Women's Studies 30

Women and Technology

Heather Kile's Personal Statement 02-18-02

I would say that I am a woman who is fully immersed in technology. I am one of those people who love to have the latest gadgets with the newest features. I recently purchased a laptop and I use it constantly and bring it with me everywhere. I need my computer. I am constantly checking my email, instant messaging, or programming for my computer science classes. Not a day goes by when I am not on the Internet. I buy things and find information and basically turn to the Internet first for everything.

I have pretty much been this way for my whole life. I would see an advertisement on television or be exposed to a new technology at school or through a friend and want one of my own to play around with. It has always been a hobby of mine. My father would always get me what I wanted as a present for the next occasion. That was always my dad‚s job. My mom would first just observe how I interacted with my new Œtoy‚ without actually touching it. Eventually, if she found that it would make her life easier, especially in the case of the computer, she would want me to show her how to use it. She was always afraid of breaking it and would only use the options that I explicitly showed her. My father was the one that I turned to help me set it up or if there was a problem that I couldn‚t seem to fix. However, most of the time it was me alone who was the ambitious one. The technology that I most remember is the computer and that is why I am using it as an example. My father would be on a computer enough at work that when he came home he didn‚t want to be playing around with one. I was the one who used it not only to do my schoolwork but also as a recreational activity. I say this to show that my interest in technology was not gained by either of my parents but was rather something that I was interested in and something that my parents supported. They have over the years come to embrace the new technologies that I introduce to them but they have never had the same innate fascination with technology that I enjoy.

I am taking this course because I feel that my love of technology isn‚t shared by all people and especially not by all women. I would not consider myself to be a feminist and I have a pretty optimistic view of things being fair and just until proven otherwise, but there is something striking about just how few women there are in technological fields. It is baffling to me because I am a woman who is majoring in computer science and really enjoys technology. It is an interest of mine and has been for as long as I can remember. I guess I am sort of wondering where are the other women like me? Why is this typically seen as a male trait? Is this field simply more appealing to men or are other women simply not considering this as an option?

I am looking forward to doing some reading and research into questions like these. I want to look into why I am usually one of two or one of four girls surrounded by twenty or thirty boys in my computer science classes. I hope to take from this class a better understanding of what events, social attitudes, and other factors have lead to the development of gender defined exclusions from certain fields, in particular women from technological fields.

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