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Journal Article

What Can We Learn from Gender Research  pp1-9

Eileen Trauth

© Jan 2011 Volume 9 Issue 1, ECRM 2010 Special issue Part 2/Jan 2011, Editor: Ann Brown, David Douglas, Marian Carcary and Jose Esteves, pp1 - 87

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Abstract

This paper considers issues, insights and lessons about conducting research in business that are drawn from this author’s experiences with gender research in the information technology (IT) field over the past decade. A research program on gender and information technology (IT) is used as the basis for consideration of methodological insights for business research. The purpose in discussing gender research is not so much to focus on the findings of this work. Rather, the purpose is to focus on research issues that have or could arise, the learning from which is transferrable to business research. The reason is that there are similarities between gender research and business research. Both are action oriented in that the research is driven by real issues and practical problems. The research is conducted into the phenomenon in order to inform actions and interventions. This problem‑orientation that drives business research also drives gender and IT research. Seven lessons relevant to business research methods are: the effect of data type, the choice of epistemology, the role of theory, building on disparate literature, the influence of researcher standpoint, stakeholder perspective that is privileged, and resolving the rigor vs. relevance conundrum. This review of insights for business research that is drawn from experiences with conducting research on gender and IT makes a case for increased methodological pluralism. Arguably, the degree to which institutions and publication outlets take these issues into account is indicative of their openness to exploring emergent topics. Methodological conservatism might be in order in some areas. But business research, which endeavors to respond to real world problems, needs to have the methodological tools available to respond to them. It must also be responsive to business trends and issues that might bring with them challenges for current methods for conducting research. New economic constraints, issues such as climate change that blur business area boundaries, globalization, social inclusion and innovation are 21st century issues that will encourage the research community to overcome resistance to different ideas, methodologies, epistemologies and theories.

 

Keywords: critical theory, diversity, epistemology, feminism, gender differences, gender and IT, individual differences theory of gender and information technology, interpretive research, research methods, social inclusion, theory, women and IT workforce

 

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