Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are not gender-neutral: they are not accessed, managed and controlled by all men and women equally. According to the International Telecommunications Union (2019), women are lagging behind men in making use of the Internet in almost two thirds of countries worldwide. Overall, the proportion of all women using the Internet globally is 48%, compared with 58% of all men. More men than women use the Internet in every region of the world except in the Americas, where the gender gap continues to hover around 0. In Africa, the Arab States and Asia-Pacific, meanwhile, the digital gender gap is starting to grow.
While the literature on the digital divide has widely addressed this gender digital gap (e.g., Bimber, 2000; Cooper, 2006; Brännström, 2012; Cooper & Weaver, 2013; Gray et al., 2017), interestingly enough, its potential implications for e-government research and practice have hardly been studied (Choi & Park, 2013), and most of e-government initiatives have been implemented without taking into account the potential gender-based differences in technology usage behavior (Sarabdeen & Rodrigues, 2010; Rufin-Moreno et al., 2013). Further, more than two decades of feminist studies in technology design suggest that the diversity of women's needs or preferences may be overlooked in favor of masculinist perspectives (Oudshoorn et al., 2004; Rommes et al., 2012). This lack of gender awareness is also present in the e-government literature and, as a result, there is not enough evidence on the benefits of e-government for women. This is particularly relevant for women who experience multiple social disadvantages, exclusion, and marginalization (Martin & Goggin, 2016) and it could become even worst due to the impact of the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
The exclusion of gender considerations from e-government research has also expanded to other areas of digital government Only very recently, a few voices are starting to acknowledge the role of women in this field. That is the case, for example, of the Feminist Open Government Initiative in the framework of the Open Government Partnership, which promotes the ideas of equitable and equal access to transparency, participation and accountability from government, ensuring that governments are responsive to the diverse and gendered needs of all citizens, and that implementation of such initiatives is gender sensitive (Open Government Partnership, 2019). Research on smart cities has also echoed this trend and has explored whether, where, how and why gender discriminations could emerge in the context of a smart city (Nesti, 2019). The use of big data and its potential applications for women seems to also be affected by a gender data gap that keeps highlighting the lack of gender diversity in technology (Criado Perez, 2019; D’Ignazio & Klein, 2020).
Given the scarce attention that the role of gender in digital government studies has received, which shows the need for further and consistent research, we invite researchers to submit abstracts that investigate this important topic. Contributions can be both of conceptual and empirical nature and may include, but are not limited to, the following topics:
- The current state-of-the-art in academic thinking on gender and digital government
- Critical analysis of the relations between digital government and gender
- Historical accounts of the role of women in digital government (users versus designers)
- Mechanisms and measures for assessing digital government impacts on gender
- The extent to which digital government produces gender specific outcomes
- Digital government and gender in developing countries
- LGBTQ rights/identities and digital government
- The implications of the gender digital gap and digital government use by women
Researchers are invited to submit an abstract of no more than 1,000 words (excluding references). The abstract should outline the theoretical contribution, linked to one of the themes mentioned above, and whether data (if applicable) has been collected or provide an indication of when it will be collected. Abstracts should be emailed to Mila Gasco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 21, 2020: Deadline for abstract submission
October 1, 2020: Notification of decision to submit full manuscript
December 15, 2020: Full manuscript deadline
December 15, 2020 – March 15, 2021: Review process (first and possibly second round)
April 1, 2021: Final decision on manuscripts
Abstracts will be reviewed by the guest editors of this issue. This review will focus on the fit with the special issue theme, feasibility and potential contribution. Accepted abstracts will undergo double-blind peer review. Please note that initial acceptance of an abstract does not guarantee acceptance of the full manuscript in any way.
Final manuscripts have to be submitted directly through IP’s submission system and needs to adhere to the journals submission guidelines (informationpolity.com/guidelines).
Mila Gasco-Hernandez (Center for Technology in Government and Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, University at Albany, SUNY)
Giorgia Nesti (University of Padova)
Maria Cucciniello (University of Edinburgh Business School)
About Information Polity
Information Polity is a tangible expression of the increasing awareness that Information and Communication technologies (ICTs) have become of deep significance for all polities as new technology-enabled forms of government, governing and democratic practice are sought or experienced throughout the world. This journal positions itself in these contexts, seeking to be at the forefront of thought leadership and debate about emerging issues, impact, and implications of government and democracy in the information age.
More information: informationpolity.com
Bimber, B. (2000). Measuring the gender gap on the Internet. Social Science Quarterly, 81(3), 868-876.
Brännström, I. (2012). Gender and digital divide 2000–2008 in two low-income economies in Sub-Saharan Africa: Kenya and Somalia in official statistics. Government Information Quality, 29(1), 60-67.
Cooper, J. (2006). The digital divide: The special case of gender. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 22(5), 320-334.
Criado Perez, C. (2019). Invisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men. New York: Abrams Press.
Choi, Y-T. & Park, S. (2013). Understanding gender inequality in central e-government: A Korean case study. Government Information Quarterly, 30(3), 300-309.
D’Ignazio K. & Klein L. (2020). Data Feminism. Cambridge: The MIT Press.
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Nesti, G. (2019). Mainstreaming gender equality in smart cities: Theoretical, methodological and empirical challenges. Information Polity, 24(3), 289-304.
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