Re: Sexist computing environments

Subject: Re: Sexist computing environments
From: Barbara Rigg-Healy <brigg -at- UNM -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 15 Apr 1994 17:06:00 MDT

>>-- Computer environments, from a computer store to university lab, tendto
>>make women uncomfortable.

>I would like some examples for this. Do you mean
>intimidating because you are the 'only woman' or
>threatening, like when you have to walk home alone
>at night? Perhaps you had something else in mind, but
>I can't imagine what it was.

>David Oberstadt daveo -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com
>San Jose, California

Someone else has already posted an example of a what happens to women in
computer stores. Another example I saw in the research was the video
arcade, which is populated mostly by young boys and male teenagers playing
war, sports, etc. games.

I can give you an personal observation. The department I work in manages
computer labs for students. We opened a new facility in 1989 that was more
"aesthetic" in that the lighting was indirect and designed for using
computers; the paint, carpeting and and chairs were color coordinated; we
placed the consultant's desk right at the entrance so that patrons could be
greeted, directed, etc. as they came in; and we now hang student art on the
walls for a little visual interest. This is *still* our most popular
faciltiy. It's my opinion that subtle differences like the desk at the
entrance and a little color in the place have contributed the facility's
popularity (there are other reasons, like the location).

Think about it this way... As a man, how comfortable are you walking into a
woman's dress shop where everything - the merchandise, the displays, the
colors, etc. - is geared toward women. All the clerks are women, the
patrons are women, etc. The clerks ignore you because they figure you are
"with" one of the female customers. You ask a clerk for assistance buying
a dress for your wife/girlfriend. The clerk asks you what size, and you
aren't sure. The clerk is impatient with your ignorance but also
patronizing - you're only a man after all! How anxious do you think you'll
be to repeat that experience? :-)

Barbara Rigg-Healy \
Technical Editor \
Computer and Information \
Resources and Technology \
University of New Mexico \ "White space never lies."
Albuquerque, NM 87131-6046 \
e-mail: brigg -at- unm -dot- edu \ -- Bill Horton
voice: (505) 277-8147 \

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