Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 37–47 | Cite as

Does gender matter in computer ethics?

  • Alison Adam
  • Jacqueline Ofori-Amanfo


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.

computer ethics ethic of care ethics and power ethics research methodologies feminist ethics 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alison Adam. Artificial Knowing: Gender and the Thinking Machine. Routledge, London and New York, 1998.Google Scholar
  2. Alison Adam, Judy Emms, Eileen Green and Jenny Owen, editors. IFIP Transactions A-57, Women, Work and Computerization: Breaking Old Boundaries-Building New Forms. Elsevier/North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1994.Google Scholar
  3. Linda Alcoff and Elizabeth Potter, editors. Feminist Epistemologies. Routledge, New York and London, 1993.Google Scholar
  4. Sara Baase. A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues in Computing. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1997.Google Scholar
  5. Peta Bowden. Caring: Gender-Sensitive Ethics. Routledge, London and New York, 1997.Google Scholar
  6. Claudia Card, editor. Feminist Ethics. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 1991.Google Scholar
  7. Peter Checkland and Sue Holwell. Information, Systems and Information Systems: Making Sense of the Field. Wiley, Chichester, 1998.Google Scholar
  8. Simone De Beauvoir. The Second Sex. Vintage Books, New York 1949 (Translated and edited by H.M. Parshley 1974).Google Scholar
  9. Tom Forester and Perry Morrison. Computer Ethics: Cautionary Tales and Ethical Dilemmas in Computing, 2nd edn. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1994.Google Scholar
  10. Carol Gilligan. In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1982.Google Scholar
  11. Krystyna Gorniak-Kocikowska. The Computer Revolution and the Problem of Global Ethics. Science and Engineering Ethics, 2: 177–190, 1996.Google Scholar
  12. Eileen Green, Jenny Owen and Den Pain, editors. Gendered by Design? Information Technology and Office Systems. Taylor and Francis, London, 1993.Google Scholar
  13. Frances Grundy. Women and Computers. Intellect, Exeter, 1996.Google Scholar
  14. Frances Grundy, Doris Kohler, Veronika Oechtering and Ulrike Petersen, editors. Women, Work and Computerization: Spinning a Web from Past to Future. Proc. 6th IFIP WG 9.1 Conference. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1997.Google Scholar
  15. Susan J. Hekman. Gender and Knowledge: Elements of a Postmodern Feminism. Polity Press, Cambridge, 1990.Google Scholar
  16. Rudy Hirschheim, Heinz Klein and Kalle Lyytinen. Information Systems Development and Data Modeling: Conceptual and Philosophical Foundations. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, New York and Melbourne, 1995.Google Scholar
  17. Debra Howcroft. Spanning the Spectrum from Utopia to Dystopia: An Interpretive Field Study of the Nature and Characteristics of Internet Usage. Ph.D. thesis, Department of Computation, UMIST, Manchester, UK, 1998.Google Scholar
  18. Alison Jaggar. Feminist Ethics: Projects, Problems, Prospects. In Claudia Card, editor, Feminist Ethics, pp. 78–104. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 1991.Google Scholar
  19. Deborah Johnson. Computer Ethics, 2nd edn. Prentice Hall, Englewood, NJ, 1994.Google Scholar
  20. Deepak Khazanchi. Unethical Behaviour in Information Systems: The Gender Factor. Journal of Business Ethics 14: 741–749, 1995.Google Scholar
  21. Jennifer Kreie and Timothy P. Cronan. How Men and Women View Ethics. Communications of the ACM, 41(9): 70–76, 1998.Google Scholar
  22. Rachel Lander and Alison Adam, editors. Women in Computing. Intellect, Exeter, 1997.Google Scholar
  23. Duncan Langford. Business Computer Ethics. Addison Wesley Longman Ltd., Harlow, Essex, 1999.Google Scholar
  24. Mary J. Larrabee, editor. An Ethic of Care. Routledge, New York and London, 1993.Google Scholar
  25. Steven Levy. Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. Dell Publishing, New York, 1985.Google Scholar
  26. Genevieve Lloyd. The Man of Reason: 'Male' and 'Female' in Western Philosophy. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, 1984.Google Scholar
  27. Gillian Lovegrove and Barbara Segal, editors. Women into Computing: Selected Papers, 1988–1990. Springer-Verlag, London, 1991.Google Scholar
  28. Gael McDonald and Patrick C. Pak. It's All Fair in Love, War and Business: Cognitive Philosophies in Ethical Decision Making. Journal of Business Ethics, 15: 973–996, 1996.Google Scholar
  29. E. Sharon Mason and Peter E. Mudrack. Gender and Ethical Orientation: A Test of Gender and Occupational Socialization Theories. Journal of Business Ethics, 15: 599–604, 1996.Google Scholar
  30. Jacqueline Ofori-Amanfo. Gender Differences in Computer Ethics Decision Making. MSc dissertation, Department of Computation, UMIST, Manchester, UK, 1999.Google Scholar
  31. James E. Pitkow and Colleen M. Kehoe. Emerging Trends in the WWWUser Population. Communications of the ACM, 39(6): 106–108, 1996.Google Scholar
  32. Sara Ruddick. Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace. Beacon, Boston, MA, 1989.Google Scholar
  33. Richard A. Spinello. Case Studies in Information and Computer Ethics. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1997.Google Scholar
  34. Paul Taylor. Hackers: Crime and the Digital Sublime. Routledge, London and New York, 1999.Google Scholar
  35. Rosemarie Tong. Feminine and Feminist Ethics. Wadsworth, Belmont, CA, 1993.Google Scholar
  36. Rosemarie Tong. Feminist Thought: A Comprehensive Introduction. Routledge, London, 1994.Google Scholar
  37. Joan Tronto. Moral Boundaries: A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care. Routledge, New York and London, 1993.Google Scholar
  38. Margaret U. Walker. Moral Understandings: A Feminist Study in Ethics. Routledge, New York and London, 1998.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alison Adam
    • 1
  • Jacqueline Ofori-Amanfo
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ComputationUMISTManchesterUK.
  2. 2.Department of ComputationUMISTManchesterUK

Personalised recommendations