4.0933 Computers and Gender (2/67)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 23 Jan 91 17:47:32 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0933. Wednesday, 23 Jan 1991.

(1) Date: Tue, 22 Jan 91 20:32 EDT (47 lines)
From: Diane Kovacs <LIBRK329@ksuvxa.kent.edu>
Subject: RE: ... Computers ... Gender

(2) Date: Wed, 23 Jan 1991 09:52 CST (20 lines)
Subject: Re: Gender and computers as a hobby

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 91 20:32 EDT
From: Diane Kovacs <LIBRK329@ksuvxa.kent.edu>
Subject: RE: ... Computers ... Gender

I guess I feel I need to add a female voice to this discussion 8) I am
also in my mid-twenties and on the tenure track...successfully using
computer based scholarly activities to support my continuing

I think that many females aren't online yet because no one has invited
them or shown them what can be done. The networks are male dominated.
It is intimidating to try to enter that arena uninvited and amateur. I
used e-mail,CAI and computer stats software for classes from the time I
was a freshman..but I didn't really delve in until one evening when I was
invited to join an international Chat session. I didn't have the
courage to go into the Plato lab and play computer games with nearly all
male players until my husband came along to escort me...and then I sure
did enjoy myself. (I attended University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign) I've owned a computer since my husband and I bought a
Commodore with some of our wedding money. We bought a Mac II as a
graduation present for me. My point is, although I had knowledge,
training and desire I wouldn't be actively participating in computer
network activities if I hadn't been provided with an invitation and then
an escort into the male dominated world of computer technology. I think
we need to do that for each other now..both female and male.

In the last two years I have taught many people how to use computerized
library catalogs, CD-ROM and online database search systems, E-mail and
network file retrieval and database searching. It is my experience that
age and sex are rarely a predictor of computer interest...rather it
seems to me that motivation and confidence (reassuring people that if
they are intelligent enough to get into college, be a
professor...administrator...teacher...they can easily handle an idiot
machine helps 8) are needed to start and then curiousity and finding
useful activities to continue using computers. Cases in point...
An Emeritus Professor of English, when I showed some mail from Humanist
to her spent nearly 45 minutes asking me how e-mail worked. I expect her
online soon. Ditto for young female grad student who is now online. 8)
On the other hand I have 1 young male grad student and two senior male
colleagues who view computers as necessary evils and decline to learn
more than they feel they need to. Of course the reverse situations can
also occur.

Diane Kovacs

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------27----
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 1991 09:52 CST
Subject: Re: Gender and computers as a hobby


While more men than women may treat computers as a hobby, there are some
women out here at least who do program for fun. I used to be an English
major (I do have an MA), and now I'm a computer programmer. The reasons
for that change are numerous and varied, but the point is that I went
into computers as a profession because I had been playing with computers
since high school. I know several other women like me. I do suspect
that there are cultural reasons why, although women are moving more and
more into the professional computer world, men are somewhat more likely
to write programs just for fun. I have yet to meet a woman who is a
true hacker.

Mary Elaine Califf
Baylor University