Liberal feminism conceives of technology as inherently neutral, and that women's ontologically pure relationship to it has been made problematic by relations of gender which have been overlaid. Technology itself is not submitted to critical analysis, and women themselves become the problem. Gender is both of prime significance and irrelevant to technology creation and practice in the liberal paradigm (Grint & Gill, 1995)A patriarchal society establishes the relationship between sexes and IT by: a) assigning women with tedious, eye-straining electronic assembly b) allowing men to predominate in the decision-making and design (Cockburn, 1983)
In the beginning of the twentieth century, capitalism favours interests of the dominant class. This Marxist social theory influences the later body of research which is later referred to as “the social shaping of technology” (Rosser, 2006). This implies that technology is not only a social product, but also comprises of human activities. The focus of socialist feminism is to place gender and class on equal stance in shaping technology. This dual system approach highlights the reinforcement of sexual division of labour and wage labour.Yet social shaping of technology has often been contextualised in terms of males but excluding females at all levels.
African American feminism uncovers the role of race in the distribution of the technology labour market. Women of colour are disproportionately distributed in the lowest paying and highest health-risk related parts of the technology workforce (Rosser, 2006). As knowledge and consideration of users are central to the technology design, a design team consisting of mixed gender and racial diversity are essential in creating diversity in technology design.
Eco-feminism represents one strand of essentialist feminism and is often used to support either superiority or inferiority of females to males, based on the sources of biological differences. Essentialist feminism states that females are united by their biology, including gender differences in spatial and verbal abilities and other behaviours (Rosser, 2006). An essentialist feminist approach also implies that males’ inability to conceive, make them shift their intention to control the right of developing technologies and to dominate the natural world and females (Easlea, 1983). The behavioural variable of aggression and its associated competitive nature of engineering and computer were studied by researchers as reasons that females have not entered these fields in great numbers.
Existentialist feminism suggests that instead of the biological differences, it is the value that society assigns to biological differences between males and females that had led women to play the role of “other” (Tong, 1980).Females’ roles as the predominant caretakers of babies and children result in more technologies invented for childcare by females than males. Males who spend less time doing tasks which most females fulfil, in terms are creating a language which is male-exclusive only.
Psychoanalytic theory as based on the Freudian theory assumes that biological differences will lead to different ways for young males and females, and this has been used to examine the construction of gender and sexuality during the oedipal stage of psychosexual development, which usually results in male dominance (Rosser, 2006).Encouraged to be independent, autonomous and distant, male computer scientists design technologies using a “hard-systems” approach which reflect those characteristics of masculinity and technology.In the end females as users of technology find technologies fails to deliver the results they need, since the technology design does not include their views, priorities and needs.
Radical feminism believes that patriarchy dominates all institutions, ideologies and technologies, therefore females experience difficulties in placing their experiences, lives and needs in everyday life and environments. Radical feminists believe in connection and conception of the world as an organic whole, they refuse dualistic, hierarchical approaches and dichotomies which fragment the organic whole of realityRadical feminists also argue that there are practically no alternative feminist technologies, as masculinity and patriarchy have become so deeply rooted in contemporary technologies and computer systems in our society.
Postmodernism dissolves the universal subject and postmodern feminism rejects the idea that all females speak in a unified voice or they should be universally addressed. Postmodern perspectives also stress that due to specific national, class and cultural identities, females can no longer be seen as uniform and homogenous (Rosser, 2006)Limitations of simplistic assumptions in technology designs ignore females’ needs and priorities, assuming that females are uniform across all social classes, nationalities and cultures.
Postcolonial feminists suggested that patriarchy dominates throughout the postcolonial and neo-colonial periods. Culture, science and technology of the coloniser or former colonising countries may still remain superior to that of the colony or postcolonial country (Rosser, 2006).Females from developing countries are preferred rather than those in developed countries for their high technical and English proficiency, relatively high productivity and low labour costs.Due to new technologies transcending boundaries of space and time, they were able to exploit sexual and racial divisions of labour.
Cyberfeminism stands as one of the most recent feminist theories and the theory that overtly fuses technology with gender. It also explores ways that IT provide venues to liberate or oppress females. Cyberfeminism sees the potential of the Internet and technologies as allowing new opportunities for jobs and creativity for women, thus providing a “women-centred perspective” (Millar, 1998).Some cyberfeminists argue that this theory may be an end to male superiority, as it offers a route for reconstructing feminist politics with a focus on the implications of new technologies rather than divisive factors (Paterson, 1994).
Q: What have the experts asked and said about gender and technology? Does technology liberate Men care about women and encourage establishing a hierarchy equality, or are the new whereas women care technologies reinforcing about connecting with sexual divisions in others… society? Womens reluctance to Does the problem lie in judge is...a recognition of men’s monopoly of the intricacies of real- technology, or is world situations, and the technology itself in some uniqueness of individuals sense patriarchal? experiences. - Judy Wajcman - Carol GilliganA cyborg is a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature ofsocial reality as well as a creature of fiction….Liberation rests on the construction of theconsciousness, the imaginative apprehension, ofoppression, and so of possibility.- Donna Haraway
What are the roles How does of technology affect you: in technology?
Grint and Gill (1995) state that there is a cultural association of technology with masculinity, Feminism interrogates the gendered process of exclusion and segregation of technology creation and use Webster (1995) argues that feminist analyses of technology mainly use: o liberal feminism o ecofeminism o socialist feminism
• Perceives technology as inherently neutral • Womens pure relationship to technology has been made problematic • Technology itself is not submitted to critical analysis, and women themselves become the problem • Gender is significant yet irrelevant to technology creation and practice (Grint & Gill, 1995)A patriarchal society establishes the How does thisrelationship between sexes and IT relate to theby: “gendering ofa) assigning women with technology”? tedious, eye-straining electronic assemblyb) allowing men to predominate in the decision-making and design (Cockburn, 1983)
• 20th century - capitalism favours interests of the • The focus: place dominant class gender and class on equal stance in• This Marxist social shaping theory influences which technology. is later referred to as “the social shaping of • Reinforces sexual technology” division of labour (Rosser, 2006). and wage labour.• Technology is not only a social product but also comprises of Yet social shaping of technology human activities has often been contextualised in terms of males but excluding females at all levels.
Women of colour aredisproportionately African Americandistributed in the lowest feminism uncoverspaying and highest the role of race inhealth-risk related parts the distribution ofof the technology the technologyworkforce labour market.(Rosser, 2006). What benefits can female engineers As knowledge and consideration of from other races users are central to the technology bring to the design, a design team consisting design and of mixed gender and racial production of diversity are essential in creating technologies? diversity in technology design.
Females are united by biology, including • Eco-feminism gender differences in represents one spatial and verbal strand of essentialist abilities and other feminism behaviours (Rosser, • Used to explain 2006). either superiority or inferiority of females to males, based on biological differencesMales’ inability toconceive make themshift their intention tocontrol the right of The behavioural variable ofdeveloping aggression and its associatedtechnologies and to competitive nature ofdominate the natural engineering and computerworld and females science explain why females(Easlea, 1983). have not entered these fields in great numbers.
Existentialist feminism Females’ roles as thesuggests the value that predominantsociety assigns to caretakers of babiesbiological differences and children result inbetween males and more technologiesfemales make women invented for childcarethe “other” by females than(Tong, 1980). males. Males who spend Can you think of less time doing gender specific tasks which most technologies females fulfil create produced by the a language which is opposite sex? male-exclusive Why? only.
• Based on the Freudian • Male computer theory scientists design technologies using a• Biological differences “hard-systems” lead to different ways approach for young males and females • Encouraged to be independent, autonomo• Male dominance is us and distant examined during the construction of gender • Reflect characteristics and sexuality in the of masculinity oedipal stage of psychosexual Females as users of technology: development • find technologies fails to deliver (Rosser, 2006) the results they need, • the design does not include their views, priorities and needs.
Beliefs:• patriarchy dominates • Believes in all institutions, connection and ideologies and conception of the technologies world as an organic whole• females experience difficulties in placing • Refuses their experiences, dualistic, hierarchic lives and needs in al approaches and everyday life and dichotomies which environments. fragment the organic whole of reality How do men • Practically no alternative limit women’s feminist technologies power/positio n in • Masculinity and patriarchy technology? have become so deeply rooted in contemporary technologies
Rejects the idea Females can no that all females longer be seen as speak in a unified homogenous due to voice or they specific should be national, class and universally cultural identities addressed. (Rosser, 2006).Simplistic assumptions intechnology designs:• ignore females’ needs andpriorities• assume females are uniformacross all social classes,nationalities and cultures
Central beliefs:• patriarchy dominates throughout the postcolonial and Females from neo-colonial periods developing countries are preferred for:• culture, science and • high technical & technology of the English proficiency coloniser or former • relatively high colonising countries productivity may still remain • low labour costs superior (Rosser, 2006) What do you know of the technology Due to new technologies taking place transcending boundaries between the of space and time, they former colonies and the were able to exploit colonisers? sexual and racial divisions of labour.
• The theory that overtly fuses technology with Believes in the potential of gender the Internet and technologies as allowing• Explores ways IT new opportunities for jobs provide venues to and creativity for women liberate or oppress (Millar, 1998). females This theory may be an end to male superiority because it: • offers a route for reconstructing feminist politics • focuses on the implications of new technologies rather than divisive factors (Paterson, 1994)
Research Problem • Limited numbers of females studying information technology (IT) • Only 20% of commencing students were female in 2004 • Lack of female participation in Australian IT tertiary educationResearch Question What are the factors influencing female undergraduates’ participation in CS degrees in Australia?Postmodern feminist approach examines:• the constructions of gender in a socially constructed, hegemonic male space• the qualities which females may need to bring into a male world to succeed• the learning approaches by gender • Males prefer a formal, hierarchical planning approach
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Cockburn, C. (1983). Brothers: Male dominance and technological change. London: Pluto Press.Easlea, B. (1983). Fathering the unthinkable: Masculinity, scientists and the nuclear arms race. London: Pluto Press.Grint, K., & Gill, R. (1995). The gender-technology relation: Contemporary theory and research. London: Taylor and Francis.Heeks, R. B. (1993). Software contracting to the third world. In P. Quintas (Ed.), Social dimensions of systems engineering: People, processes, policies and software development (pp. 236-250). Elmsford, New York: Pergamon Press.Millar, M. S. (1998). Cracking the gender code: Who rules the wired world? Toronto: Second Story Press.Paterson, N. (1994). Cyberfeminism. Retrieved March, 29, 2010, from http://internetfrauen.w4w.net/archiv/cyberfem.txtRosser, S. V. (2006). Using the lenses of feminist theories to focus on women and technology. In M. F. Fox, D. G. Johnson & S. V. Rosser (Eds.), Women, gender and technology (pp. 13-46). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Tong, R. (1980). Feminist thought: A comprehensive introduction. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.Webster, J. (1995). Shaping womens work: Gender, employment and information technology. New York: Longman.