Technology is not masculine

February 24, 2010 at 10:08 pm 2 comments

I first learned that information technology in Malaysia is female-dominated at an NCWIT meeting last year, which I blogged on last May. (A blog post about which Skud was pretty unhappy.)  Now, a new book is out describing this phenomenon: “Masculinity, Power and Technology: A Malaysian Ethnography,” What I find most interesting about this is the sharp contrast with prevailing attitudes here. We in the West often see technology as obviously masculine — even our pre-teen Girl Scouts tell us that.  Yet, the Malaysian experience points out that the relationship is constructed, not innate.  This gives me hope that we can correct the misperception.  A relationship constructed can also be re-constructed.

“In the U.S., technology and masculinity are very connected, which is not the case in Malaysia,” said Ulf Mellstrom, a professor of gender and technology at Luleå University of Technology in Sweden and a Clayman faculty research fellow, who discussed the topic at a presentation called The Intersection of Gender, Race and Cultural Boundaries: or Why is Computer Science in Malaysia Dominated by Women? “In a short time, booming industrialization has created new opportunities for women while transforming and reforming established society.”

via Malaysian women redefine gender roles in technology | Gender News.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Erik Engbrecht  |  February 25, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Maybe we need more CS history? Most of the first programmers were women.

  • 2. thinkingwiththings  |  April 10, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Mark, I heard the talk at NCWIT too, and it was interesting and provocative. The reticence of women to participate in CS programs seems to be a particularly American phenomenon. As I recall, one of the ways in which Carnegie Mellon was able to get to male/female parity in undergraduate computing majors was by admitting more Asian or Asian-American women.


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