% women computer users

Daz darrenp at cs.monash.edu.au
Mon Dec 21 21:19:03 EST 1992

>Actually, there has been some academic discussion about why women don't
>appear very often on the net. I just recently sat on our University's
>Task Force on Appropriate Use of Information Technology (an ad hoc
>set up to determine whether the UBC President's banning of the alt.sex.*
>hierarchy was justified or not), and we spent some time discussing the
>idea that if the net were more representational of society as a whole
>(more women, more Arts and Humanities people, etc.) many of the
>problems with sexist language etc. would vanish.
>      :=:=> Derek K. Miller                 dkmiller at unixg.ubc.ca
>      Researcher, Alma Mater Society        thegrodd at tz.ucs.sfu.ca
>      University of British Columbia, Canada

Interesting point - we have had our usenet feed emasculated (pardon the
gender specific language - but there is something much more graphic about
... any way) - with a negative amount of discussion (we were virtually told
what we should think).

We also have a student run machine here - which is very male dominated in
terms of its gender distribution of users - and simply having a female
user code is enough to leave you with 3-4 unsolicited talk requests per
hour - not to mention unwanted email (we actually did an experiment with
a ficticious user to verify the stories we were hearing).

I like to think that the net is populated with people of above average
education - and hence would be above the sexist behaviour we have around
us. Your final paragraph seems to imply that the problems on the net are
due to a lack of the civilising influence of other parts of society - which
I don't really agree with. Having more women on the net would probably mean
that the mean incidence rate per woman would drop. On yoyo (the student run
machine) - the low number of women means that they are harassed regularly.

Neither can you (IMVHO) 'fix' things by banning/stopping/making illegal,
legislating ... - until we make people desire equality you won't get it

Darren Platt, Department of Computer Science
darrenp at dibbler.cs.monash.edu.au
Monash University, Clayton Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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