Violent metaphors and gender

Subject: Violent metaphors and gender
From: Andreas Ramos <andreas -at- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 1994 10:15:15 -0700

Again, while gophering around, I found this text. As Steve said, we
shouldn't make too much of this. Nevertheless, others have noticed this

Andreas Ramos, M.A. Heidelberg Sacramento, California

Subject: Gender Differences in Computer Terminology

This is from a thread in the discussion group Rhetoric, Language, and
Professional Writing.

Then B Rickley wrote:

There's also a difference in linguistic referral to technology by those in
power and those not--I did a survey while at AT&T concerning how
computer jargon was assimilated by different people, and, while there
was a semblance of a gender difference (men used jargon in a
metaphorical sense--"My hard disk has crashed" to refer to a state of
tiredness, but women tended to use more complex metaphors--"He's so
DOS" to refer to a simple-minded person who can, like a DOS system, only
do one thing at a time), the REAL differences showed up in the power
hierarchy. The secretaries and tech writers, who were the lowest paid
and who did the most mundane jobs, tended to refer to keyboarding in
terms of typewriting--e.g., *=asterisk, !=exclamation point, :=colon, etc.
The programmers and SMEs (subject matter experts) used a much more
volatile, aggressive language: *=splat, !=ball bat or bang, :=snake bite, etc.
I spent a lot of time listening, and there was a real hierarchy of
knowledge that seemed to be cultivated and maintained--so as we explore
issues of usability in the realm of technology, we ought to look at our
*own* "usability," too.

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