December 9, 2005

Women, as depicted in video games

A story on Slashdot today points to an article (which is currently "Slashdotted") about the rather cartoony "va-va-voom" way that women's bodies are rendered in video games.

The GamerGirl team over at has an interesting article delving into a male driven industry. This time the subject of discussion is the sometimes overzealous portrayal of women in games." A well-considered piece, with thoughtful references to the works of Camille Paglia and Naomi Wolf. From the article: "He also highlights several games that, instead of focusing on the female form in its big-breasted glory, showcase women who are intelligent, strong, and powerful. He insists, 'The protagonists highlighted above illustrate that plenty of excitement can be provided by female leads who will, in turn, bring in female gamers - not to speak of richer gameplay options. Additionally, as McIntosh says, most women gamers are "confident enough not to feel threatened" by sexist imagery, merely finding it annoying and disappointing.'"

In the ensuing discussion, one Slashdotter was moved to make this inspiring statement:

"I'd rather live in a society where female video game characters are portrayed the way horny teen males wold [sic] have them rather than a society where character designs are dictated to you in the name of equality."

Normally, Womeninit tries not to dabble in sarcasm, but is this time moved to enquire whether there's a third option on offer... 

September 29, 2004

Significant contributions by women (but I won't do a complete stranger's homework)

I received this comment on the blog today:

what are some of the most significant contributions that women have made in technology over the years? when you get this can you right me back because i'm in the computer fair and i will really like to knopw some answers from you

I don't respond personally to requests like this, unfortunately (I work full-time and can barely keep up with my own work, let alone somebody else's homework!) but did want to point this person and others to the following websites:

The main thing all the women inventors had in common, though was... they worked hard. And I hope that this requester will do the same so she can go on to make her own contributions to the world.

June 2, 2004

"HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux"

From LinuxChix, this document originated in the comments of women who attended a "Birds of a Feather" (BOF) gathering and had some thoughts about what prevents women from becoming part of the tech community. "While we represent the women who 'made it,' we still have fairly important insights into why other women left or never entered the Linux community, as well as being keenly aware of the pressures which are currently pushing us out of the community." (Hint: sexist jokes and the word "bitch" are no-nos. Wow, is that, like, not totally obvious already? Explains a lot!)


April 21, 2004

Gender, Technology and Development

A random search on Google for "gender technology" found me this journal, which focuses on the relationships between gender and technological developments, with an additional twist: "The diverse perspectives of the Asian region provide the main focus but dialogues along East-West and North-South lines are also an important aspect of the journal." Irritatingly, you can't see any of its contents online even the TOC doesn't seem to be available but individual subscriptions are relatively affordable (well, by academic journal standards), and it's possible that your local university library has it.

--> Gender, Technology and Development, SAGE Publications,

November 25, 2003

"A Gendered World: Students and Instructional Technologies"

Somehow I missed this when it came out, but earlier this year, these folks at the University of York (in Canada) did a study on gender and its influence on the use (or non-use) of instructional technology. (Because the author of this site is secretly a 6th-grader at heart, she must confess that she chuckled at the sentence "Kantrowitz (1996) notes: 'Focusing on the tool itself' is a male tendency and 'focusing on the utility of the tool' is a female tendency." Please forgive her.)

--> "A Gendered World: Students and Instructional Technologies", Indhu Rajagopal and Nis Bojin, First Monday, Volume 8, Number 1 / January 6th 2003, issue8_1/rajagopal/

January 24, 2003

Technology & Equity

Out of a partnership between the Academy for Educational Development and Cisco comes this report which looks at women's access to the Internet and IT in several countries, including Brazil and Canada (but omits the United States). "Unless women and marginalized populations participate fully in IT, they risk missing significant opportunities for economic, political, and social empowerment that IT can facilitate."

About the Academy for Educational Development: "AED is committed to helping women and marginalized populations in developing countries obtain access to IT, gain IT education and training, and apply skills to employment and problem solving in their communities. Toward this goal, AED seeks to stimulate dialogue on the gender gap in the digital divide by sharing data and research on gender and IT from the United States and the regions in which we work."


January 11, 2003

Women in Engineering Programs & Advocates Network (WEPAN)

Founded in 1990 and supported by Purdue University, the University of Michigan, and Stevens Institute of Technology, this organization aims to increase the number of women working in the engineering profession. The website offers information on grants, scholarships, and fellowships available, engineering departments at universities around the country, and an extensive bibliography. A members-only section also offers an extensive set of education and salary statistics. Keep digging around — there's a lot here and if they keep adding to it, it's worth frequently revisits.


Java, Women and the Culture of Computing

"Why is Java the name of a new programming language? How does the language of computing shape the field? Does the culture of computing determine who is attracted to the field? Why is the popular programming tool package called 'Code Warrior'? Might the software sell as well if it were called 'Code Quilter'?" An examination of the language and assumptions around computing and how they can discourage girls from entering the computer field. From the Proceedings of the 12th Annual Conference of the National Advisory Committee on Computing Qualifications, July 1999, Dunedin, New Zealand.


November 24, 2002

Center for Women & Information Technology

I've mentioned this site before for its news coverage, but it is important in its own right. For one thing, the webmaster updated it today — a Sunday! That's dedication. Seriously, this is the most comprehensive resource of its type that I've found so far. "The Center has a four-fold mission: to encourage more women and girls to study computer science and/or information systems and to pursue careers in IT; to enable all women and girls to use IT comfortably and knowledgeably; to assure that the richness and breadth of women's lives and concerns are fully represented and readily available on the Internet; to foster research concerning the relationship between gender and IT."


Women, Technology, and the Military

OK, actually the page doesn't have a title, and it has a fair sprinkling of misspellings... the danger of relying on Microsoft Word to create your web pages! Look past that for an interesting survey of technological and social issues facing women in the military, by a student in Women Studies 582 at San Diego State.


November 13, 2002

ItrainOnline: Resources for Women

A set of internet-related training resources aimed particularly at women, this page is part of a joint initiative by six organizations working in developing countries in the Southern Hemisphere.


November 11, 2002

Gender Issues in Computer Science Education

What aren't more girls choosing computer science? This paper from a group at the Department of Computer Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada tries to answer that very question.


November 9, 2002

The Leaky Pipeline: Gender Barriers in Science, Engineering and Technology

Part of the Gender and the Digital Divide Seminar Series, this presentation covers issues and barriers to the participation of girls and women in science and technology, including socio-cultural issues; role models; curricula and education; and university research and industry employment, as well as potential strategies to address these issues.


November 8, 2002

Women-Related Science and Technology Sites

Not limited to computers, this is an extensive list of links. Of particular note is her section Websites for Girls.


Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computers

Triannual event, with the next Celebration scheduled for September 2003. The web site is a bit thin, but you can see who was there last time around and who will be here next, as well as check out their selection of relevant resources.

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A women-oriented electronic zine from Australia, with truly wonderful graphics.


The Lipstick Librarian

Welllll, it's not exactly about women's status in librarianship, but it does suggest using the chaff from dot matrix printers as a wonderful exfoliating body scrub, so it does have something to do with women's relationship to technology. What, we're still not certain.

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Wired Woman

An online Canadian magazine, as well as the website of the organization Wired Woman Society.

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Bibliography: Gender and Technology

Another bibliography compiled by Jennifer Brayton from the University of New Brunswick Sociology Dept., this one deals with the wider issues of the interactions between technology and gender in society.


News: Women and Information Technology

From the Center for Women and Information Technology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Lots of news stories, seems to be frequently updated.


Bibliography: Women and the Internet

This bibliography was compiled by Jennifer Brayton in the Sociology Department of the University of New Brunswick. It includes both paper and electronic resources, and includes many interesting works covering feminist theory and technology.


Silicon Sally

"It's about Women. It's about the Internet. It's about time." Part zine, part portal, part...oh, I dunno...this is the first website aimed at women I've seen that actually focusses on women's roles in the network economy. "The topic is technology on all levels and we encourage women to grow at their own pace."


November 5, 2002

Gender Issues

Maintained by BAWIT (Bay Area Women In Technology) on the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility's server, this page contains several interesting articles on gender issues in computing, communications and networking, as well as the obligatory collection of references to other pages.


TAP: The Ada Project

The Ada Project, begun at Yale and now maintained at Mills College, provides a variety of useful resources, including extensive bibliographies on various issues relating to women in technology, lists of Calls for Participation in Upcoming Events, Fellowship & Grant information, conference information, and lists of organizations and discussion groups that may be of interest.


Net Resources: Women in IT

From Network World, this site features a customized search engine which indexes women/IT-related sites. It also includes a smattering of relevant links and readings.


Women in the Information Age

From Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "Starting with the experiences of young children, [the websites listed here] trace young women's technological exposure through education to the workplace and out to cyberspace. And they also touch on the treatment of these issues in the law and in key policy documents."