The EIAT project: gender and technology in the Irish context
Brereton, Bernadette (2002) The EIAT project: gender and technology in the Irish context. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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This thesis examines the gender/technology relation in th e context of the Ennis Information Age Town (EIAT) project and th e Information Age in Ireland. We examine the ways th a t technology impacts on contemporary culture, moulding existing cultural practices and creating new ones. We also examine th e reciprocal impact which culture has on technology, influencing its creation and development. In practice, we consider the ontology of technology (what it is), the pragmatics of technology (what it does) and the phenomenology of technology (how it affects our experiences).
We consider the gender/technology relation in Irish society in the context of recent developments in information and communication technologies (ICTs) which offer th e possibility of fast communication, universal access to information and a virtual communication environment with unforeseen effects on families, communities and institutions.
We examine these developments in th e context of the introduction of ICTs in Ennis, Co. Clare as p a rt of the EIAT project. This five-year project involved the delivery of both the relevant technology and training to enable th e people of Ennis to engage with the Information Society. We consider th e diversity of responses of th e women of Ennis to th e project and some of the barriers to their engagement with ICTs. We hypothesise that the informal social networks maintained by many women are an important means of overcoming barriers to women’s engagement with ICTs. We compare these women’s engagement with ICTs within the context of the project with other Irish women who are engaging with ICTs outside th e context of the project.
We also examine th e education/technology relation in Ireland in the context of the EIAT project. We consider th e use of ICTs in the classroom and the behaviours and attitudes of primary school children towards these technologies. Once again, we make comparisons between the use of ICTs in schools within the EIAT project and outside th e project.
The epistemological basis of this research programme is informed by a diversity of disciplines. As a study of gender, it draws upon research in the area of feminist and gender studies, sociology and communication studies. As a study of gender practices in the context of ICT developments, it draws upon technology studies and computer-mediated communication (CMC) studies. We also present d a ta collected over a period of four years, in Ennis and elsewhere. We conclude with a number of recommendations which we believe will enable more Irish women to engage meaningfully with ICTs.
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