Masthead CMC Magazine / March 1, 1996
 The Gendered Mystique, by Leslie Regan Shade

Gender and Equity in Canada

Canada is one country which has publicly recognized that gender equity must be on the agenda in the policy formulation of the information infrastructure. The Coalition for Public Information (CPI) an initiative of the Ontario Library Association, has formulated, through a series of public consultations, Future-Knowledge: a public policy framework for the information highway. Gender issues recommendations are included under their "Universal Access and Ubiquity" principles:

CPI's Future Knowledge: Gender Issues Recommendations

Women are still under-represented in almost every aspect of computer culture, from programming, to product design, to use of the information infrastructure. The Coalition encourages the development of educational software and training material which is gender-sensitive, takes into account gender differences in learning styles, and avoids sex stereotyping.

The Coalition recommends the development of online gender issue information services. Such services could includes listings of technology training and applications opportunities for women.

The Coalition recommends the development of on-line harassment guidelines which would govern the use of the Internet by everyone who receives an Internet account. These guidelines would also include grievance procedures for complaints of on-line sexual harassment

Canada's Information Highway Advisory Council's final report recognized that gender and social barriers need to be removed to ensure equitable and universal access to the information infrastructure: "Women's issues and concerns...must be addressed. Some of these, such as safety, privacy, and security, could be largely addressed by early implementation of related recommendations...women have to be able to use the Information Highway and contribute to the content carried. The government can raise the awareness of content and hardware providers and can also implement public awareness campaigns targeted to women"

Two recommendations towards removing gender and social barriers to the information infrastructure were advanced:

IHAC: Gender Equity Recommendations

Rec.13.21: Industry Canada, Human Resources Development Canada, Statistics Canada and other government departments should conduct and/or support the research necessary to identify how gender, age and other social factors create differences in participation of the Information Highway.

Rec. 13.22: Where differences in opportunity are identified, the federal government with other stakeholders should develop an appropriate response to deal with these differences.

As CPI has noted, IHAC's recommendations for gender equity are very weak, and do not address many of the issues CPI recommended, including development of online gender issue information services, educational software and training material, and online harassment guidelines. --

In the United States, another set of gender equity recommendations has been issued.


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