Mind the Gap! How Discourses Shape the Digital Gender Divide: A Critical Case Study Examining Discourses on Gender and ICT in the Kenyan Education System

Stina Amnebjer & Laura Werup

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The speed of digitalization has generated disparities in access and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) between men and women in Sub-Saharan Africa. This gap is known as the digital gender divide. This qualitative, exploratory case study seeks to explain how discourses on gender in relation to ICT shape the digital gender divide in Kenya’s education system. The study is theoretically and methodologically founded in the school of critical discourse analysis and stresses how gendered associations of technology are created, sustained or challenged through language. The paper analyzes how discourses on gender in relation to ICT in Kenyan national education policies are consumed, understood and conveyed by teachers and principals in Kenyan schools. The primary data consists of national policy documents and semi-structured interviews with teachers and principals. The findings illustrate a discursive shift in Kenyan education policies towards promoting girls’ access and use of ICT. However, the transmission of discourses on gender and ICT from policy to schools was found to be disrupted due to fragmentations in the ties between the government and the schools. Teachers and principals demonstrated an awareness of how patriarchal ideologies inhibit girls’ engagement with ICT in schools, but the majority did not actively address the disparities. This study concludes that since altered policy discourses were not transferred and traditional gender roles in relation to technology remained unchallenged, the impact on reducing the digital gender divide is limited.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2018
Number of pages274