Information and Communication Technology Literacy for Women in Sustainable Employment

Streamed Session

Brief Abstract

The work force has needed to deal more effectively with ever-increasing amounts and types of information, increasingly by leveraging technology. These changes call for ICT  literacy, which is unevenly addressed, especially for women are under-represented industries. These realities lead to economic and digital inequity. This session discusses partnership among SkillsCommon, WISE  and MERLOT to build digital equity for women seeking sustainable employment. 


Dr. Lesley Farmer, Professor at California State University Long Beach, coordinates the Librarianship program. She earned her M.S. in Library Science at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and received her doctorate in Adult Education from Temple University. Dr. Farmer has worked as a teacher-librarian in K-12 school settings as well as in public, special and academic libraries. She chairs the IFLA's School Libraries Section. A frequent presenter and writer for the profession, she won American Library Association's 2011 Phi Beta Mu Award for library education and the 2015 Library Instruction Round Table Librarian Recognition Award. Dr. Farmer's research interests include digital citizenship, information literacy, collaboration, assessment and data analysis; she is also a Fulbright scholar. Her most recent books are Information and Digital Literacies: A Curricular Guide for Middle and High School Librarians (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).

Extended Abstract

            As the workplace has become more complex, the work force has needed to deal more effectively with ever-increasing amounts and types of information, increasingly by leveraging technology. These changes call for ICT (information and communication technology) literacy.

            Typically, information literacy is associated with individual competencies, with some reference to cooperative work. In the workplace, however, information literacy also takes on an organizational role. Indeed, Drucker (1992) asserted that organizations need to become information literate: determining what information is needed, in that format, and so forth.  Choo (1996) contended that organizations use information to construct meaning (particularly of external changes and development), create knowledge through organizational learning, and make decisions.  Choo further stated that organizational decision behavior is bounded by the information available and the workers’ cognitive ability to deal with information, including its selection and interpretation. This need for information literacy seems particularly obvious for learning organizations who focus on competitive intelligence and other outside factors, leveraging that knowledge to solve organizational problems and improve using in-house resources. Nevertheless, the term information literary is rarely touted even in this arena.

            Currently, much of learning that deals with information literacy, even if not so termed, happens informally through on-the-job skills-based training: setting up account files, filing materials, analyzing monthly reports. Entering employees routinely get oriented to organizational intranets and other information systems. Workers ask their peers and supervisors for just-in-time advice on information tasks or use of ICT tools, or they get such training when they perform inadequately. As timely as such informal instruction may be, it results in uneven information literacy competence, and makes for a loss than optimum productivity. Especially as functions are interdependent, a more systematic approach to information literacy is needed in order to advance the organization as a whole.

            Within that situation, women typically get less ICT training and practice than men. Furthermore, women are under-represented in manufacturing, IT, transportation, and construction. These realities lead to economic and digital inequity.

            To address this issue, has partnered with WISE (Women in Sustainable Employment) Pathways ( to build digital equity for financial, economic and digital inclusion, especially for women seeking sustainable employment. The key target educational institutions are community colleges. As part of this effort, MERLOT’s ICT literacy project ( has developed self-paced tutorials (  and, training modules ( and,  and bookmark collections ( to support ICT AND media literacy.