Monday, October 11, 2004

The BBC on Gender and Tech

Fresh from the BBC: Technology's gender balancing act: "But there is a fine line between making technologies appeal to wider audiences [women, in this article] and patronising that audience with devices that look pretty but do not do much."

Absolutely. Good article. There is discussion of the women-oriented gadgets rolling off production lines, but also discussion of what the gadget-makers think women want: shoe- and clothing-size converters for the "fasionista;" interchangeable laptop skins, lipstick memory sticks, etc.

There's a nice bit about how women maybe don't need "different" tech, but a different approach: women aren't marketed to in the same way that men are. The solution for some? Blogs by and for women, about tech and gadgets.

The article ends with a consideration of one of the most male-oriented technologies of all: the car. Designed predominantly by men for men, cars have traditionally not been women- or kid-friendly. Volvo, though, has taken a different approach with a recent concept car:

The YCC was designed by women and for people

Lena Ekelund, engineer and leader of the all-women team behind the YCC Volvo, Your Concept Car, says the technology industry needs to look beyond preconceptions.

"They are stereotyping in a way that is not necessarily accurate. They should be focusing on making user-friendly products, because that is what we did with the car. We had a look at what functionality would improve your life."

The YCC was not designed specifically for women, she stresses, but for "people".

The fact that it looks so different and has oodles of storage space for bags, mobiles, as well as removable, customisable seat covers has nothing to do with the fact it was designed by an all-woman team.

very interesting. makes me want to dig back into the gender and technology literature. And the car bit makes me think of Dale Spender's dicussion of interstate systems, the L.A. freeways as described in Barrio Logos, and the information superhighway metaphor in general. In any case, it's good to see gender and technology getting play in the media!

- posted by laurie @ 10/11/2004 07:57:00 AM
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