Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gender Divide...why?

"In the theory of gender, I began from zero. There is no masculine power or privelege I did not covet. But slowly, step by step, decade by decade, I was forced to acknowledge that even a women of abnormal will cannot escape her hormonal identity." -- Camille Paglia

It’s no secret: men and women approach technology in different ways.

Why is this though? Why did this digital gender divide evolve? Many studies have “proven” its existence, citing that women use the internet mainly for social reasons and that men will play games, do work, etc. But why? Why don’t women use it for the same reason? What’s preventing them? What caused the crack in the usage distribution.

A Stanford study published by, called Gendering the Digital Divide, says that it comes down to gender. Gender, as defined by, is sexual identity in relation to society of culture, or the condition of being female. Note that this is different from sex, which is defined as the male or female division of a species, especially as differentiated with reference to the reproductive functions. Sex is biological, gender is not.

The study says “Women and men use the Internet differently and in different amounts because of social expectations guided by gender roles.” Women use the Internet less than men because they’re expected to. There are also things preventing women from using the Internet as often as men, like taking care of a family. “Women’s experiences with technology have historically been limited and dominated by men,” according to the Stanford study.

Technology can be looked at from many different perspectives: I believe that gender is one of them. It’s an important factor to consider when looking at reasons for technology, uses of technology, and the future of technology. What role did women play 20 years ago, what role do they play now, and what role will they play 20 years in the future? It’s our generation that gets to decide the answer; I’m going to do my best to make it a positive one.


  1. I agree that gender affects the technology preference. For example, some females don’t like playing war-games in the computer, but they like to chat. I would say that is the personality also affecting the differences between males and females. It could be a social construction.

  2. Obviously, gender includes many more than male/female/straight/gay. And it's a result of evolving times, in my opinion. The fact the queer subcultures are becoming more and more diverse and prevalent yields more angles to the discussion of Gender and Technology. I agree with the study's mention of the lack of female presence in technology in the past, but nowadays, "female" doesn't describe much other than biology. Maybe the gray areas between male and female (such as transgender, bisexual, etc.) view/use technology different then other parts of the gender spectrum.