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Gender and the World Summit on the Information Society
February 27, 2008, 4:42 pm
Filed under: 2008


During the various deliberations surrounding the development of the WSIS Draft Principles, many women’s groups were adamant that Paragraph 11A, which dealt with gender equity, be included. In September 2003 a t-shirt campaign was initiated by the NGO Gender Srategies Working Group. As you can see by the photo above, the t-shirts contained the message “WSIS has a missing paragraph” (on the front) and the text of paragraph 11A (on the back). They were worn by several NGO delegates.

Add: New Para 11A
A focus on the gender dimensions of ICT is essential not only for preventing an adverse impact of the digital revolution on gender equality or the perpetuation of existing inequalities and discrimination, but also for enhancing women’s equitable access to the benefits of ICT and to ensure that they can become a central tool for the empowerment of women and the promotion of gender equality. We therefore resolve to establish policies, programmes and projects that consider, identify and analyse the gender differences and inequalities in the access to and use of ICT and that these are fully addressed
(Language proposed by Canada during the WSIS Intersessional Meeting in Paris from 15-18 July 2003)

For an overview of WSIS and Canada’s involvement, see the paper I co-wrote with Marita Moll called Vision Impossible which is published in Seeking Convergence in Policy and Practice: Communications in the Public Interest, Vol. 2. M. Moll and L.R. Shade (Eds.) Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. (Scroll down here: to find chapters).The WSIS Gender Caucus focused on advocacy and lobbying on six key recommendations for action, based on the fundamental areas where gender integration and the empowerment of girls and women in the Information Society are most important. These recommendations included:1. Gender must be a fundamental principle for action
2. Equitable participation in decisions shaping the information society
3. New and old ICTs in a multimodal approacj
4. Designing ICTs to serve people
5. Empowerment for full participation
6. Research analysis and evaluation to guide action
Why is gender important to include in WSIS? An interview by Daphne Plou of Chat Garcia Ramilo, 2003.

On WSIS Gender Caucus at Tunis in November 2005:
(some links may be defunct)

There’s been a bit of academic writing on gender and WSIS, see

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The Phantom of the Operator by Caroline Martel
February 27, 2008, 12:40 am
Filed under: 2008

The Phantom of the Operator, a film by Caroline Martel…

The 20th Century had its invisible workforce: telephone operators. Not just “voices with a smile”, they starred in managerial dreams of infinite progress. LE FANTÔME DE L’OPÉRATRICE reveals their fate in a unique montage film crafted from 150 rarely-seen industrial, publicity and scientific management films produced in North America between 1903 and 1989. The voice of celebrated Quebec actress PASCALE MONTPETIT accompanies us on this voyage of science and fiction. Director Caroline Martel and her collaborators spent 50 weeks over four years splicing together fantastic remnants from an industrial era into this dreamlike documentary. LE FANTÔME DE L’OPÉRATRICE proposes a fascinating portrait of human society in a technocratic age.

“an enormously imaginative documentary… an hour of non-stop visual and intellectual stimulation.” – VARIETY


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The Eniac Girls
February 27, 2008, 12:11 am
Filed under: 2008


Jennifer Light in “When Computers Were Women” in Technology and Culture 40:3 (1999): 455-483 mentions the ‘invisible girls’ responsible for the ENIAC computer. The job of computer programmer was originally classified as female clerical work. The history of women in computing, she also notes, was given short shrift, as official public account about ENIAC in the media neglected to mention ‘the girls’. Ballistics computing was thus feminized, but Post WWIIm it was … back to the kitchen!

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Balancing Family and School…
February 27, 2008, 12:07 am
Filed under: 2008


Cheris Kramarae wrote a report in 2001 for the American Association of University Women on women and distance education. It was called The Third Shift: Women Learning Online/

From the blurb online:

Proving that multi-tasking is more that just a buzzword, a new report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation has found that distance—or online—learning is on the rise and women make up the majority of students. Sixty percent of these nontraditional online learners are over 25 years of age and female.

Working mothers interested in furthering their education are doing so online and adding a difficult “third shift” to their responsibilities as mothers and employees, according to the study, The Third Shift: Women Learning Online, by Cheris Kramarae, the AAUW Educational Foundation’s 1999-2000 Scholar-in-Residence.

“Technology does not create more hours in a day, but leaves women—who shoulder most of the family and household responsibilities—improvising to squeeze in education,” said Jacqueline Woods, AAUW’s Executive Director. “We need to deal with the time bind that all parents and older students face if we want to make the rhetoric of ‘lifelong learning’ for the ‘information economy’ a reality.”

Women give distance learning high marks for many of its qualities:

Family and flexibility—they can be home for their family, learn at their own pace, and do course work when they can fit it in

Minimizing costs—saving money and time on commuting and childcare

Fulfillment—from obtaining a degree or gaining useful knowledge to fulfilling personal goals

Despite the positive aspects of online learning, the women surveyed found a number of factors discouraging, including the cost of tuition and equipment, the often-difficult course load, and the fact that not all distance learning programs are accredited.

Among the report’s recommendations:

Expand financial aid programs to support part-time students currently unable to qualify because they are taking small course loads.

Involve more women administrators, teachers, and students in the planning process for online courses.

Educate policy-makers concerning the difficulties faced by working mothers who are seeking to continue their formal education through distance learning.

Broadly disseminate information on distance learning to reach populations of women—for example, welfare-to-work participants or older women—unlikely to visit traditional sites for information.

Treat distance learning students as responsible and intelligent beings, not as passive educational consumers.

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Gender, Work, and Digital Technologies
February 26, 2008, 11:53 pm
Filed under: 2008


Old Stuff

In evaluating women’s relationship to the Internet, one of the more important factors is women’s relationship to paid work. Claims by management gurus and technological pundits that the information infrastructure will create jobs and accelerate the trend towards a knowledge economy replete with lifelong learning opportunities need to be investigated. Particular issues to examine include:

• What jobs are being deskilled by the introduction of computerization and networked communications? For instance, if libraries are being wired, how is this affecting a workforce predominately staffed by women?
• Are women using networked technologies in entrepreneurial ways? Are women significantly involved in the commercial end of networking (i.e. as consultants, owners of businesses, content creators)?
• What are the obstacles (e.g. educational barriers, lack of affordable childcare) facing women who seek to enter and thrive in the high tech fields?

In particular, the impact of telework on women needs to be explored. Oldfield (1991) writes that the triple workload of women teleworkers (paid work, housework, and childcare) creates added stress, dependance on a spouses’ wages, an increased risk of poverty, and isolation. Oldfield suggests that narrow-scope public policy strategies for improving the lives of women teleworkers include ensuring that: homeworkers are guaranteed employee status by union membership; homeworkers are included in a broadening of legislative protection such as through unemployment insurance benefits; and that real-life and virtual networking organizations are created, whose goal would be to reduce home isolation and disseminate public awareness information for teleworkers.

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Internetworking Ads, ca. early 2000s, ’nuff said
February 26, 2008, 11:12 pm
Filed under: 2008



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Cyberfeminism Resources
February 26, 2008, 9:18 pm
Filed under: 2008


Old Boys Network The Truth About Cyberfeminism

Cyberfeminism with a Difference Rosi Braidotti , 1996

Cyberfeminism Reading Bodies

Cyberfeminism Art Women journal

Domain Errors: Cyberfeminist Practices, (Maria Fernandez, Faith Wilding and Michelle M. Wright).

Women, Art & Technology, ed. Judy Malloy MIT Press, 2003

Mary Flanagan . She is a digital media artist exploring issues related to gender and gaming.

Reload: Rethinking Women and Cyberculture, ed. Mary Flanagan and Austin Booth (MIT Press, 2002).

Anna Couey Restructuring Power: Telecommunications Works Produced by Women.

Rhizomes 4 (2002), Cyberfeminisms


This image is by Técha Noble and from the Geek Girl site from Australia.

An excerpt from Shade (2002).

The original Riot Grrls were a disparate group of punk feminists who published zines and played in bands, such as Bikini Kill, Heavens to Betsy, and Bratmobile. They reclaimed the word girl with their own feminist twist, asserting a more spunky and can-do attitude, combined with a strong political and activist stance. Rosenberg describes Riot Grrls as “loud”, expressing “themselves honestly and straightforwardly” through zines, music, and the spoken word. “Riot Grrl does not shy away from difficult issues and often addressed painful topics such as rape and abuse. Riot Grrl is a call to action, to ‘Revolution Girl-Style Now’. At a time in their lives when girls are taught to be silent, Riot Grrl demands that they scream” (1998 810).

Paper zines, once the mainstay of Riot Grrl communication, have spread to the Internet. Through e-zines, discussion groups, and websites, Riot Grrls “write most often about their days— something small that has upset them or something great that has happened. In that environment, what they create is genuine and accessible. Because the feminism of Riot Grrl is self-determined and grassroots, its greatest power is that it gives girls room to decide for themselves who they are. It provides a viable alternative to the skinny white girls in Seventeen and YM (Young and Modern) magazines.” (ibid. 811).
Nikki Douglas is the editor, publisher, and webmaster of RiotGrrl ( (“women not scared to be grrls!”) and Girl Gamer , for female video and Internet game players, which highlights game reviews, cheats, hardware reviews, and a “Sound Off” forum. RiotGrrl features RiotGrrl Interact—a conference system on various topics (sex, rants, books-films-TV, Webology, TeenGrrl, Gen-X), and the Feed the Supermodel game, (“as featured in Wired Magazine!”). Jennifer Aniston-Pitt was the supermodel, and she could be fed by clicking on several food combinations: Comida Buena (salad, carrots, vitamins, slimfast, crackers) or Comida Mal (hamburger, stromboli, tiramisu, oreo cheesecake, 16 oz. steak).

–Rosenberg, Jessica and Gitana Garofalo. 1998. Riot grrrl: Revolutions from within. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 23(3): 809–841.

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