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Its Gender meltdown time

by Christine Fraser

Gender issues have always been driven by women - and for many women 'gender', where differences lead to bias in opportunities, is a major issue. The challenge taken up by campaigning women has usually been to confront hierarchical structures, bureaucracy and systems perceived to block or frustrate equal access to opportunities.

This is less so, if at all, with information technology. It's different. Whilst access to IT equipment and on-line facilities may be an 'issue', it is an issue for ALL. Now there is less frustration at blockage in the 'vertical' system and structure of 'authority' because lines of communication are opening up horizontally in an unmediated, un-edited way.

Since technology is gender-blind, a real opportunity presents itself to create the Information Society free from a negative gender legacy. it is refreshing to meet new people on the Internet where gender is wholly irrelevant. I spent two weeks communicating with Keikki in Finland before I knew he was a man.

On the other hand, personal relationships benefit enormously where people working apart can be kept in touch. Jane recently attended our 'CyberSkills Workshops' in Plymouth. She is now getting on-line so that she and her merchant-seaman husband can be in direct touch when he is away at sea for up to 6 weeks at a time. At £2.50 per minute for satellite telephone, e-mail is clearly a better and more cost-effective option. And because young people tend to enjoy using it, it also ensures the kids write to Dad without prompting!

The Chinese define woman as 'One Half of the Sky'. Perhaps women can therefore think of themselves now as 'One Half of CYBERSPACE'. And gender-meltdown means we won't be able to see the join

© Christine Fraser
Network 2000

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