[iDC] Theory Thread and Why are women watching but not talking?

Laura Sillars sillars at fact.co.uk
Tue Jul 11 19:22:20 EDT 2006

Where have all the Women gone?
Why are there no great women artists?
Lamentations on lack . . .

Tap, tap, tap – drift – I work in an open plan office – all women bar  
three (out of 28) – there are lots of women here … curators of new  
media, moving image, exhibitions – they commune and communicate with  
technology everyday and several of them have their names on this  
mailing list…..
Mindless search on google: ‘Where have all the women gone?’
Entry 1 (11 July, 2006):
It appears women are leaving the American IT workforce faster than  
male executives can say, ‘Go fetch me a beer, Darlin.’
Thinks: don’t blame them!
Thinks: why have I hosted these messages (passively/often unopened/ 
benignly sitting there) in my inbox for some months now? Why have I  
failed to engage? Why have I allowed the debate to go on under my  
nose and failed to articulate a voice?
Feels: like failure – must think of something to say ….. duh!
Looks: at Charlie’s  entry/up-to-date CV of 4th of July (we’re all on  
first name terms due the intimacy of your mails arriving in the  
sanctity of my inbox on a daily basis)
Wonders: is this a pick up joint? (not being mean Charlie - my mother  
would definitely approve!)
Wonders: does someone have funding for a flight to a far-flung  
destination up their sleeve for a rather snazzy conference on mobile  
telephony, Web 2.0 and some good drinking?
Thinks (desperately): of something clever to say about mobile  
Reflects on: Trebor’s response to Amanda’s question on participation  
'A quick look showed me that women contributed 16% of iDC posts in  
June. On the other hand, there are currently roughly 300 women and  
450 men subscribed to this list.' 08/07/2006, at 6:35 PM
Reflects: so, I’m not the only one.
Thinks: So, women are listening (or ignoring) and men are talking and  
(possibly) listening, engaging and responding.
Wonders: is observing a form of participation?

Idle search on google: ‘Where have all the women gone?’
Entry 2 (11 July, 2006):
As war dominates the headlines, journalists, scholars and others  
interested in public policy have noticed a growing silence: the  
absence of women's voices in the nation's elite media
Thinks: hmmmm – are ‘journalists, scholars and others interested in  
public policy’ all men then?
Thinks: about the topics that have been discussed through this  
emailing list over the last few weeks – the rehearsal of major  
debates around ownership, power, virtual/real political agendas,  
surveillance, theory, narrative, inclusion and exclusion, participation.
Wonders: why I was only prepared to flex my fingers in response  
‘where have the women gone?’ – rehearsal of another tired debate on  
structures, networks and the articulation of power.
Feel validated: Something’s wrong with the discussion not with me –  
it must be down to sex!
Wonders: how does Trebor know how many people on the mailing list are  
women? Names? Is ethnicity visible in this list….?

Drifting on google, feel urge to check: ‘Where have all the women gone?’
Entry 3 (11 July, 2006):
Baroness Susan Greenfield has been appointed to develop a strategy to  
improve women's involvement in the sciences.
Thinks: It needs a baroness to do these things!
Wonders: What sort of strategy of participation did she develop?
Wonders: if it worked?
Wonders: about the word participation and why it’s so horribly off- 
Thinks: the notion of increasing participation suggests that someone,  
previously under-represented within a defined framework (so possibly  
a little uncomfortable with the framework) and possibly previously  
excluded from that community (so possibly a little defensive about  
their voice within that community), is positively invited (on  
condition of behaving themselves properly) to join in (i.e. take a  
part in something without changing the whole). In which case, they  
need to learn the etiquette, the manners, the form and the style to  
ensure that their engagement with community, within the framework, is  
not distinguished as different, strange or unwelcome. Successful  
participation can be defined as invisible assimilation.

Mulls it over whilst opening next link on google: ‘Where have all the  
women gone?’
Entry 4 (11 July, 2006):
Time to turn the clock forward, argues Anne Summers http:// 
Wonders: What, the, Anne Summers? The one who sells sexy knickers?
Looks: to see if can find out whether this is the real Anne Summers …  
not sure….
Wonders: about post-feminism and whether wearing sexy underwear is  
relevant here …. Decides not.
Wonders: whether to delete last wondering
Wonders: whether has mis-understood post-feminism
Wonders: whether, and if they do, how the 82% male majority  
contributing to this discussion will respond to my posting.
Shudders at the thought
Wonders: what the 16% of women will think – post-feminism has nothing  
to do with pants  . . . I apologise for bringing the tone so low –
hope I haven’t ‘let the side down’. Also, sorry – I didn’t mention  
Deleuze once.
Thinks (desperately): Of something thoughtful and intelligent to say  
that subtly references Deleuze
Resists (with dignity)
That there are lots of ways of communicating
When we speak we imagine our audience
We speak to them
The way we speak confirms our allegiances, reveals our expectations  
(in others and reciprocally, the expectations we imagine they have of  
Thinks: about the work that I do and that my team do – based on the  
principle, not of participation but of collaboration:
The first discussion with collaborators is always – what are you  
getting out of this?

On 11 Jul 2006, at 20:38, trebor at thing.net wrote:

> The various list threads on gender inclusion, theory, and the  
> politics of the
> networked public sphere all integrate well with the intentions for the
> symposium in October. Much of this is mysteriously missing from the  
> general
> debate about locative technologies and the city so far.
> Theory has its place. However, the danger is what I call *oak panel  
> theory* that
> is build on professionally safe, and well-established nodes. Oak  
> panel theory
> can’t be bothered with the “plebeian” references that make up the  
> daily
> realities of readers. The problem with examples of online  
> initiatives is that
> they are frequently ephemeral (now you see them, now you don't),  
> which may also
> lead to a love for generalizations removed from actual projects.
> Participants in new media discourse often complain about the  
> isolation of the
> dissing and cursing of this discourse from the rest of the world.  
> Academia, for
> instance, reinforces its own paradigms. Who needs to be surprised  
> about the
> exclusivity of theory? Readers that are poles apart engage  
> depending on
> language, style, humor, and tone.
> -Trebor
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Laura Sillars
Senior Curator (Collaboration Programme)
FACT (Foundation for Art & Creative Technology)
88 Wood Street
Liverpool, L1 4DQ

t: + 44 (0)151 707 4409
f: + 44 (0)151 707 4445

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