This week’s articles focus on the interaction between gender and technology. While Jenson and de Castell explore gender in relation to gaming culture and the gaming industry, Bray focuses on some of the historical and theoretical understandings associated with gender and technology.
Jenson and de Castell explore feminist/s frameworks and approaches in order to offer possibilities for how they might be applied to games scholars and game makers. Related to feminist frameworks and approaches, they spend a large portion of their paper explaining and exploring the Feminist in Games (FiG) feminist alliance. They reveal that FiG is a way to “’speak up’ against a pervasively misogynist games industry and culture” since the industry is largely male dominated (Jenson and de Castell, 2016, p. 189). Moreover, their goal was to create conditions for women to participate in the industry more equitably – as both consumers and producers, especially because of the industry’s growing social, cultural, and economic importance (Jenson and de Castell, 2016, p. 190). Similarly, Bray focuses on exploring how gender and technology have been connected historically and explores conceptual frameworks in anthropology of technology for understanding gender-technology relations. Bray explores some of the ways that technology has been thought of in relation to gender, specifically with ideas around some of the power dynamics and underlying assumptions.
We have already talked (and read) in this class a little bit about the differences between males and females and their interactions with technology, specifically when we read Jenson and Droumeva’s article about boys and girls interactions and learning with game making in the classroom. In this study, they found that “neither girls nor boys reported any social stigma for ‘being good with computers’” (2016, p. 118), but when reading the articles for this week, it is clear that something changes after Grade 6. As Jenson and de Castell point out, women are significantly underrepresented in the games industry, specifically with the design and development of mainstream games (2016, p. 187).
Critical Response and Take Away Points:
I am extremely curious if this trend of an underrepresentation of women in the gaming industry will change in the upcoming years. I am extremely interested in gender roles/ideologies and how they have impacted careers, the workplace, and society and I think that other careers such as nursing and teaching have something to offer to this conundrum. Specifically, careers in healthcare (such as nurses) and in educational services (such as teaching) have been female dominated and I wonder if the gaming industry is an example of this, but from the flip side of male dominated. I wonder if because of how these careers and industries have been historically represented, that the gaming industry (and technology in general as Bray points out) will be difficult to undo/change just as other careers have been. For instance, there are only approximately 17% are males working in health care and social assistance and only 32.8% are males working in educational services (Statistics Canada, 2016). Even after years of gender roles being challenged and after it being more widely accepted for genders to pursue any career, there is still this large gap what have been traditionally deemed as female careers. I do not want to be completely pessimistic because I do think that there is room for change and that we can encourage and support females in this male dominated industry (and vice versa with other career paths for males). But, there is something to be said about how ideologies have continued in other industries and it provides insight for how, somehow, the gaming industry has been thought of as a male career. I think that when we are approaching gender and technology or gender and careers/industries, we need to take a look at the bigger picture historically, as Bray and Jenson and de Castell point out in their articles.
I encourage educators and the education system to try to encourage all genders to embark in any career, but I think that before true change can occur, we still have this huge underlying (and perhaps even, overt) problem of this dominant ideology that is interwoven into how people think about gender and careers.
Our aim was to help create the conditions for more equitable participation of women, both as consumers and as producers, in an industry that has gained increasing social, cultural and economic importance for 21st century work, education, communication and play, not only in Canada, but globally. (Jenson and de Castell, 2016, p. 190)
There are, of course deep historical roots to this contemporary problem, which extend back to preliteracy (Jenson and de Castell, 2016, p. 188)
One fundamental way in which gender is expressed in any society is through technology (Bray, 2007, 38)
In the contemporary world, or at any rate in the Western nations which pioneered industrialization and have thus been able for so long to dominate worldwide production of material and intellectual goods, services, and desires, technology is firmly coded male. (Bray, 2007, 38)