Monday, December 04, 2006

Cinderella or Cyberella?

David Weingberger pointed to this interesting looking book, Cinderella or Cyberella?.

From the book promo site:
Cinderella or Cyberella: what is the future for women in the knowledge society? Cyberella is fluent in the uses of technology, comfortable using and designing computer technology, and working in virtual spaces. Cinderella works in the basement of the knowledge society with little opportunity to reap its benefits. Promoting women’s empowerment through ICTs is one of the critical development challenges of the 21st century.

David also has notes from a presentation by Nancy Hafkin.
The major challenges: ICTs for poverty reduction and for empowering women. ICTs for women's health, well being and income. ICTs applied to existing business and enterprise (as opposed to ICT-enabled businesses). E.g., Muhamma Yunus Grameen VillagePhone is exemplary. But she'd like to see more of things like Anastasia in Uganda, a 78-yr-old illiterate chicken farmer when she came in contact with a project called Rural Women Earning Money [pdf]. Using sound and graphic interfaces, it showed them many techniques and skills for improving the fficiency, productivity for increasing the income of their existing enterprises. In Anastasia's case, it helped her be a better chicken farmer. Anastasia has gone on the road as an evangelist for the program.

Why single out women? Because otherwise the myth of gender neutral technology will cause us to ignore women's situation. While there is growing awareness of the role of gender in development, but not enough yet.

The existing constraints: Little access. Gendered access. Public access in non-women-friendly spots. Lack of education. Language barriers. Geographical location. Lack of disposable time. Limited mobility. Lack of appropriate content. Technophobia. Gender socialization about technology.

There are also policy-level constraints: Women are absent from IT policy. [I missed some points.] "Are the technology choices being made making technology equally available to men and women?"
Thanks David. Now I have to put the book on my wish list.

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Blogger roy said...

At a recent WASD conference in Naples, there was much debate about gender and science and technology. I thought that it was about time we moved beyond the numbers games ("53.66% women can or cant do x") to revisiting, firstly, the roles we really want in society, and then to look at what discrimination there is (gender, sexual preference, etc etc) which prevents some people from fulfilling those roles. What follows is the introduction to that blog, and there is a link if you want to follow it through.

Gender Discrimination and Role Discrimination: "Wasd all about?"

Q: is the eco-feminist position consistent with a shift away from ‘gender discrimination’ to ‘role discrimination’?

This takes us beyond the basic legal and financial infrastructural issues, namely the establishment of equal opportunity and financial status and rights to people, irrespective of gender and sexual preference.

These issues are essential, and necessary, but have become a diversion in a post-feminist (or eco-feminist?) age. The focus on the numbers game is a game of ping-pong, played within the comfort zone of bureaucrats, and it will consume itself in whether there are too many boys in education (late 20th Century), or whether there are too many girls in education (early 21st Century). This could go on forever!

The numbers game has been an interesting and even important gambit in social change and in furthering social equity. But it is now a distraction which avoids the essential issues, which I suspect, (I don’t know) comprise the agenda of the eco- or post- feminists.

The ‘actual’ issues are the issues of which roles we discriminate against.

see ...

2:27 AM  
Blogger Nancy White said...

Roy, thanks for popping by and the link. I hopped over to your blog and was taken by the last paragraph of your "Wasd all about" posting (

You wrote:

"It might be useful to take the energy and intellectual capital that we have generated in debates on gender and feminism, and apply them more usefully to the transformation of our attitude towards, and our (material) endorsement of, the roles we need for universities and their production of intellectual capital, for the market, and for careers to play in our lives. (That’s just for starters, but its enough to keep us busy for some time)."

That is the ideal. The question is are we evolved enough to go there?

5:53 PM  

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