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Petra Wolf

 Petra Wolf


Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8570
Location: Mile End, Bancroft Building, Room 4.23

1st Supervisor: Dr Tessa Wright
2nd Supervisor: Professor Maxine Robertson

Project Title:
An investigation, exploration and comparison of  the behaviours and decision making that IT consultants employ to build and  maintain their personal and professional identities, examining the role that gender plays.  

Project description:
Despite women's equal educational attainment and rising labour market participation , women are still underrepresented in information technology (IT) related occupations which are well paid and offer relatively secure employment. Overall, women constitute just fewer than 20% of all employees of the UK’s information and communications technology professionals (ILO, 2016) although 47% of the workforce in the UK are women. As a result, women are missing out on interesting and well-paid jobs, are restricted in their personal development and have less access to economic resources. On a societal level, the low number of women in IT jobs leads to labour market inflexibility as well as negatively impacting national economic performance.  Although there has been a lot of research into the causes of women's low representation in Information Technology related jobs since the 1990, women’s participation in IT related occupations is still low and there have been no effective remedial actions identified for this phenomena.  Academic research as well as government initiatives have resulted in the creation of a multitude of theories and models that seek to explain and address the persistent low numbers of women in IT such as the social construction of technology as a male domain, the low numbers of girls taking computer related subject in secondary and higher education which result in a thin pipe line, a lack of female role models and unfavourable working conditions but there is little research that uses identity theories as its point of departure to determine if a possible contributing cause of the problem could be that men and women take different approaches to identity construction and maintenance, something which previous research in the area of management consulting and investment banking has shown to result in women struggling more than men to  make successful role transitions into senior positions (Ibarra, 1999; Ibarra and Petriglieri, 2015).
My study will use in-depth interviews with men and women who are employed in the IT consulting industry at different experience levels in order to identify, explore and compare behaviours and decision making processes employed by IT consultants to build and maintain their personal and professional identities. The aim is to  understand why fewer women than men are currently regarding IT consulting as a profitable and satisfying career option and why women struggle to reach senior positions in this industry.

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