June 21, 2003

gender musings

Liz Lawley at mamamusings has some good and thoughtful things to say about invisible privilege, gender, and the field of computer science. And I guess I'm in that field now, though I got here sideways, by way of writing, art, and teaching.

What can I add to the conversation? I certainly read enough feminist theory in graduate school to grab and hold this floor. So why am I reluctant? Dunno. It's Saturday, I've just come in from gardening. I haven't figured out exactly what I need to take with me to Ortahisar... and the kids are peppering me with questions.

I do notice that more and more of the blogs I read are written by women. At least half of them. I like the sound of the distributed conversation. So many different tones, so many different subjects. It is not a monoculture, and that is its great strength.

I like thinking about how my students, all of them young women, might grow to have a different view of technology. They are at an all-girls school, and by two years from now all of them will be using laptops as part of a whole school wireless network. Curiosity and play are part of how they respond to the integration of technology into their class work. How many of them will enter the field of computer science? I don't know. Probably proportionately more than girls who go to co-ed schools or schools without such integration of technology. Will this change the field or will they need to adapt themselves to a very masculine culture?

Day after tomorrow I'm off to Turkey to teach more young women to use this technology - to communicate about their lives and their village. It is a project on a tiny scale. A couple of girls. A couple of computers and a video camera and an internet connection. But over the long term, and multiplied by other people's projects with other women in other places I can begin to imagine a difference. Telling our stories is powerful and important work. It makes us visible in the world, and eventually makes the lines of power more clearly visible. If you can speak it, you can begin to change it. And that gives me hope.

Posted by EGP at June 21, 2003 6:07 PM