Den raka och den krokiga vägen : om genus, ingenjörer och teknikkarriärer

Sammanfattning: Abstract The purpose of this doctoral thesis is to shed light on, explain, and problematize women’s and men’s paths both to and within the profession of engineer. Computer and mechanical engineers are in focus and the overarching issues that this thesis attempts to answer are: How can women’s and men’s paths to the profession of engineer be explained and what has governed/motivated their choice of education? How do women’s and men’s career patterns look in professional life, and how can these patterns be explained? This study is based on a social-constructivistic approach, entailing a focus on how choices of education and profession have been negotiated through social and cultural practices, norms, and values. The thesis combines work science research with research into the gender and technology fields. In particular, the relationships between gender, technology, and labour market gender segregation are of key importance in this thesis. The four part studies of the thesis are based on three qualitative studies and on one quantitative study. The qualitative studies consist of interview surveys with a total of 24 computer and mechanical engineers and 22 IT consultants. The quantitative survey is an exhaustive survey of 3,662 working IT engineers. My studies show that the career patterns of women and men in the profession of engineer differ. Men’s paths both to and within the profession tend to be “straight” while women’s are often “winding”. The thesis shows that historically established, often stereotypical, conceptions of gender contribute towards recreating these different paths for women and men. At the same time, tendencies towards change are indicated. This is made visible through a gradually changing view of both father- and parenthood, which in and of itself is creating new prerequisites for women and men in working life. In concluding, the thesis proposes a new term, technology career, as an analytical tool for continued studies of gender segregation in technology and engineering professions. The aim in using this term is to capture the social complexity and cultural dynamic as regards how technology and gender are co-produced.