Friday, June 1, 2007

Katie King: Women in the Web

Katie King is a woman that works in women’s studies teaching university courses on contemporary meanings of word processing and the Web. Her interdisciplinary field she titled “Feminism and Writing Technologies," investigates oral and print cultures, new cybercultures, and the feminist investigations of technosciences. By the description of one of her classes, it seems that it parallels our own with its usage web interface and website design.
A topic that King addresses in this text, that was mentioned by Julianne in her post, is the idea that technology is largely considered masculine.
She discusses how the title of her class tends to scare off women who are naturally inclined toward literary aspects as opposed to technical ones. Women come into her class claiming that they have little or no experience with technology, writing off sewing machines, stoves, televisions and music players as simple domestics. It really is a strange phenomenon that there is this masculinity in the field of technology, and it is something I have wondered about since there isn't any clear cut reason for why it is the case.

When I first learned about Second Life, I was initially not thrilled to partake in the exploration of this new world. It looked as though I was going to have to enter a video game land characteristic of teenage boys. I couldn’t help but feel that I was slightly disadvantaged in my interactive abilities in Second Life. It is strange to feel immediately out of your element in any locale, but this case, I felt especially unsure as a girl. That is not to say that I have never been exposed to videogame elements before. Growing up, I was drawn to Tetris and Lincoln Logs, slightly more gender neutral than Barbie dolls. Yet, the typical childhood upbringing of boys entails much more computer-oriented activity. There are very few guys I know who do not own an Xbox or N64 or Playstation. We do have a Nintendo player tucked away somewhere in my house, but I received it as a gift from a crazy uncle and never really got into it.

That being said, I don’t think that women should be discouraged to interact with this technology since it is clearly the way of the future. I work at the Information Technology Help Desk in the Kenna Lab, as one of 4 girls on a staff of 15. Students oftentimes do not think I work in IT when I am sitting at the desk, which can be irritating. When I am working with a male on the staff, it is typical for people to go out of their way to talk to him about their questions. There's nothing I love more than fixing a guy's computer when he clearly thinks I am incompetent.

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