[iDC] Where have all the women gone?

Ellis Godard ellis.godard at csun.edu
Thu Jul 13 15:09:59 EDT 2006

This starts dry, but ends juicy. I suspect that men are structurally wrong.
The question is how to learn from women.

Eric posted:
> It is your assumption that the only way to entice women to 
> participate more is to ask them to change. I am saying that Trebor's 
> request that we figure out how to entice women to participate can be 
> looked at two ways.
> You choose to look at it from one perspective, I suggested that we 
> look at it from another. You made the assumption that the only way to 
> view Trebor's statement is by asking why he wants women to behave 
> like men.
>  From my perspective, the first question that came to my mind when 
> reading Trebor's comment is that he was asking what dynamics exist 
> that might be preventing that participation. I assume that 
> participation can be increased by changing the environment that is 
> causing the dynamic and that is where I would like to see the 
> conversation go.

I'm interested in understanding your perspective, and how it differs. You
agree to a goal of increased participation by women, but dismiss an
assumption that women change and would instead change the environment
(meaning, either male behavior or the technology we're using). That doesn't
make clear what "more extensive participation" could mean (and seems to
contradict the idea). But, whatever it means, if it pertains to reducing a
gender difference, it probably pertains to behaving differently, and less
distinctively female. 

You're thus accepting Trebor's assumption that gender differences are
something other than valid, powerful, important, celebratable, and
acceptable - which they *sometimes* *might* be. Are we ready to reject
socially reinforced and socialized gender differences just because they're
socially reinforced and socialized?

> So, from my perspective, the first question is what changes can be 
> made among those that dominate discussions to allow for more diverse 
> participation.

Maybe it isn't the dominance, but the topics. Women joined the fray when
distinctively challenged - by Trebor's subject heading, and the ensuing
discussion. If women typically participate less (or otherwise differnetly)
in IDC discussions, perhaps the topics have been male-centric?

> I'd be very interested in seeing a discussion of what those different 
> communication styles look like in reality and from that discuss how 
> lists can create the space necessary for those other dynamics to 
> exist.
> As such, I won't continue any back and forth with you on this, as I 
> believe that is one of the dynamics that squelches participation.

Males posting less, in order to entice more participation from females, is
an interesting strategy. But if we're not asking women to change (and I
think you are, without realizing it), why are we asking men to change?

> I am simply asking you to look at, and discuss, the issue from a 
> different perspective.

It's not as different as you'd like to believe. You want to reduce gender
differences, without questioning them. I want to first understand and
respect them. Perhaps some aspects of them are worthy of preservation and
perpetuation. Perhaps men could learn more from women, if we didn't
artificially alter environments in ways that entice them to participate in
potentially less female ways. Or that alteration the extent of what we, as
men, can learn?


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