Stronger and harder than a bad girl's dream. (lost_angel) wrote,
Stronger and harder than a bad girl's dream.
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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.
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