Gender and technology, Stereotypes ...
Technologies have an important part of our everyday life. The gender of a person who uses the technology has got an interesting role, but the image of the use of technology is a bit stereotyped: “Certain technologies are perceived as masculine in society, such as computing technology, fast cars spacecraft or construction tools; whereas other technologies, like kitchen tools or beauty tools, are commonly associated with feminity”
The technology has an influence on gender relations, but gender relations can also influence technology.
To understand this, we have to take a look at the history of the design of technology. Most of the technologies were invented by men.
But new researches on gender and technology have shown that there have been also women who invented or designed technologies. We have to notice the beginnings of computer programming. At this time, it wasn’t a well-paid and good job and partly of this fact, “some of the earliest computer programmers were women” Perhaps women are not mentioned in the history of technologies because this is an area which is normally associated with men.
Is the gender still important in a society where information and knowledge dominate?
The Internet use is balanced between the two sexes, so there isn’t a problem anymore of an equal use in the developed world. But men and women still have other expectation of the design of technology and use technology in a different way than men. “Women distance themselves from technology, while men construct a close relationship with technology.”
These can be explanations for the fact, that women don’t have the courage to join technical business or education. The technical business guarantees a higher status in society and a regular income. It’s necessary that our society change the technology in relation to gender. Women and men are different in their behaviour, but both have the right to have an equal chance for a technical education and a well-paid job with technology.
Men and Women and the younger generation the boys and girls are different in their behaviour and so that’s the reason why men or boys and women or girls have different demands on technology.
Women are more minimalist minded than men, because men tend to buy for themselves the maximum of the available technology. Men always need the very latest Design and Tool in opposite to the women who normally use the technology which is at the house.
Female persons prefer technology which is easy to handle and which have a good-looking design.
The design plays an important role for the women, but also for men. In the first place what women think about technical tools is that the technology has to be well matched to the surroundings. For the men, buying new technology is for the most part a spontaneous decision. They see a new tool or anybody tells them about a new technology they can’t react guardedly, e.g. when they hear from an exhaust which makes a better sound for their motorbike they have to buy this and there is no way around, why nobody can throw them off course. Women are inclined to buy things which are more functional, realistic, and practical and their machinery they buy is in line with their requirements. They buy for example new technology when the technical things they had before is not any longer usable. Women don’t go shopping for new technology; first of all they use the things which are available at home. In contrast to the female behavior the men see buying new technology more as an event. To acquire the latest technology is trendy for the men.
This example shows the shopping behavior of men and women very well: When men have to work in the house holding, for instance when they have to cook in the kitchen, the first thing that they do is to buy a new collection of pots.
In this case women tend more to use the things which are available in the kitchen to prepare a meal. Men buy sometimes things they don’t really need before, but they have the aim to have the biggest flat screen or latest technology only as an object of prestige, it’s like a trophy for them. Men are always in almost all situations ready for a competition on the contrary to the women who don’t do this normally.
These ideas of technology are of course natural for the younger generation. Mom and dad are as an example for the boys and girls and often the children react as their parents. We see, that there are a lot of differences, but what have led to these, in most parts opposing, expectations of technology in our society?
Men and women, boys and girls are influenced by the society and by their family. Boys tend to play computer games or games at games consoles. In most cases they like Games which are violent, aggressive and have a lot of action whereas girls prefer it to play with their dolls.
This is a cliché which is true in a lot of cases, but I have to take a look at their behavior of technology. Girls don’t know what’s to do with computers and so they become dissatisfied with the technology in contrast to the boys who grew up with the knowledge that their computers are as a friend for them. There are a lot of Stereotypes that girls aren’t good at computers. Parents and teachers are also influenced by these stereotypes and so it is harder for girls to persuade the others that they know how to handle computers. Boys are privileged by their parents and teachers to use computers and the girls are treated a bit unfair because the boys are certified to be the “superior sex for computer ability” Technology, science and math are regarded as areas for men and boys. There are a lot of women doing this, nearly as much as the men, but it is harder for the women and girls because of “the potential negative evaluation caused by the stereotype”
These traditional role models are also influenced by the advertising in TV and magazines. The media shows to the men and women how they have to react in society and so the media defines what technology is actually in or out .
But in spite of this the most important factors who can influence a human being at the beginning of his life and of course in the whole life are his or her parents.
The parents decide on the technology they offer to their children. Studies show, that parents spend more money for the boy’s computers. It isn’t necessary to encourage the boys to use a computer at home, but this is different with girls. “Whether it is playing a game, researching material, writing e-mail or doing homework, girls need to be encouraged to spend time on the family’s computer.” The parents and the teachers have the order to ensure that boys and girls are given an equal access and that both become a feeling for technology.
The problems of the stereotype have to be reduced and they don’t apply for all people. A solution for this problem could be single sex schools or single sex classes.
Joel Cooper, Kimberlee D. Weaver (2003) Gender and Computers: understanding the digital divide, Mahwah, NJ; London, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Elisabeth K. Kelan “The Politics of Gender and Technology”, (Jan-Kyrre Berg Olsen) (2009) A companion to the philosophy of technology, Malden, Massachusetts, Wiley-Blackwell
Erik Jones “European Politics, Economy and Technology”, (Jan-Kyrre Berg Olsen) (2009) A companion to the philosophy of technology, Malden, Massachusetts, Wiley-Blackwell
Wenhong Chen, Berry Wellman “Charting Digital Divides”, (William H. Dutton) (2005) Transforming Enterprise, Cambridge, Massachusetts, The MIT Press