Exploring Gender and Technology


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How can we encourage students to be designers and controllers of technology?  

Video of Carol Burgeer

Carol Burger, National Science Foundation

Traditionally, scientific and other types of knowledge have been socially and politically constructed with negative consequences to those not involved in the construction of this knowledge.

Since these fields of inquiry have historically been the domain of a privileged few, a question that arises from this feminist perspective is What is true and how do we know that it is true?*

Feminist epistemology is a field of inquiry devoted to understanding how the production of knowledge has affected women, and how to create new frameworks that include both women and men as the central foci of knowledge-production.

This approach embodies the following elements in relation to pedagogy and research:
  • Transfer of authority to the student
  • Value subjective and experiential knowledge
  • Allow for a multiplicity of viewpoints
  • Give students a voice to express the truth of their lives as they experience it
  • Collaboration
From: Cassell,J. 1998. From Barbie to Mortal Kombat "Storytelling as a Nexus for Change in the Relationship between Gender and Technology: A Feminist Approach to Software Design" p.304.

* Sutton, Margaret.

Click here to read about "Addressing Women's Ways of Knowing to Improve the Technology Education Environment for All Students."

Drill & Practice versus the Fluency Model for Technology Education

The drill and practice approach to computer skills mastery through repetition of exercises, such as keyboarding, has given way to other models of mastery. This model of technology education that is focused on mastery of tools such as software programs, and Internet research has come under scrutiny for its lack of focus on promoting higher-level learning.

An alternative model of computer mastery that incorporates the following elements provides a new approach to technology education:

Fluency model for technology education design (TechSavvy,2000)

  • Promotes active learning that emphasizes problem-solving and critical thinking
  • Utilizes technology skills across the curriculum for real-life problem solving
    • Exposure to 'global problem-solving based education' to create higher-level more abstract, problem-solving skills
    • Multiple entry points to learning and technology
    • Infuse technology in all subject areas in order to attract all students (not just computer science courses)
  • Other possible characteristics:
    • Individualized, self-paced curriculum
    • Encourages collaboration
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