Gender and telecom at the BOP: Is there really a divide?

Posted on May 25, 2008  /  0 Comments

LIRNEasia’s Executive Director will present a paper on the gendered aspects of telecom use at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) in emerging Asia, at the 58th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA), ‘Communicating for Social Impact’ in Montreal, Canada, on 26 May 2008.

The paper ‘Who’s got the phone? The gendered use of telephones at the bottom of the pyramid’ explores the so called gender ‘divide’ in telecom access at the BOP in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and Thailand, finding that that a significant gender divide in access to telephones exists in Pakistan and India , to a lesser extent in Sri Lanka , but is absent in the Philippines and Thailand. The authors argue that perhaps as penetration levels increase, overall the gender divide may reduce, although in some cases like Pakistan, culture will override.

The paper also looks at difference is usage patterns between men and women at the BOP, and challenges some of the findings of studies which claim that women’s and men’s use is fundamentally different. Women are also said to use telephones in a different manner from men –making and receiving more calls, spending more time on calls, and using telephones primarily for ‘relationship maintenance’ purposes, while men make fewer calls, shorter calls and use telephones primarily for instrumental purposes, according to existing literature. However, much of this research on usage patterns is based on small-sample studies in affluent developed countries. The findings reported here disagree with these studies.

The presentation slides are available here, and the full length paper (version 1.8) is available here.

The authors invide comments an discussion.

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