, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 37-47

Does gender matter in computer ethics?

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Abstract

Computer ethics is a relatively young discipline,hence it needs time both for reflection and forexploring alternative ethical standpoints in buildingup its own theoretical framework. Feminist ethics isoffered as one such alternative particularly to informissues of equality and power. We argue that feministethics is not narrowly confined to ‘women's issues’ but is an approach with wider egalitarianapplications. The rise of feminist ethics in relationto feminist theory in general is described and withinthat the work of Gilligan and others on an ‘ethic of care’. We argue for the need to connect theory toempirical evidence. Empirical studies of gender andbusiness and computer ethics are reviewed. We noteconcerns with surveying a student audience, the issueof how far questionnaires and interviews can get tothe heart of ethical beliefs and problems ofperforming statistical analyses of quantitative data.Although we recognize them, our own small surveycannot avoid all these problems. Nevertheless byrefining our scenarios we are able to offer analternative reading of a hacking problem in terms ofan ethic of care thereby pointing a way forward forfuture research in computer ethics inspired byfeminist theory.