University of Oulu

Investigating gender equality and gender-based discrimination in software development : case study in a Finnish IT company

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Author: Kivelä, Anna1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Department of Information Processing Science, Information Processing Science
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.9 MB)
Pages: 101
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : A. Kivelä, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-04-09
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Iivari, Netta
Reviewer: Iivari, Netta
Vainionpää, Fanny


The underrepresentation of women in the IT field has been a constant global challenge for decades. IT companies are struggling to achieve a better gender diversity situation, since the number of women studying the STEM fields remains low. Recruiting is not the only challenge for the companies in the gender diversity issue, as also many women working in IT decide to leave for a work on another field. Gender-based discrimination has been suggested as one possible reason for the low retention of women.

This thesis study focuses on the discrimination by investigating the experiences and perceptions of software development employees with survey and interview methods. The aim in this qualitative study was to provide more information about the actual existence and nature of the gender-based discrimination. The topics related to discrimination were divided into two groups in the analysis, the ones which are related to formal discrimination and the other to informal discrimination. Formal referring to topics which affect pay and career advancement, and informal referring to the social environment at the workplace.

The findings suggested that both the formal and informal types of gender-based discrimination towards women do still exist in software development. They both seemed to affect the experience of gender equality and possibly also the retention of women. The active roles of scholars and practitioners are important in order to make a change; therefore, this study provides also suggestions for action based on the current literature.

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Copyright information: © Anna Kivelä, 2019. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.