Oh come on, we all know technology is gender neutral
Erika Smith, from APC’s women’s programme, blogged live from the Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM) global trainers exchange, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 23-27 July 2007.
We’ve heard it a gazillion times. And while there are many creative exercises to talk about gender roles and stereotypes, it’s the intersection of gender and ICTs that can sometimes be hard for people to get. Maybe it is not a question of seeing it, though. Maybe folks can accept that technology is not gender neutral. What is harder to understand is what are the implications of that. How to get people to feel it, believe that this, too, matters, and matters quite a bit now and to our future. Toni says she starts with roads. Are roads gender-neutral? Joyce from Cameroun says she uses seat-belts and people get it very quickly, especially if they are women. Ouch!
A lot of the exercises that we use in Laneta in Mexico are with women directly, and have to do with their personal relationship with and reaction to technology. When you start to look at access, and see that the majority of the population have no access at all, the gender component gets further diluted.
But this is why we need GEM to be applied to a variety of ICT projects: to unearth the examples and illustrate the impact in a way that makes people move. The fact that there will be adaptations and a practitioners support network, as well as a facilitator’s guide to accompany us along the way is reassuring… but gender and ict advocates are few and far between. So, my dear ICT trainers, GEM facilitators, policy advocates? What do you do to make folks really FEEL it?