The history and association of gender and technology
Traditionally, technology has been associated with rationality, objectivity and structure; traits oft considered “masculine” in the traditional societal definition of gender roles. While some technologies have largely been male-dominated, throughout history, women have had an often unrecognized presence in making significant contributions to these technological advancements. One such technology would be the digital computer. While its development is generally viewed as a product of male logic and rationality, much of the progress in this area has required an intuitive, interactive and generally less structured “feminine” approach. These culturally appropriated gender characteristics as well as historic gender roles have had a significant influence in consumerism and technological development. In this activity, you will explore technologies that may be gender-specific and evaluate technological innovations that have shaped current society.
Perform an internet search on technologies that may be “gendered”. Then respond to the following:
- Briefly discuss the history and association of gender and technology. How has gender mattered in the historical development and marketing of technology?
- Provide at least two examples of technologies that are traditionally considered “masculine” and “feminine”. On what basis are you making the distinctions?
- How is technology helping to reshape traditional gender roles and gender identities in the 21st century? Provide real world examples.
- What is the driving force behind this breakdown of gender barriers?