RE: Twin Studies [was Re: HR25Show82099 - BS]

O'Regan, Emlyn (
Thu, 26 Aug 1999 17:28:03 +1000

Elizabeth Childs wrote:
> > In the last four years, having a personal computer has become
> exponentially
> > more useful to the average person than it used to be. Before then,
> unless a
> > person was interested in games, programming, pornography, spreadsheets,
> > Compuserve, or wordprocessing, there wasn't really a lot you could do
> with
> > your computer. You wouldn't have to be "irrational" to go to the
> computer
> > store, decide that there's nothing in your daily life that requires any
> of
> > these functions, and save several thousand dollars for something else.
> Having come back to computers since the advent of the GUI myself, I can
> say that the practical uses of computers have ben obvious to any
> intelligent person since about 1991. It is true that most women have
> only picked up using PCs (and usually start off with macs) in the last
> 4-5 years. Prior to that my experience tells me that women have had a
> greater distrust of the technology, with no rational basis for the fear.
> Mike Lorrey
Did we all somehow fail to notice the very male-oriented (I would have said masculine, but that's not quite right) geek culture surrounding computing up to the present day?
It is only now starting to recede. Girls just didn't get involved in computers, just like boys didn't play with dollies. Anyone who's been involved with trying to train users will know that confidence in your abilities is terribly important for learning to be a successful computer user, and that the primary factor in that confidence is experience. Boys were, and still are I think, (far) more likely to get involved than girls in mucking around with computers from an early age (for the older list members, playing with electronics as a child seems also to be a determinant), and so of course on the whole men have been quicker to adopt computer use and culture than women. It's been a male culture.

I'd propose that it's similar to the gender ratios in engineering. There's a chicken and egg problem here (did female lack of interest generate an excusionary male culture, or did exclusionary male culture generate female lack of interest?). All I know is that both have been around for a long time. One thing I'd say though is that the ratios are changing, which points to the idea that women are not intrinsically disinterested. Looks like our male geeky culture might have something to answer for. I still miss it though!

I think there might be some semi-valid responses to this. Like "Hey, the girls never liked us because we weren't cool jocks; is it our fault if the future we built to combat this (where nerds are kings amongst men) has a masculine orientation?" Maybe. It doesn't mean that women en-masse are some kind of lame technophobic subhumans though.

Emlyn, geekboy (some of my best friends are women!)