural changes are increasing the

number of women seeking higher education, and vocational colleges fill the demand of

this ever increasing group.

In fact, women prefer working in the software industry as compared to traditional

female occupations such as teaching. This is the case, even though teaching has benefits

such as shorter working hours and holidays. Most software professionals believe that

working in the software industry allows them to be ‘creative, and independent,’ and

teaching is ‘boring and repetitive.’

In a nutshell, we can argue that educational opportunities are more easily

available to women when a technology has matured, and is deskilled, as training at this

stage is dispersed. This changes the shape of the labor queue as the number of women

acquiring training increases. The shape of the labor queue has changed in India as the

proliferation of for-profit-private institutes has made training in computers easily

accessible to women. In fact, women comprise 50 percent of the student population at

these institutes (Yee, 2000). Women are able to bypass the requirement that is required to

join the software industry – having an engineering degree. This brings us to the following

testable propositions:

• H5: Training for programming occupations will be more diffused in the later

stages of the technology life cycle.

178
• H6: Women are more likely to acquire training in computers at vocational

colleges.

Reskin and Roos (1990) believe that employer’s reranking of sexes in the labor

queue can provide women with opportunities in previously male dominated occupations.

As the data shows some companies like to hire women for desk jobs in the software

industry. For example, I found that one of the Indian hardware giants hired only women

to interact with clients on the telephone, and only men to go to the field. Women were

hired for the positions as they possess ‘people skills.’ The basic rule of economics applies

here: reciprocity between demand and supply. Employers’ increasing need for women for

desirable jobs helped to stimulate their growing availability.

Queue and Life Cycle Theory

In conclusion, we can argue that the employers rank men higher in the job queue

than women in the software industry as men are more likely to have an engineering

degree. Men are also ranked higher as they do not face problems such as staying late in

the office or managing family and work. Occupations that involve the use of early stage

programming languages are ranked higher than those that employ later stage languages as

they are highly rewarded and skilled (see Figure 8.1). The ranking of occupations is

affected by the stage of the programming languages used. Programming languages that

are in the early stage of their life cycle are highly ranked as they are more skilled than

those that are in the latter stage of their life cycle. Women have been able to make

inroads into occupations that involve the use of later stage programming languages as

women and later stage programming languages are ranked lower in the queue. This

179
shows that within the software industry in India gender segregation is being reinforced as

women are being segregated into occupations that involve the use of later stage

programming languages.

Therefore this research has tried to extend the theory of job and labor queues by

making a connection with the technology life cycle model theory. Although Reskin and

Roos discuss the effect of technological change on the shape of job and labor queue, they

provide a static model of analysis. This research shows that the stage of the technology

leads to the changes in the job and labor queues. This study shows that ranking in the job

queue is determined by the stage of the technology as technologies that are in the early

stage of their life cycle are highly skilled and therefore ranked higher. Whereas

technologies that are in the later stage of their life cycle are deskilled and jobs involving

their use are ranked lower in the job queue. This research also shows that the stage of the

technology affects the shape of labor queue as educational opportunities are more

dispersed when the technology is in its later stage. Thus more people are able to acquire

training and join the labor queue.

180
Figure 8.1: Illustration of the Labor and Job Queue in the Software industry

in India

Men Early
Change in nature of tech

Women Late

Women and Computing

As I pointed out in Chapter Three, feminist theorists argue that computer

technology is gendered (Turkle, 1984, 1988, 1990; Perry and Gerber, 1990; Frissen,

1992; Kirkup, 1992). First, the development of computer technology is closely linked

with wartime needs. Second, the manner in which PCs are manufactured and marketed

ensures that computers are gendered. Although the theory of masculine culture argues

that masculinity and technology are intertwined, and technical competence is an integral

part of masculine identity, I did not find evidence that women were afraid of computers

or technology. On the contrary, women software professionals were comfortable working

with computers. They expressed satisfaction with their work, and believed that their work

was better than that of other women working in the company as it was ‘technical.’

However, most respondents who did not study Math or Physics in school pointed out that

unlike men they were not encouraged to study these subjects. The respondents said that

181
they were told that it was ‘not necessary’ for them to study these subjects as they were

women. Therefore, there is some evidence that there is a dialectical relationship between

masculinity and technology. This evidence is further supported by the fact that most

respondents pointed out that men in engineering formed cliques to keep women out of the

inner circles as they believe that masculinity and technology are coterminous. These facts

also support the liberal feminist perspective that women’s potential is distorted by gender

stereotyping. The analysis of the data showed that most women believed that their fear of

Math and Science in school was unfounded. They pointed out that they should not have

been afraid of these subjects as excelling in them would have worked in their benefit in

the software industry.

But most women, irrespective of their educational background, had high career

aspirations. They wanted to study further and move up the occupational ladder. However,

they did acknowledge that they faced problems in their quest that men did not have to

encounter such as managing family and staying late in the office. This highlights the role

of patriarchy in influencing the work experiences of women software professionals.

Women are still disproportionately responsible for housework, despite working outside

the home. Most respondents feared for their safety therefore they did not want to stay late

in the office. This clearly shows that women are still victims of violence. However, the

three theories on gender and technology do not address these issues. Although the theory

of technology as masculine culture, discusses the cultural context of technology, it does

not deal with specific problems that women face on a daily basis because of living in a

patriarchal society.

182
This study found evidence that family, culture, upbringing and especially the

presence of an engineer in the family played an important role in women choosing

engineering as a profession. Out of eight engineers interviewed, four believed that the

presence of an engineer in the family made them choose engineering as a field of study.

The data also shows that when women challenge traditional notions of masculinity such

as studying engineering, they face severe resistance from their male peers. Most women

software professionals with an engineering degree pointed out that males, particularly

their peers in schools, made life difficult for them. This shows that although they might

have the same aspirations as men, women face difficulties when they try and break into

traditionally male-dominated occupations such as engineering.

The study also found evidence that women would like special programs as

espoused by the liberal feminist for women to help them ‘catch up.’ For example, some

respondents pointed out that the government should have quota for women in engineering

colleges to increase their representation. All respondents said that companies should

provide special provisions for women so that they can manage family and work such as

provide day care facilities, ability to telecommute, and transportation for women to go

back home in case they stay late in the office.

Policy Implications

I would like to conclude the dissertation by making some policy implications to

increase the representation of women in the software industry, and ensure that women are

not segregated in low-paying and low skilled occupations. I believe that this objective can

be reached by bringing about change at three levels:

183
(1) Structural: There is a need to bring about structural change as the patriarchal

nature of Indian society influences educational and career choices of men and women. In

Indian society, parents place a lot of pressure on boys to study Math and Physics,

whereas girls are not encouraged to study these subjects. In order to encourage girls to

study Math and Physics, change has to be brought about at the level of family, mass

media and schools. Parents should encourage their daughters also to excel in Math and

Science. Having a strong background in Math and Science is necessary since school

provides a strong foundation that is required to compete in entrance tests to engineering

colleges. Studying engineering provides women software professionals opportunities to

work as systems analyst and programmers. The role of schools and teachers in studying

Math and Physics is also important as girls can be encouraged at this level. Schools

should provide an atmosphere conducive to women for studying subjects that have been

traditionally labeled as ‘male-dominated.’ The schools should make sure that male peers

do not harass girls in engineering colleges. Even teachers need to be sensitized to the

needs of women in engineering.

In order to increase the representation of women in the software industry, Indian

companies should provide facilities to women software professionals to meet their

specific needs. The companies should provide women the option of working from home.

They should provide transportation to women employees if they have to stay late in the

office in order to meet deadlines. The companies should follow a policy of affirmative

action to recruit women. In the US, women’s representation among systems analysts

grew in part because employers were pressured to hire women. For example, IBM

recruited its first female programmers by advertising under Help Wanted in the women’s

184
section of the New York Times (Donato, 1990).

(2) Action/ Agency: Change cannot be brought about without striving for it. Women

should also work towards finding a place in the software industry. They should work

hard, dedicate time and effort to work in order to move up the occupational ladder.

(3) Ideological: There is a need to bring about change in the value systems of the society

regarding education of women, and their place in the labor force and home. In a country

where two-thirds of women are illiterate, there is a need to teach the society that the

education of the girl child is important. There is a need to bring about an ideological shift

in the society regarding the place of women in the household and labor force. Many

parents believe that girls don’t need to study as they will not have to work when they

grow up because their husbands will take care of them. This kind of thinking needs to be

challenged. Indian society needs to be taught that education of girls is equally important

and women need to earn a living in order to be independent. Indian society’s ideology

regarding women’s place in home needs to be challenged. Society’s cultural thinking that

women are solely responsible for housework needs to be shaken. It is important that men

understand that they are as much responsible for housework as the women. It seems like

an uphill task, but change cannot occur overnight.

Future Research

To test the hypotheses given in the earlier sections of this chapter, I would do a

comparative study between women and men software professionals in India. Due to

constraints of time and money, my dissertation research was limited only to 27 women

software professionals. I would do a study that compares the job and skill-training

experiences of men and women software professionals. I would employ a survey using

185
quantitative methods to test the hypotheses that have inductively constructed through this

study.

186
Bibliography

Abernathy, William J. 1978. The Productivity Dilemma. Roadblock to Innovation in the


Automobile Industry. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press.

Ashish, Arora, V S Arunachalam, Jai Asundi and Ronald Fernandes. 1999. The Indian
Software Industry. Working Paper Series, H John Heinz III School of Public Policy and
Management: Carnegie Mellon University.

Arora, Ashish and Jai Asundi. 1999. Quality certification and the Economics of Contract
Software Development: A Study of the Indian Software Industry. Working Paper Series,
H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management: Carnegie Mellon University.

Backus, George. 1981. The History of FORTRAN I, II, and III in Wexelblat, Richard L
(Ed.) History of Programming Languages. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney and San
Francisco: Academic Press.

Banerjee, Abhijit V. and Esther Duflo. Forthcoming. ‘Reputation Effects and the Limits
of Contracting: A Study of the Indian Software Industry,’ Quarterly Journal of
Economics.

Benston, M L. 1992. Women’s Voice/Men’s Voices: Technology as Language in Kirkup,


G and Keller, L.S. (ed) Inventing Women: Science, Technology and Gender, Cambridge:
Polity Press

Birt, J. 1996. ‘Gateway to the BBC’s Future,’ The Guardian, August 24, 27.

Carter, Ruth and Gill Kirkup. 1990. Women in Engineering. A Good Place to be?
Hampshire, London: Macmillan

Castells, Manuel. 2000. The Rise of the Network Society. Oxford and Malden: Blackwell
Publishers

Castells, Manuel and Peter Hall. 1994. Technopoles of the World: The Making of
Twenty-first-century industrial complexes. London and New York: Routledge

Ceruzzi, Paul E. 1998. A History of Modern Computing. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press

Cockburn, Cynthia 1983. Brothers: Male Dominance and Technological Change.


London: Pluto Press.

Cockburn, Cynthia 1985. Machinery of Dominance. Women, Men and Technical Know-
how. London: Pluto Press.

187
Cockburn, Cynthia 1986. “The Relations of Technology. What Implications for theories
of Sex and Gender,” in Gender and Stratification (Ed.) Rosemary Crompton and Michael
Mann. Oxford: Polity Press.

Cockburn, Cynthia 1991. In The Way of Women. London: Macmilian.

Cockburn, Cynthia 1992. The Circuit of Technology: Gender, Power and Identity in R

Silverstone and Hirsch E (Ed.) Consuming Technologies, Media and Information in


Domestic Space. London: Routledge.

Cohn, Samuel. 1985. The Process of Occupational Sex-typing. Philadelphia: Temple


University Press.

Computer Languages. 2002. http://doit.ort.org/course/intro.htm

Dataquest. 1996. ‘The Growth of Indian Software Industry,’ Dataquest, July: 43-44.

Dean, Joel. 1950. Pricing Polices for New Products, Harvard Business Review, 28, no 6,
November.

Department of Telecommunications, Government of India. 2000. ‘The Indian


Advantage,’ http://www.stph.net/cguide/nasscom.

Doeringer, Peter B and Michael J Piore. 1971. Internal Labor Markets and Manpower
Analysis. Lexington: Mass.: Health.

Domestic Violence Statistics. 2004.


http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/Organizations/healthnet/SAsia/resources/resourcesframe.ht
ml

Donato, Katherine M. 1990. Programming for Change? The Growing Demand for
Women System Analyst in Reskin, Barbara and Patricia A Ross (Ed.) Job Queues,
Gender Queues: Explaining Women’s Inroads into Male Occupations. Philadelphia:
Temple University Press.

Donato, Katherine M and Patricia A Roos. 1987. Gender and Earnings Inequality among
Computer Specialist in Wright, Barbara Drygulski, Myra Marx Feree, Gail O Mellow,

Linda H Lewis, Maria-Luz Daza Samper, Robert Asher and Kathleen Claspell (Ed.)
Women, Work and Technology. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press

Dossani, Rafiq and Martin Kenney. 2002. Creating an Environment for Venture Capital
in India, Unpublished Manuscript, Asia/Pacific Research Center, Stanford University.

188
Edwards, Paul N. 1990. The Army and the Microworld: Computers and the Politics of
Gender Identity, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Volume 16, no 1, 102-
127.

Evetts, Julia. 1994. Career and Motherhood in Engineering: cultural dilemmas and
individualistic solutions in Journal of Gender Studies, Volume 3, no 2, 177-185.

Faulkner, Wendy and Erik Arnold. 1985. Smothered by Invention. London: Pluto Press.

Fields, Judith and Edward Wolf. 1989. “The Decline of Sex Segregation and the Wage
Gap.” Economic Research Report 89-04, C V Starr Center for Applied Economics, New
York University, March.

Ford, David and Chris Ryan. 1981. Taking Technology to Market. Harvard Business
Review 59, Number 2 (March/April).

Foster, Richard N. “A Call for Vision in Managing Technology,” McKinsey Quarterly


Summer, 1982, McKinsey and Company Inc.

Frissen, Valerie. 1992. Trapped in Electronic Cages? Gender and New Information
Technologies in the Public and Private Domain: An Overview of Research, Media,
Culture and Society, Volume 14, 31-49.

Flynn, Patricia M. 1984. Production Life Cycles and Their Implications for Education
and Training, Final report, Grant No NIE-G-82-0033, Washington D. C., National
Institute of Education, Feb 1994.

Flynn, Patricia M. 1993. Technology Life Cycles and Human Resources. Lanham:
University Press of America.

Gates, Bill. 1995. The Road Ahead. London: Viking.

Goe, W. Richard. 1991. The Growth of Producer Services Industries: Sorting Through
the Externalization Debate, Growth and Change 22: 118-141.

Greenbaum, Joan M. 1979. In the Name of Efficiency. Management Theory and


Shopfloor Practice in Data-Processing Work. Philadelphia: Temple University Press

Grenier, R. and C. Metes. 1995. Going Virtual: Moving Your Organization into the 21st
Century. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Griffin, Susan. 1984. Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her. London: The
Women’s Press.

Griffiths, Dot. 1985. ‘The Exclusion of Women from Technology’ in Wendy Faulkner
and Erik Arnold. (Ed.) Smothered by Invention. London: Pluto Press.

189
Grint, Keith and Rosalind Gill. 1992. The Gender-technology Relation. Contemporary
Theory and Research. London and Bristol: Taylor & Francis.

Hacker, Sally L. 1982. The Culture of Engineering: Women, Workplace and Machine in
Joan Rothschild (Ed.) Women, Technology and Innovation. Oxford: Permagon.

Haddon, L. 1988. The Home Computer: The Making of a Computer Electronic in Science
as Culture, No. 2, 7-51.

Hafkin, Nancy and Nancy Taggart. 2001. Gender, Information Technology and
Developing Countries: An Analytic Study. United States Agency for International
Development.

Hapnes, Toves and Knut H Sorensen. 1992. Competition and Collaboration in Male
Shaping of Computing: A Study of Norwegian Hacker Culture in Keith Grint and

Rosalind Gill. (Ed.) Gender-technology Relation. Contemporary Theory and Research.


London and Bristol: Taylor & Francis.

Heeks, Richard. 1996. India’s Software Industry: State, Policy, Liberalisation and
Industrial Development. New Delhi: Sage.

Heeks, Richard. 1998. Development Informatics, Working Paper Series. The Uneven
Profile of Indian Software Exports. Institute for Development Policy and Management,
University of Manchester.

Heeks, Richard. 1999. Development Informatics, Working Paper Series. Software


Strategies in Developing Countries. Institute for Development Policy and Management,
University of Manchester.

Heeks, Richard, S Krishna, Brian Nicholson and Sundeep Sahay. 2000. Development
Informatics, Working Paper Series. Synching or Sinking: Trajectories and Strategies in
Global Software Outsourcing Relationships. Institute for Development Policy and
Management, University of Manchester.

Holstein, James A and Jaber F Gubrium. 1995. The Active Interview. Thousand Oaks,
London, New Delhi: Sage.

India Education Statistics. 2004.www.ibe.unesco.org/International/


Databanks/Dossiers/sindia.htm - 42k

INFAC. 1998. Indian Software Market Status Report, INFAC, Mumbai, January.

Kaplinsky, R. 1987. Micro-electronics and Employment Revisited: A Review. ILO:


Geneva.

190
Karp, Jonathan. 1999. ‘The IT Guys: New Corporate Gurus Tap India’s Brainpower to
Galvanize Economy,’ The Wall Street Journal, September 27: A1, A24.

Karpf, Anne. 1987. ‘Recent Feminist Approaches to Women and Technology,’ in


Maureen McNeil (Ed.) Gender and Expertise. London: Free Association Books.

Keller, Evelyn Fox. 1983. Women, Science and Popular Mythology, in Machine Ex Dea:
Feminist Perspectives on Technology (Ed.) Joan Rothschild. New York: Pergamon Press.

Kirkup, Gill. 1992. The Social Construction of Computers: hammers or harpsichords? In


Inventing Women: Science Technology and Gender (Ed.) Gill Kirkup and Laurie Smith
Keller. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Kripalani, Manjeet, Pete Engardio and Leah N. Spiro. 1998. ‘India’s Whiz Kids: Inside
the Indian Institutes of Technology’s Star Factory,’ BusinessWeek December 7,
http://www.businessweek.com/1998/49/b3607011.htm.

Kirplani, Manjeet. 2003. The Rise of India. Business Week, December

Kraft, Philip. 1977. Programmers and Managers. The Routinization of Computer


Programming in the United States. Binghampton: State University of New York Press.

Kraft, Philip and Steven Dubnoff. 1983. “Software Workers Survey.” Computerworld,
November 14, pp 7-11.

Kuhn, Thomas. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolution. Chicago: Chicago


University Press.

Lakha Salim. 1994. “The New International Division of Labour and the Indian Computer
Software Industry,” Modern Asian Studies 28 (2): 381-408.

Levitt, Theodore. 1965. Exploit the Product Life Cycle, Harvard Business Review, 43,
No. 6 (Nov/Dec).

Linn, Pam. 1987. Gender Stereotypes, Technology Stereotypes in Maureen McNeil (Ed.)
Gender and Expertise. London: Free Association Books.

Lofland, John and Lyn H Lofland. 1995. Analyzing Social Settings. A Guide to
Qualitative Observation and Analysis. Belmont:Wadsworth.

Mckenzie, Donald and Judy Wacjman. 1985. (Ed.) The Social Shaping of Technology.
Milton Keynes: Oxford University Press.

McNeil, Maureen. 1987. It’s a Man’s World in Maureen McNeil (Ed.) Gender and
Expertise. London: Free Association Books.

191
Miles, Matthew B and A Michael Hubberman. 1994. Qualitative Data Analysis.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Ministry of Information Technology, Government of India. 2000. Gist of the Information


Technology Bill. http://www.mit.gov.in/itbill.htm

Moghadam, Valentine M. 1997. Women, Work, and Economic Reform in the Middle
East and North Africa. Lynee Reineer.

Mukherjee, Arindam, Ashok Bhattacherjee, Neerja P. Jetley, Charubala Annuncio,


Clifford Alvares, Archana Rai and A.S. Panneerselvan. 2000. ‘Dotcom: Another ICE
Meltdown’ Outlook May 1. http://www.outlookindia.com/20000501/business.htm.

National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM). 2000. ‘Indian


Software Scenario,’ http://www.nasscom.org.

National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM). 2002. ‘Indian


Software Industry,’ http://www.nasscom.org

National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM). 2004. ‘Visa


Cut,’ http://www.nasscom.org

National Science Foundation. 1994. Women, Minorities and Persons with Disabilities in
Science and Engineering, Arlington, VA (NSF 94-333).

Oppenheimer, Valerie Kincade. 1970. The Female Labor Force in the United States.
Demographic and Economic Factors Governing its Growth and Changing
Composition. Population Monograph Series, No 5. University of California,
Berkeley

Overland, Martha Ann. 2000. ‘Carnegie Mellon U. to Offer Online Programming Classes
in India’, The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 11. http://chronicle.com/free/
2000/09/2000091101u.htm.

Pande, Mani. 1997. Women not men enough to be engineers. The Pioneer, January, 19,
page 1.

Panteli, Androniki, Harvie Ramsay and Martin Beirne. 1997. Engendered Systems
Development: Ghettoziation and Agency in Grundy et al Women, Work and
Computerization: Spinning a Web From the Past to Future. Proceedings of the sixth
international IFIP conference, Bonn, Germany, May 24-27, 1997. Springer: Berlin.

Panteli, Androniki, J Stack, M Atkinson and H Ramsay. 1999. The status of women in
the UK IT Industry: an empirical study in European Journal of Information Systems, 8,
170-182.

192
Perry, Ruth and Lisa Greber. 1990. Women and Computers: An Introduction, Signs:
Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Volume16, No. 1, 74-101.

Ramarao, P. 1998. Reshaping Postgraduate Education and Research in Engineering and


Technology. Review Committee of the AICTE on PG Education in Research and
Development in Engineering Technology. Government of India.

Rape Statistics. 2003. http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/611_0,001300540000.htm

Ramussen, Bente. 1997. Girls and Computer Science in Grundy et al Women, Work and
Computerization: Spinning a Web From the Past to Future. Proceedings of the sixth
international IFIP conference, Bonn, Germany, May 24-27, 1997. Springer: Berlin.

Ray, Shantanu Guha and Neerja Pawha Jetley. 2000. ‘The Best and the Brightest: Near-
complete Autonomy and a Fanatical Focus on Quality Make the IITs the Cradle of Some
of the World’s Best Talent,’ Outlook May 29, http://www.outlookindia.com/20000529/
coverstory.htm.

Reskin, Barbara and Patricia A Ross. 1990. Job Queues, Gender Queues: Explaining
Women’s Inroads into Male Occupations. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Rotella Elyce. 1981. From Home to Office: US Women at Work, 1870-1930. Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan Press.

Saxenian, Anna L. 1999. Silicon Valley’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs. San Francisco:
Public Policy Institute of California.

Schatzman, Leonard and Anslem L Strauss. 1973. Field Research: Strategies for a
Natural Sociology. Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Shankiln, William L and John K Ryans. 1984. Marketing High Technology. Lexington,
Mass: Lexington Press.

Software Technology Parks of India. 2002. ‘Software Technology Park,’


http://www.stph.net/scheme/stps.html

Strauss, Anselm L. 1987. Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists. Cambridge:


University Press.

Storper, Michael and Richard Walker. 1989. The Capitalist Imperative: Territory,
Technology and Industrial Growth. New York: Basil Blackwell.

Storper, Michael. 1997. The Regional World, Territorial Development in a Global


Economy. New York, London: The Guilford Press.

193
Strober, Myra H. 1984. Toward A general Theory of Occupation Segregation in Barbara
F Reskin, Ed., Sex Segregation in the Workplace: Trends, Explanation and Remedies,
Washington DC: National Academy Press.

The History of Computer Programming Languages. 2002.


http://www.princeton.edu/~feguson/adw/programming_languages.shtml

Thurow, Lester. 1969. Poverty and Discrimination. Washington DC: Brookings Institute.

Thurow, Lester. 1972. Education and Economic Equality, Public Interest 28 (summer),
66-81.

Tierney, Margaret. 1992. Negotiating A Software Career: Informal Work Practices and
‘the Lads’ in a Software Installation in Keith Grint and Rosalind Gill. (Ed.) Gender-
technology Relation. Contemporary Theory and Research. London and Bristol: Taylor &
Francis.

Tijdens, Ken G. 1997. Gender Segregation in IT Occupations in Grundy et al Women,


Work and Computerization: Spinning a Web From the Past to Future. Proceedings of the
sixth international IFIP conference, Bonn, Germany, May 24-27, 1997. Springer: Berlin.

Turkle, Sherry. 1984. The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit. London:
Granada.

Turkle, Sherry. 1988. Computational Reticence: Why Women fear the Intimate Machine
in Kramarae C. (Ed.) Technology and Women’s Voice. New York: Routledge and Kegan
Paul.

Turkle, Sherry and Seymour Papert 1990. Epistmological Pluralism: Styles and Voices
Within the Computer Culture, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Volume
6, No. 1, 128-157

Valentine, Lynn. 1992. Gender, Technology and Democracy at Work in Martin Beirne
and Harvie Ramsay (Ed.) Information, Technology and Democracy. London and New
York: Routledge.

Van Zoonen, Liesbet. 1992. Feminist Theory and Information Technology, Media,
Culture and Society, Volume 14, 9-29.

Velkof, A Victoria. 1998. Women of the World. Women’s Education in India.


http://www.census.gov/ipc/prod/wid-9801.pdf

Wacjman, Judy. 1991. Feminism Confronts Technology. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Walby, Sylvia. 1990. Theorising Patriarchy. Oxford: Blackwell.

194
West, Candice and Don H Zimmerman. 1998. Doing Gender in Myers K., C. Anderson
and B. Risman (Ed.) Feminist Foundations: Towards Transforming Sociology. Thousand
Oaks: Sage.

Wirth, N. 1996. Recollections about the Development of Pascal in Bergin, Thomas J. and
Richard G. Gibson (Ed.) History of Programming Languages. New York and Oxford:
ACM Press.

Yee, May Chen. 2000. ‘High-Tech Lift for India’s Women,’ The Wall Street Journal
November 1: B5.

Zmroczek, C, F Henwood and S Wyatt. 1987. Women and Technology in G Ashworth


and L Bonnerjea (Ed.) The Invisible Decade: UK Women and the UN Decade 1976-85.
Gower: Aldershot.

195
Appendix

Appendix A

Initial Contact

Hello, may I speak with -------------------. (If she is not there or cannot come to the

phone, ask “when would be the best time that I could reach her.” Try to determine a time

to call back. If she does not live there, ask if the person would know where you could

contact them. If they do not know, terminate with. “I am sorry to have bothered you,

good-by.” If she comes on the phone, continue in the following manner.)

My name is Mani Pande. I am a PhD student at Kansas State University. I am

attempting to collect data for my doctoral dissertation on the role of women in the Indian

software industry. I believe that you are employed as a computer programmer in the IT

industry. Is that correct? I would like to interview you, as part of my research. The

interview will take about 45 minutes, and will focus on issues dealing with your job and

educational background.

I want to assure you that any answers you provide to interview questions will be

kept anonymous and confidential, and will never be identified with your name. The data

collected will be used to complete my doctoral dissertation. Can I set up time to interview

you? Could we conduct the interview at your home or another place where you feel

comfortable?

196
Interview Schedule

A. About myself:

• Hello, my name is Mani Pande, and I am a PhD student at Kansas State University.

As I told you over the telephone, I wish to interview you for the research that I am

conducting for my doctoral dissertation on the role of women in the Indian software

industry. Again, I want to assure you that any answers you provide to interview

questions will be kept anonymous and confidential, and will never be identified with

your name. Before I ask you any questions, would you like to know something about

me, and the work I am doing?

• Can I record the interview?

B. Factual and background information:

(1) Name
(2) Age
(3) Marital status
(4) Current Designation at work
(5) Years of experience
(6) Name of company
(7) Salary (in Rupees)

C. Open-ended opinion based questions:


(1) Questions on educational background:
1-What is your educational background?
2-What is the highest degree you have earned?
3-If college, what field is your degree in?
4-Which college or university did you attend?

197
Questions on education for those who have a formal engineering degree:
1-What interested you in pursuing a formal engineering degree rather than some other
degree?
2-Is anyone else also an engineer in your family? If yes, did the presence of another
engineer influence your career choice? How?
3-While you were in college, did the fact that you were a woman in engineering have
a bearing on your experience? If yes, how?
4-How did you feel about taking Math and Physics classes as part of your college
degree?
Questions on education for those who do not have a formal engineering degree:
1-What interested you in pursung the degree you did as opposed to a formal
engineering degree?
2- How did you feel about taking Math and Physics classes as part of your college
degree?
3- While you were in college, did the fact that you were a woman have a bearing on
your experience? If yes, why?
4 - Do you think the fact that you do not have a formal degree in engineering limits
your opportunities for advancement in your job? Please explain your answer.

(2) Questions on nature of work and technology:


1- What is the nature of your current job?
2- How many people in your company are in the same job or position as yours? Are
they predominantly men or women or, is there close to an equal mix of men and
women?
3- What software do you use?
4- How did you learn the skills required for this job?
5- Please describe the characteristics of your work?
a- Do you have to work in teams?
b- Do you have control over your work?
c- Does your work involve job rotation?
d- Is your salary satisfactory?

198
6- Where does your job fit in the occupational hierarchy of your company?
7- What are your perceptions about jobs that are ranked higher than your job?
8- What are your perceptions about jobs that are ranked lower than your job?

(3) Questions on gender


1 -How would you compare your work experience with those of other women in
the company?
2- How do your work experiences compare with those of men in your company?
3 -What do you think it would take a woman to move up in your company?

(4) Questions on nature of company:


1- What kind of products or services are provided by your company?
2- To the best of your knowledge, how many employees work at your company?
3- Do you think that male and female employees are treated differently by the bosses
in your company? Please explain your answer.
a- Were any promotions received by women employees?
b- Does your company provide additional training?
4- In the recent recession, were any employees terminated by your company? If yes,

would you say that the majority of those terminated were female employees?

Male employees? Or, was there roughly an equal mix of male and female

employees terminated?

(5) Questions about future perceptions:


1-Where do you see yourselves five years from now?
2-Would you like to earn some other related degree? If yes, why?
3- If you had a choice, would you have prefer to work in another occupation? Please
explain your answer.
a- For example, would you like to work in female dominated occupations such as
teaching?

199
4- What do you think can be done to enhance the opportunities for advancement for
female workers in the software industry?

200
Appendix B

Human Resource Manager


Systec Software
New Delhi
July 12, 2002

Dear Sir/madam,
I am a PhD student in Sociology at Kansas State University. I am
conducting research on female software professionals in India. The research examines the
work and educational experiences of female software workers. For the purpose of my
study, I would like to interview women working in the software division of your
company. I would like to assure you that the interviews are only for research purpose.
The information collected will be kept confidential, and not published without the
permission of the company. The name of the interviewees and the company will not be
revealed.
Thanking You.
2050 Jardine Drive, #28 Yours Sincerely,
Manhattan, KS, 66502
USA

Mani Pande

201
Appendix C
Free Nodes

(F 1) //Free Nodes/marital status


(F 2) //Free Nodes/education
(F 3) //Free Nodes/engineering choice
(F 4) //Free Nodes/college experience
(F 5) //Free Nodes/math and physics
(F 6) //Free Nodes/engineering limitation
(F 7) //Free Nodes/nature of job
(F 8) //Free Nodes/numbers
(F 9) //Free Nodes/software
(F 10) //Free Nodes/skill training
(F 11) //Free Nodes/team work
(F 12) //Free Nodes/control over work
(F 13) //Free Nodes/job rotation
(F 14) //Free Nodes/salary satisfied
(F 15) //Free Nodes/job rank
(F 16) //Free Nodes/lower occupation
(F 17) //Free Nodes/work & women
(F 18) //Free Nodes/work & men
(F 19) //Free Nodes/women moving
(F 20) //Free Nodes/company products
(F 21) //Free Nodes/number in company
(F 22) //Free Nodes/treatment
(F 23) //Free Nodes/women promotion
(F 24) //Free Nodes/additional training
(F 25) //Free Nodes/recession
(F 26) //Free Nodes/five years
(F 27) //Free Nodes/another degree
(F 28) //Free Nodes/higher jobs

202
(F 29) //Free Nodes/another occupation
(F 30) //Free Nodes/enhance opportunity
(F 31) //Free Nodes/nontechnical
(F 32) //Free Nodes/supervise
(F 33) //Free Nodes/nonengineering choice
(F 34) //Free Nodes/experience
*** This node has no children.

203
Tree Nodes
Skill-training experiences of female software professionals

(1 1 1) /Education/Engineering/Reasons for choosing degree


(1 1 1 1) /Education/Engineering/Reasons for choosing degree/Like Math and Physics
(1 1 1 2) /Education/Engineering/Reasons for choosing degree/Sense of security
(1 1 1 3) /Education/Engineering/Reasons for choosing degree/Presence of engineer
(1 1 2) /Education/Engineering/College Experience
(1 1 3) /Education/Engineering/Higher studies
(1 1 3 1) /Education/Engineering/Higher studies/Future plan
(1 2) /Education/Nonengineering
(1 2 1) /Education/Nonengineering/Reasons for choosing degree
(1 2 1 1) /Education/Nonengineering/Reasons for choosing degree/Did not like Math
and Physics
(1 2 1 2) /Education/Nonengineering/Reasons for choosing degree/Struggles in school
(1 2 1 3) /Education/Nonengineering/Reasons for choosing degree/Interest in
management
(1 2 1 4) /Education/Nonengineering/Reasons for choosing degree/Parental pressure
(1 2 2) /Education/Nonengineering/College experience
(1 2 4) /Education/Nonengineering/Limitations
(1 2 4 1) /Education/Nonengineering/Limitations/Discrimination
(1 2 4 2) /Education/Nonengineering/Limitations/Higher studies
(1 2 4 2 1) /Education/Nonengineering/Limitations/Higher studies/Future plans

204
Work Experiences of female software professionals
(2) /Work
(2 1) /Work/Programming Language
(2 2) /Work/Ranking in job queue
(2 2 1) /Work/Ranking in job queue/Salary
(2 2 1 1) /Work/Ranking in job queue/Salary/Salary satisfaction
(2 2 2) /Work/Ranking in job queue/Job characteristics
(2 2 2 1) /Work/Ranking in job queue/Job characteristics/Nature of work
(2 2 2 2) /Work/Ranking in job queue/Job characteristics/Control over work
(2 2 2 3) /Work/Ranking in job queue/Job characteristics/Job rotation
(2 2 2 4) /Work/Ranking in job queue/Job characteristics/Mobility
(2 2 2 4 1) /Work/Ranking in job queue/Job characteristics/Mobility/Staying late
(2 2 2 4 2) /Work/Ranking in job queue/Job characteristics/Mobility/Balancing
family
(2 2 3) /Work/Ranking in job queue/Perceptions
(2 2 3 1) /Work/Ranking in job queue/Perceptions/Higher job perception
(2 2 3 2) /Work/Ranking in job queue/Perceptions/Lower job perception
(2 2 3 3) /Work/Ranking in job queue/Perceptions/Self-perception
(2 3) /Work/Women's work experience
(2 3 1) /Work/Women's work experience/Sex composition
(2 4) /Work/Comparison with female occupations

205