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Department of Social Sciences

Digitalisierung, Arbeit und Geschlechter­verhältnisse am Beispiel der Sachbearbeitung in Dienstleistung und Industrie (DAGS)

04/01/2018 - 10/31/2021

The aim of the research project is to analyze the connections between digitization, work and gender relations. The focus is on analyzing workflows, design processes and the use of digital technologies in case processing.

The project is sponsored by the Hans Böckler Foundation.

The digitization of work is on the rise, affecting almost all areas of the economy, but in different forms. Processes of digitization of work by no means reveal clear development paths. The project examines the interrelationships between digitization, work and gender relations in the area of clerical work in industry and the service sector.

Clerical work involves planning, organizing, calculating and controlling, and it exists in almost every company. The work is done with the help of computers and corresponding programs in digital networks. A multitude of information is available, enabling new forms of work, collaboration and evaluation of this data. Processing is changing. Tasks are being standardized, outsourced or eliminated, are becoming more demanding or are being created from scratch as a result of digitization processes. Processing has always been an area in which the proportion of women is high and in which technical developments are relevant to the work. The research is guided by the assumption that processes of digitization can offer occasions to renegotiate gender relations, to question power relations, role attributions and divisions of labor.

In order to identify the potential for change through digitization, it is necessary to critically analyze the design processes in the processing of cases as social processes of change in existing negotiated and established orders. Questions to be answered in the context of the project include:

1. how can digitization contribute to gender-equitable work and technology design? 2. how can existing gender knowledge be changed in processes of digitalization? 3) What could a sustainable concept of good gender-equitable work look like? 4. how can emancipatory potentials for women and men also arise in these processes of work and technology design, and how can they be used?

The research project aims to investigate the connections between digitization, work and gender relations in the field of clerical work in various industrial and service sectors. The aim is to analyze the processes of change and the shaping of work and technology from a gender perspective and to work out possible ways of shaping the relationship between digitization, work and gender. In addition to scientific results, the aim is also to develop very concrete knowledge for action and orientation and to arrive at more general insights into the possibilities of gender-equitable work and technology design.

The core of the study consists of six case studies in areas of commercial and administrative processing in industrial and service companies. After an evaluation of publications, studies and documents, statistical analyses as well as labor market forecasts, guideline-based interviews with inter-company experts are conducted to explore the research field.

The company case studies include the analysis of existing documents, interviews with representatives from management, human resources and organizational departments, technology and software development, company interest groups and equal opportunity representatives, as well as conducting interviews and group discussions with employees and feeding back the results to the companies. Cross-evaluation and generalization of the results form the conclusion of the empirical phase, publication and discussion of the results the conclusion of the project.