4.0941 Computers and Gender (2/57)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Fri, 25 Jan 91 00:10:03 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0941. Friday, 25 Jan 1991.

(1) Date: 23 Jan 91 18:15:21 EST (33 lines)
Subject: 4.0933 Computers and Gender

(2) Date: Thu, 24 Jan 1991 9:13:07 GMT+0300 (24 lines)
Subject: Computers and Gender

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 23 Jan 91 18:15:21 EST
Subject: 4.0933 Computers and Gender

Gender: Diane Kovacs response contains a telling and repeated phrase --
telling in that it shows us something about ourselves. She speaks of
e-world as a place she would not have entered `if I hadn't been provided
with an invitation and then an escort': how many male HUMANIST's would
think to phrase matters that way? I'm perfectly happy to be thought of
as a typical fatheaded DWEM-in-training (perhaps FDWEM for Future DWEM?)
and can confirm that by admitting that my own recollections of stages of
initiation into e-world were more characterized by a huffy, blustering,
barging my way in, then grabbing a chair, belching loudly, and looking
around to remark (ironically: some very old HUMANIST's, i.e., people
who've been on line for a year and a half or so, may remember this
moment) that there didn't seem to be a lot of `girls' in e-world yet.
(The irony escaped some readers and I was duly excoriated.)

Now saying it that way may sound like self-parody, but so does most human
discourse. My point is that the language available for a scholar like
Kovacs makes it easy to speak of waiting for an invitation and an
escort: and that fact of culture must in itself make it at least
*slightly* harder for some to make the entrance; while the language that
I can use suggests that it is at least *slightly* easier for somebody
like me to make the entrance. I doubt that e-mail access policies can
be altered to make the world a better place overnight, but we need to
keep in mind the culturally-induced disparities that we live with and
try to make adjustments as we go along.

P.S.: to meet a female who is a true hacker, you might have a look in the
computer centers of our older and harder-headed women's colleges. Such
people exist, but I think that my having encountered them *there* is not
unindicative in itself.
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------35----
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 1991 9:13:07 GMT+0300
Subject: RE: Computers and Gender

Sorry, I have to take exception to Norman Miller. I agree with him that
most women don't play computer games (though little girls in my
experience spend as much time painting and drawing with it as little
boys do shooting). But to suggest that women don't write "two-line
batch programs"? Come on, girls, how many of you have really never
looked at the contents of your PC's autoexec file (or your VMS's
login.com, or whatever the Unix equivalent is)? Does no mother but me
find herself writing two-line batch files so that the kids can switch to
graphics mode and run their programs from the root directory without
either tying the hard disk in knots or blowing up the monitor? Am I the
only female who has to trick herself into backing-up her data at 2 am by
wrapping a batch file round the word processor that won't let her exit
to DOS without a diskette in A: and then does it for her?

Incidentally, the System Managers at our friendly Technion computer
centre are at least 50% female (sorry folks, that should read: at least
50% of the System Managers...) The VMS staff who are my lifeline are
2 women and a man, and they do plenty of batch file writing.

Judy Koren