Breaking the “Glass Slipper”: What Diversity Interventions Can Learn from the Historical Evolution of Occupational Identity in ICT and Commercial Aviation

  • Karen Lee AshcraftEmail author
  • Catherine Ashcraft
Part of the History of Computing book series (HC)


This chapter examines parallels in the evolution of two occupational identities – commercial airline flying and ICT work – and the implications for current diversification interventions. We begin by conceptualizing occupational identity and diversification through the “glass slipper” metaphor. We then demonstrate the empirical potential of this framework with a cross-case analysis of how these dynamics are at play in the historical evolution of the aforementioned professions. Finally, we consider how these cases, weighed together, implicate scholars and practitioners, especially research on technical-scientific work and so-called diversity interventions in ICT occupations.


Social Identity Figurative Practitioner Occupational Segregation Occupational Identity Airline Pilot 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Abbott, Andrew. 1998. Professionalism and the future of librarianship. Library Trends 46(3): 430–443.Google Scholar
  2. Ashcraft, Karen Lee. 2005. Resistance through consent? Occupational identity, organizational form, and the maintenance of masculinity among commercial airline pilots. Management Communication Quarterly 19: 67–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ashcraft, Karen Lee. 2006. Back to work: sights/sites of difference in gender and organizational communication studies. In The SAGE handbook of gender and communication, ed. Bonnie Dow and Julia T. Wood, 97–122. Thousand Oaks: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ashcraft, Karen Lee. 2007. Appreciating the “work” of discourse: occupational identity and difference as organizing mechanisms in the case of commercial airline pilots. Discourse & Communication 1: 9–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ashcraft, Karen Lee. 2013. The glass slipper: “incorporating” occupational identity in management studies. Academy of Management Review 38(1): 6–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ashcraft, Catherine. 2014. Increasing the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in computing: missing perspectives and new directions. Orlando: National Science Foundation Computer Science Education Summit.Google Scholar
  7. Ashcraft, Karen Lee, and Dennis K. Mumby. 2004. Reworking gender: a feminist communicology of organization. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  8. Ashcraft, Catherine, Elizabeth Eger, and Michelle Friend. 2012a. Girls in IT: the facts. Boulder: National Center for Women & Information Technology.Google Scholar
  9. Ashcraft, Karen Lee, Sara Louise Muhr, Jens Rennstam, and Katie R. Sullivan. 2012b. Professionalization as a branding activity: occupational identity and the dialectic of inclusivity-exclusivity. Gender, Work and Organization 19(5): 467–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ashcraft, Catherine, Wendy DuBow, Elizabeth Eger, Sarah Blithe, and Brian Sevier. 2013. Male advocates and allies: promoting gender diversity in technology workplaces. Boulder: National Center for Women & Information Technology.Google Scholar
  11. Berliner, David C., and Bruce J. Biddle. 1995. The manufactured crisis: myths, fraud, and the attack on America’s public schools. Reading: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  12. Britton, Dana M. 2000. The epistemology of the gendered organization. Gender and Society 14: 418–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Charles, Maria, and David B. Grusky. 2004. Occupational ghettos: the worldwide segregation of women and men. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Corn, Joesph J. 1979. Making flying “unthinkable”: women pilots and the selling of aviation, 1927–1940. American Quarterly 31: 556–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Corneliussen, Hilde G. 2010. Cultural perceptions of computers in Norway 1980–2007. In Gender codes: why women are leaving computing, ed. Tom Misa, 165–186. Hoboken: Wiley Press.Google Scholar
  16. Ensmenger, Nathan. 2010a. Making programming masculine. In Gender codes: why women are leaving computing, ed. Tom Misa, 115–142. Hoboken: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ensmenger, Nathan. 2010b. The computer boys take over: computers, programmers, and the politics of technical expertise. Cambridge: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hearn, Jeff. 1982. Notes on patriarchy: professionalization and the semi-professions. Sociology 16(2): 184–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hicks, Marie. 2010. Meritocracy and feminization in conflict: computerization in the British government. In Gender codes: why women are leaving computing, ed. Tom Misa, 115–142. Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  20. Hopkins, George E. 1998. The airline pilots: a study in elite unionization. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Kaufman, Ron. 1992. NRC Report Sparks Debate Among Computer Scientists. The Scientist, November 9, 1992.Google Scholar
  22. Kelan, Elisabeth K. 2008. Emotions in a rational profession: the gendering of skills in ICT work. Gender, Work and Organization 15(1): 49–71.Google Scholar
  23. Kirkham, Linda M., and Anne Loft. 1993. Gender and the construction of the professional accountant. Accounting, Organizations and Society 18(6): 507–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kurtz, Howard G. 1953. The common man up in the air. The Airline Pilot: 22: 18–21.Google Scholar
  25. Lay, Beirne Jr. 1941. Airman. Fortune: 23: 122–123.Google Scholar
  26. Light, Jennifer. 2003. Programming. In Gender and technology: a reader, ed. Nina E. Lerman, Ruth Oldenziel, and Arwen P. Mohun. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Macmillan, Douglas. 2012. The rise of the brogrammer. Bloomberg Business, March 1.Google Scholar
  28. Martyn, T.J.C. 1929. Women find a place among the fliers. The New York Times, August 27.Google Scholar
  29. Mills, Albert J. 1998. Cockpits, hangars, boys and galleys: corporate masculinities and the development of British Airways. Gender, Work and Organization 5: 172–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Misa, Tom. 2010. Gender codes: lessons from history. In Gender codes: why women are leaving computing, ed. Tom Misa, 251–264. Hoboken: Wiley Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mody, Rustom P. 1992. Is programming an art? Software Engineering Notes 17(4): 19–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Munyan, A.T. Circa. 1929/1930. The ninety-nines. Museum of Women Pilots. No publication title.Google Scholar
  33. Suellentrop, Chris. 2014. Can video games survive? The Disheartening GamerGate Campaign. New York Times, October 25.Google Scholar
  34. Tynan, Dan. 2011. IT turf wars: the most common feuds in tech. InfoWorld, February 14.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CommunicationUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.National Center for Women & Information TechnologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

Personalised recommendations