Compromising gender identities: Stay strategies of women in gender-atypical information technology firms in Sri Lanka

Kanchana Wijayawardena, Nilupama Wijewardena, Ramanie Samaratunge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Given the limited research on women in information technology (IT) sectors in emerging economies and the importance of understanding their experiences working in highly gendered IT firms, the purpose of this paper is to examine the specific gendered strategies used by women engineers to stay in gender-atypical IT firms in Sri Lanka using job embeddedness as a theoretical lens. Design/methodology/approach: Data collection was done through in-depth interviews and focus group discussions on a sample of 14 women engineers employed in five leading IT firms in Sri Lanka. Findings: Respondents perceived the work role expectations in the Sri Lankan IT industry as masculine. Respondents compromised their own gender identities to engage in four distinct strategies to link and fit with the prevailing work role expectations. “Using a hybrid style” and “being passive and neutral” were respondents’ link strategies, while “adopting masculine traits” and “demonstrating self-confidence” related to their fit strategies. Research limitations/implications: Men and women who aspire to enter the IT sector need to be pre-prepared and educated about the characteristics of IT cultures and prevailing gender norms along with the subject knowledge. Managers of IT firms need to create positive work environments for their women employees that aid them to fit and link with their workplaces. Originality/value: The study provides a deeper understanding of how women manage gender-related issues within gender-atypical IT firms in Sri Lanka and stay in their employment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-264
Number of pages19
JournalInformation Technology & People
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Developing countries
  • Digital divide
  • Discourse analysis
  • Gendered organizations
  • Information technology
  • Job embeddedness

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