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Girls are Helpless TechPhobes - Pardon? - Salvador Dali in a lawn chair.
I'm invisible without 3D glasses.
Girls are Helpless TechPhobes - Pardon?
Brooke sent me an absolutely wretched article today. It's about a UK study that said that women are slower to adopt new technology and gadgetry and the efforts that some companies are making to attract female customers with easy-to-use equipment, rounded and colourful (nod to the British spelling) logos, and casual language.

While slower tech adoption rate for women is believable, this particular article casts women in a helpless, manipulative light:
"I've just started borrowing my husband's iPod, but he had to give me a lesson in how to switch it on and find a track, and I've got two pages of instructions that I take with me whenever I use it," says Lucy Dobbs, editorial director of a publishing company. "I would never attempt to download a song, because I know I'd make a mess of it - I'd probably end up closing down the National Grid."

Tom Stewart, a psychologist and usability expert, agrees. "Women are often discouraged by other women from learning about technology," he says. "They are conditioned by society to want to be seen as different to men. Building Meccano bridges and piecing together model aeroplanes teach boys to enjoy tinkering with things, but girls are encouraged to play with dolls instead.

"This makes them more interested in relationships and how people behave, so they focus on the usefulness of a gadget, not on how it works. For example, they like using mobile phones because they are big talkers, so they see it as helpful to be able to make calls all the time."

"I bought an iriver [an MP3 player with lots of additional features] in January, and I have spent the last seven months trying to make it work," she explains. "The instruction book was an inch thick and really hard to follow. So I gave up. Even a group effort with all my girlfriends failed. My brain just isn't wired up to deal with the annoying, irritating, sequential precision of technology. Plus, I only came to computers in my twenties and technology moves so fast that I have been playing 'catch up' ever since."

"If I'm honest, most of the time I deliberately act helpless, because I know there will always be someone who can help me, whether it's my husband or a male colleague at work," she says. "If I take on board a little of what I am taught about a computer or an iPod, I will have to learn the rest myself. Whenever I hear some new music that I like, I'll just make a list of songs for my husband to download for me."

"It's easy for women to say they don't understand and ask a man for help," says Tom Stewart. "As the saying goes, boys play with toys, and girls play with boys."
I agree with the article on several points. Women are often slower to adopt new technology. Women are attracted by different aesthetics and verbage than men. Women often make such decisions based on how useful the gadget would be rather than its coolness factor. This last one isn't a bad characteristic, I'd say; I don't to be a slave to the uphill, upgrade climb that's perpetuated mostly so that the manufacturers can make more money by selling new models.

I think that the sampling was fubar. They say that 96% of all online music downloads are done by men. That number seems way off to me; either that or UK download customers are truly abnormal from US ones. Worse than sampling is that way in which the article targeted the most disgustingly incapable of women. This writer is guilty of selective inclusion to overemphasize his/her point. The writer also interviewed only the "experts" who played up this "phenomenon" as a socialized or genetic issue. Finally, they didn't even attempt to include a differing opinion, which diminishes this journalist's legitimacy. Most respectable news sources will try to at least address potential sources of criticism or alternate opinions in the article itself.

Admittedly, my friends are more tech-saavy than most, but several of my close friends and ladies on my friends list are dames in shiny, mech armor - kesterly, everraven, birdofparadox, Brooke, wyldkyss, rainsdance to mention just a few.

Perhaps the reason why I'm rankled is that I know women like these bimbos in the article and I know people who perpetuate such stereotypes by assuming such dramatic examples are the norm. So, in case I am equally biased, give me some feedback.

Ladies, are you like these women? Are you a helpless techphobe?

Edited: Retched changed to wretched so frolicswllamas feels better.

mood: fuming
music: Simmering soda pop

10 Voices in a Chorus | Lift Your Voice Aloft
From: gothicbeauty21 Date: August 25th, 2005 10:57 pm (UTC) (link)
if I don't need to use something, I don't bother how. But, I'm a smart girl. if i ever need to learn, I can learn. Yeah, some stuff I can figure out on my own, but some stuff I'll need help with. I'm not afraid to ask for it. And most of the time I'll be able to do it by myself after just once being helped or shown how. But I know a LOT of girls and women that just don't care about technology, don't want to know, and if they're shown something by someone, or are attempted to be taught about something, just cry and flail their hands and bemoan how DIFFICULT TECHNOLOGY IS TO UNDERSTAND. If they'd just shut up a fucking minute and LISTEN and PAY ATTENTION, they'd see that a number of gadgets are very similar in how they operate, and once they get the basics down, anything can be figured out.
yermie From: yermie Date: August 25th, 2005 11:41 pm (UTC) (link)
Yes I am.

Oh wait. I'm a computer goob.

and I'm not a girl.

tanyad From: tanyad Date: August 26th, 2005 01:19 am (UTC) (link)
Fuck no... I hate that these twits are adding on to the stereotype that women are dumb ass anti-tech boobs with legs.

Grrrr, I'd love to wring their necks, the lot of em
frolicswllamas From: frolicswllamas Date: August 26th, 2005 01:45 am (UTC) (link)
No, I'm not.

Also, I don't personally know anyone (female and our age) who I'd call a helpless techphobe. There are females much older (50+) that are certainly techphobes--but so are their husbands.

ookii_risu From: ookii_risu Date: August 26th, 2005 03:13 am (UTC) (link)
"I would never attempt to download a song, because I know I'd make a mess of it - I'd probably end up closing down the National Grid."

What century is she living in? *lmao*

Honestly, I am an internet-monger, but I love little gadgets, and I usually know how to figure these things out (I'm one who can actually figure out how to program the VCR without a study guide ;) If I don't know how to use something, information is only a click away.

Granted, things like programming and stuff like that are over my head, but things like downloading songs and learning how to use an iPod should just be second-nature by now, at least in my opinion.
wyldkyss From: wyldkyss Date: August 26th, 2005 03:18 am (UTC) (link)
What I wonder about that woman is, why does she care if she crashes this, um, grid thing.

ookii_risu From: ookii_risu Date: August 26th, 2005 02:47 pm (UTC) (link)
Heehee, yeah. :)

"What are we having for dinner tonight?"

"Mashed griddies!"
wyldkyss From: wyldkyss Date: August 26th, 2005 06:04 pm (UTC) (link)
And for dessert?

We'll scavenge until we find a DQ or Baskin Robins.
Nothing like hunting in the wild!
lyricalpink From: lyricalpink Date: August 26th, 2005 09:27 am (UTC) (link)
I spent two years as a Comp. Sci. major...so.. no. =)
maxine From: maxine Date: August 26th, 2005 07:15 pm (UTC) (link)
i am good at using some technology, must keep up with the latest cell phones, mp3 players and that sort of thing. I know basically what i am looking for in computer specs but even if i had all the parts in front of me, i would still let C. put it together for me. and then on the other hand, i have to show him how to use his phone when he first gets it.
10 Voices in a Chorus | Lift Your Voice Aloft