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About the Project

This research project aims to explore the gendered experiences of Sri Lankan IT professionals during the Pandemic, and particularly emerging from the working-from-home initiatives. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption in all spheres of life globally The nature of the crisis has made it impossible to carry on business and employment activities the conventional way. It suddenly became mandatory for many professionals to WFH and not a mere choice.

The social structure among Sri Lankan families and especially gendered roles which are entwined into Sri Lankan families may play a part in leading to varied perceptions and experiences. Hence this research is intended to explore and gain insight into the gendered differences of the WFH experience undergone specifically by information technology industry personals as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

Why IT Professionals?

The Information Technology (IT) related service industry has been an increasingly important sector for the Sri Lankan Economy. The Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies (2021) projects the industry to achieve USD 5 Billion in exports within the next few years. It is pertinent to study the dynamics involved in this expanding service industry.

IT jobs may be taken for granted for their inherent possibility to transition into WFH neglecting gendered experiences and disadvantages. The IT industry worldwide, in line with STEM jobs, is largely a male-dominated arena. To improve the situation it is important to understand and learn about the gendered nature in the industry.

In Sri Lanka too, though it is said that gender equity has progressively improved, the figures say that female participation in the IT industry is still at an average of 37% in 2018 (SLASSCOM,2019/20), which depicts that gendered patterns of employment do exist.

The COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdowns have acted as a catalyst in this digital era for WFH, also termed as the new norm or the new normal, which forced to remodel employment at large and some changes are likely to continue even after the pandemic. Companies too have shown interest to promote the new work culture, sometimes as a hybrid culture, as they find WFH to be more productive and costeffective. Hence, the gendered impact too will continue marginalizing women.

Project Aims and Outcomes

This is a qualitative research project intended to explore the lived experiences of IT professionals of working from home amidst the pandemic and lockdowns. Data will be gathered through a series of indepth interviews, also representing the diverse social context in Sri Lanka. This data will be analyzed thematically to produce insights which would be helpful to achieve the following research objectives:

• Understand the gendered nature of the IT profession in Sri Lanka
• Understand the IT professionals’ perceptions of working-from-home experience
during the pandemic.
• Explore how gender disadvantage operates among IT professionals working
from home during the pandemic.
• Understand the gendered nature of the impact of working-from-home on worklife balance and well-being as experienced differently by male and female IT
professionals during the pandemic.
• Make recommendations for policymakers, managers, and practitioners
facilitating gender equality, employee well-being, and work-life balance in the case
of IT professionals during and after the pandemic.