Women, doctoral degrees, and technology: Female doctoral students online
Adonica Schultz Aune, The University of North Dakota, United States
The University of North Dakota . Awarded
Women, Doctoral Degrees, and Computer Technology: Female Doctoral Students Online was conducted at a Midwestern university addressing the questions: (1) How do women use the computer during their doctoral work? (2) Why do women use the computer for their doctoral work? (3) When do women working on their doctoral work use the computer? and (4) Has the personal computer enabled the doctoral student to complete her Ph.D.? The investigation was conducted in three stages. Phase one was a pilot survey of 23 women in doctoral programs that provided descriptive data on how, how much, and when women in doctoral programs used computer technology. Phase two was a focus group formed from the original participants. Phase three was a collection of personal interviews conducted with nine more of the original participants. The personal interviews were conducted to gather information about the meaning of the descriptive data. The study gave an opportunity for this group of women to voice their views and perspectives on the importance of computer technology in their doctoral programs.
In 20th century United States, a traditional mid-class woman's "first shift" was her home. Feminist communication scholars identified more shifts. A "second shift" emerged when women maintained a family and a job. The phenomenon of a "parallel shift" of work and family responsibilities connected simultaneously where women use the mobile phone to connect home and job appeared. A "third shift" became apparent when women added education to maintaining home and job. This study illuminates the previous shifts in association with computer technology and more explicitly introduces the "fourth shift" of computer technology proficiency demands that permeate a woman's life in issues of convenience, desires, economics, e-mail, empowerment, frustration, information, pleasure, roadblocks, space, time, and weekly schedules. As the women expressed the challenges of work, family, career, and school, a theme emerged that proposes a "fourth shift" has been added to a woman's environment. A nascent feminist communication theory called The Fourth Shift Theory emerged from the "fourth shift" theme's relationship to the patterns of background, patriarchy, and societal change found in the literature on women and education, women and computer technology, women and communication, and women and work. Although technology is not inherently gendered and does have benefits for women, there are barriers for women that accompany the "fourth shift." Hegemony accompanies computer technology and is upheld in society through gender ideology. The Fourth Shift Theory asserts that gender-typed computer technology proficiency is necessary in a woman's world in order for her to function and manage her responsibilities.
Aune, A.S. Women, doctoral degrees, and technology: Female doctoral students online. Ph.D. thesis, The University of North Dakota.
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