The Coming (Girl) Robot Apocalypse

The idea that all women hate technology is wrong-headed, of course. There are a lot of women in this big world and there isn’t much that you can say that applies to all of them. And the best computer person I ever met was a woman named Tanya, back in graduate school. But there’s is something going on having to do with gender and technology. We tend to assign entire areas of tools to one gender or the other and mixing that up can cause a lot of confusion.

My family used to have a lot of trouble buying me Christmas presents, not because I was picky, but because I tended to cross those gender lines. I love cooking, so you could buy me pots and pans and cookbooks. (Inside cooking, too, not just grilling!) I also like to build things– I am putting in a deck this week– so you could also buy me tools. Some technologies seem to lie in-between: I’d love to have a digital cooking thermometer so I can see exactly when my steak is medium rare.

Some are less feminine than just intellectual and so less than masculine: a red flashlight that helps me see when I am using my telescope. And some are just geeky technology loving fun: the super all in one programmable remote control that I got from my mom a few years ago. The latter might be the most relevant to the ongoing struggle to get young girls to love technology (Camp designed to win girls over to technology). I am not at all sure, though, why people feel so powerfully compelled to stick to one particular gender area.

I had doll when I was a kid– I still have him, his name is Boy Boy– so maybe I was accidentally corrupted, but I have a hard time understanding why so many women (at least my age, in the United States) dislike technology. I’ve had women friends of all sorts, but the rarest seems to be engineers and computer scientists. Pardon my Freud, or maybe Darwin, but I am begging to think that this must have something to do with mating rituals. Do men reject women who love technology? Maybe there should be camp to teach men that geeky women are sexy.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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