The subject of this thesis is the impact of computerisation in the Swedish insurance industry from a gender perspective. Do women, by using computers obtain a greater control over the company's organisation (does the new technology act as systems transforming) or are control and use separated according to the principles of the gender system (does the new technology act as systems preserving)? The overall question for this thesis is to ascertain whether it is occupational status or gender that is crucial for employees' experience of computerisation. The thesis explores more deeply three specific areas, namely (1) the relationship between computerisation, work structure and qualifications, (2) employees' experience of work environment, power and influence in a computerised work setting, and (3) the cultural aspects in a computerised work setting. Empirical data were collected mainly through a survey. Archival data were also used in order to analyse numerical changes in the most typical occupations in the industry and changes in the levels of qualifications within these occupations. The overall result showed a gendered division of labour, where men were found in some occupations and women in others. Some structural changes could be connected with the computerisation: women were making inroads into occupations like marketing and computer specialist jobs. The feminization of the industry was obvious. The results also showed homogeneity between men and women and between different occupational groups in almost all of the aspects related to work environment issues. Moreover, the results showed that the power structures were bound to the occupational structures within the insurance professions in a consistent way. Within high-status occupations affiliation was crucial for how employees experienced their possibilities of influencing the organisation. Within occupations with low status, on the other hand, gender seemed to be crucial. The computer was perceived in very pragmatic terms for instance as a useful tool or something that is practical and necessary. In addition to that it could mean a "possibility", "development", a "vision", and "a simplification". The results were mainly the same for men and women. In conclusion, if one considers purely structural factors, one can argue that the division between men and women in the industry still is very large, which implies that the erasure of traditional boundaries has not processed very far yet, despite the continuing computerisation. With regard to how employees experience computerisation, it seems that there has been an erasure of boundaries in that men and women perceive computerised work in a similar way. The connection between technology and power and influence and gender, anyhow, seems to be complex and ambiguous.
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 1997. , 362 p.