Traditionally, technology has been associated with rationality, objectivity and structure; traits oft considered “masculine” in the traditional societal definition of gender roles. While some technologies have largely been male-dominated, throughout history, women have had an often unrecognized presence in making significant contributions to these technological advancements. One such technology would be the digital computer. While its development is generally viewed as a product of male logic and rationality, much of the progress in this area has required an intuitive, interactive and generally less structured “feminine” approach. These culturally appropriated gender characteristics as well as historic gender roles have had a significant influence in consumerism and technological development. In this activity, you will explore technologies that may be gender-specific and evaluate technological innovations that have shaped current society.
Throughout history there has been quite a distinct association between gender and technology. Back during the time of the Industrial Revolution was one of the most apparent associations when the “male” machines and production, and the “female” consumer’s ideas of luxury helped create a new era of abundance. Technology has developed as the “negotiations” between the producer (male) and consumer (female) has developed. (Horowitz 1998)
Examples of a technology that is traditionally “masculine” and feminine” would be a Matchbox car and a Barbie. Matchbox cars were geared towards boys while the Barbie was geared towards girls. Matchbox Car commercials were appealing to boys because it showed young boys racing around with their cool shiny new cars. Boys were considered more “living on the edge.” Boys liked to go fast and be daring. The Barbie commercials showed little girls dressing up their Barbie with their friends, being whatever they could dream up.
Nowadays traditional genders roles are starting to blend. Mattel, the creator of Barbie, has actually launched a gender-neutral doll, allowing kids to stray from the stereotypical male, female gender identities. (NYPost 2019) Mercedes also teamed up with Matchbox and made a toy replica of the car Ewy Rosqvist drove when she won the 1962 Argentine Grand Prix. (CNet)
I believe the driving force behind the breakdown of the gender barrier is that society is becoming more open minded and accepting to the fact that you can do whatever you believe that you can do, no matter your gender. If a female wants to do something that has traditionally been considered masculine, like working in a factory or being a racecar driver, she should have every opportunity that a male would have, and vice versa.
Horowitz, R. (1998). His and Hers: Gender, consumption, and technology (pp. 6-32). Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia
https://nypost.com/2019/09/25/mattel-launches-gender-neutral-barbie-doll/ (Links to an external site.)