Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Technology and Gender Bias

Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Technology and Gender Bias

Article excerpt

Research in the last decade has indeed indicated that there are gender inequities with regard to technology usage, referring to computers in particular. The indication that technology developments tend to be more attractive to males than females (as referred to in the article) does present a number of issues and concerns. Most of the of these concerns have been discussed for nearly two decades as computers and other technologies have flooded elementary and secondary classrooms. While Frankel's research in 1990 suggests that women are spending less time with computers than men and therefore limiting their access to the higher paying jobs, surely there is more recent data that suggests that this gap is rapidly closing. The high numbers of women entrepreneurs and women-owned small business startups indicate that women have now jumped into the fast lane and do know what to do to succeed in the 21st century. Nevertheless, only 16% of teens on-line are girls, so there is still a major problem.

There is no question that there is too little time and money spent on teacher training to use the emerging technologies in the classroom. A study earlier this year by the CEO Forum on Education and Technology indicated that schools, on the average, spend $88 a student on computers and $6 a student to train teachers. Many teachers fail to use computers in an integrated manner to enrich and expand their already required curriculum. Often, students know more than teachers about operating hardware as well as software. Another concern surfaces when many teachers, including Family and Consumer Sciences teachers, miss great opportunities for critical thinking and problemsolving when they fail to expand the meaning of technology beyond computers.

Parents and educators who desire to keep girls involved with technologies could benefit from some specific suggestions and additional resources beyond those listed in the article:

* weave technology into liberal arts classes, such as English and history; using computers in all these classes sends the message to girls that technology is not a male domain

* provide laptop computers so that girls don't always have to compete with the boys for desktop computers

* encourage mothers to become computer literate and take the lead in teaching daughters how to use the computer

* integrate all concepts of technology into the curriculum. Family and Consumer Sciences curriculum is the perfect arena to discuss technological advances in areas such as fertility, cloning, genetic engineering, designer drugs, designer babies, smart houses, biotechnology and the food supply, medical advances, and recreation and leisure.

* provide rich classroom debates and critical thinking and problemsolving activities around the issues that new technologies present.

* explore the numerous computer games aimed at the female audience. Sales of these girl-friendly games have gone from $1.5 million in 1995 to over $135 million today. Choose carefully, though, as many games can perpetuate female stereotypes. …

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