WOMEN, COMPUTERS, AND INFORMATION WORK
This research studies information work, the women who do it, and how computers are changing that work. The research questions are: how are the information sector and information work (work that produces information, rather than goods, food, or non-information services) growing; how is the adoption of micro-computers changing that work in terms of employment, shifts in work, and sex segregation; and how are that growth and change affecting women and men differently?; Occupation and industry data from the Current Population Survey for the years 1974 to 1986 are compared to data on computer sales. Workers are classified as information workers using a scheme developed by Uri Porat. It is found that in 1986, 48 percent of all employed persons did information work. Information work differs from all other forms of work studied in its constant growth. Recognition of this fact would be an aid in employment projections. Women are the main beneficiaries of that growth, obtaining three fourths of new information employment. Consequently, they are increasing rapidly as a percent of information workers. Women depend on this work, as 59 percent of employed women do information work, compared to 39 percent of employed men. Women and men are segregated by type of information work. Men primarily produce new information, plan and control, and do market search and coordination. Women distribute and process information. The adoption of micro-computers has not decreased information work nor slowed its growth. However, this adoption is associated with a shift in work, as the percent of clerical workers decreases, while that of managers increases, implying lessened need for information processing and greater need for control. Computerization may also lead to decreases in employment in some professional work. Micro-computers are associated with increases in employment for women, in spite of the fact that it is the traditionally male dominated occupational groups that grow. Computerization is also accompanied by a more rapid decrease in sex segregation. Contrary to expectations, women are benefiting from this new technology, perhaps at the expense of creating deeper divisions between women.