Traditionally, technology has been associated with rationality, objectivity and structure; traits oft considered “masculine” in the traditional societal definition of gender roles. While some technologies have largely been male-dominated, throughout history, women have had an often unrecognized presence in making significant contributions to these technological advancements. One such technology would be the digital computer. While its development is generally viewed as a product of male logic and rationality, much of the progress in this area has required an intuitive, interactive and generally less structured “feminine” approach. These culturally appropriated gender characteristics as well as historic gender roles have had a significant influence in consumerism and technological development. In this activity, you will explore technologies that may be gender-specific and evaluate technological innovations that have shaped current society.
Technology as it has progressed and advanced through the decades has been linked very closely to gender, from its surprising beginning to now as we continue to push forward. From the early 1800s with a seamstress resistance against a sewing machine, early 1900s with the start of cinema, to now gender has played a key role. This isn’t to say gender alone was in the driver’s seat for technology, it had other key influences making the twist and turns that we are at today. Marketing! We saw marketing give technology its main push by exploiting gender to sell all these great inventions. Advertisements focused on women to sell household items that made their lives easier painting a happier picture of a family home, while men had an image to uphold so anything portraying a sense masculinity is thrown their way. Technology focused and grew around these gender marketing plans shaping how they improved to appease the targeted gender.
Automobiles or heavy machinery in general is a predominantly masculine technology focused on the thought strong or the ideal man figure. Being able to improve or fix a car is deemed to be a man’s job, with the auto mechanic average being 98% male workforce(Datausa.io)Heavy machinery such as in construction or earth moving operation 94.1% of degree earners are male(Datausa.io). Women on the other hand have traditionally been viewed as caretakers of the household. On this side of the gender sphere it is normal to associate stoves, ovens, sewing machines and the telephone for a woman. Even to this day cooking and cleaning is viewed by some as a woman’s job to take care of the family while the man of the house provides at work.
Let us not be confined to these walls that were built so long ago by a aging market, technology is ever growing. 21st century technology has been working to push past gender barriers because well we as a society have. Women in Computer Science areas of study are fewer than 4% by the time they go to college, but with programs such as GIRLS WHO CODE women are being shown early on that these fields aren’t just for men. Just looking around technology has been made to not attract just one gender, take for instance colors of devices we use computers, tv, and cell phones. Most high end devices sell in simple tones of black or white to not push away any consumer.
Right now in this day and age I feel we are seeing more openness to the ideas of everybody regardless of their gender thanks in large part to the internet. Anyone can learn to cook a 3 course meal or replace a timing belt on a car regardless of your sex thanks to YouTube. Many people can just post a photo or a video in a instant through social media showing a march for equality on their timeline. With all the information that is within our grasp technology itself is breaking down the barriers that were placed around it.
“Automotive service technicians & mechanics | Data USA.” https://datausa.io/profile/soc/automotive-service-technicians-mechanics (Links to an external site.).
“Construction, Heavy, & Earth-Moving Equipment … – Data USA.” https://datausa.io/profile/cip/construction-heavy-earth-moving-equipment-operation (Links to an external site.).
“Removing the Stigma Faced by ‘Girls’ Who Code – TriplePundit.” 18 May. 2015, https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2015/removing-stigma-faced-girls-who-code/57896 (Links to an external site.).
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