Are women technophobes?

Techphobia_1 The UK'sTelegraph published an article that I found to be very demeaning to women. The article is about gadget manufacturers having to take a more "girlie" approach if they want to win a female audience. For starters, the article starts with this remark: "Would you rip files at a high or low bit-rate? Do you prefer AAC, WMA or MP3? If you are completely baffled by these questions, you are probably a woman." They claim a recent study by the British Phonographic Industry found that 96% of tracks are downloaded by men. That seems highly unlikely. You mean only 4% of online music is downloaded by a female audience? I guess the 9% (13% men) of women who own iPods/mp3s listen to air or static on their players.

Some of the myths the Telegraph alluded to are:

1. Women are reserving judgment on iTunes: According to Mark Bjornsgaard of Artists First "..traditionally, the early  adopters of new technology are men...In five years' time, they (women) will engage in it much more."
2. Women have different tastes in websites: A study found that women prefer plenty of colour and informal language.
3. Women are nervous that downloading will be too complicated for them
4. Women prefer shopping at Chloe-not Comet: "..there is little interest in the new, all-emailing, all videoing mobiles"
5. Women are less patient than men: According to Stuff Magazine's editor Michael Brook "Women are less patient than men: they haven't got the time or the inclination to read a 90-page manual and work out how to operate a camera or DVD player. They want instant gratification...they lose interest if it doesn't work immediately, whereas men view sussing out a new gadget as a challenge."
6. Women are discouraged by other women: "They are conditioned by society to want to be seen as different to men" says Tom Stewart, a psychologist and usability expert.
7. Women are more interested in relationships and how people behave: " they focus on the usefulness of a gadget, not how it works. They like using mobile phones because they are big talkers.."
8. Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars: "Women are more likely to buy digital cameras and mobile phones because of the social element, whereas men buy hardware that is more solitary, such as laptops and gaming devices"
9. Women are lazy: "If I'm honest, most of the time I deliberately act helpless, because I know there will always be someone who can help me, whether it's my husband or a male colleague at work," says one Lucy Dobbs.

I found the article on "I Blame the Patriachy", who points to Gender Geek who dispells the myths mentioned in the artice above on her site. The Guardian wrote a similar article about the BPI findings, yet they did not immediately dismiss women as being technophobes.  Napster's spokesman Adam Howorth thinks the payment process may be concealing women users, "Because a Napster account can be used on three different PCs or laptops, and a Napster To Go portable subscription across three different compatible MP3 players, even if the registered member is male, it's highly likely that girlfriends, wives or daughters [also] use the account," he says. What do you think?

1 comment

  1. Katie Lee 30 August, 2005 at 09:18

    When I spoke to Rachel I did actually point out the fact that the figures could well be just plain wrong, and I also suggested that a number of women use an account that’s registered to a male in the family. She seemed to take it on board, but didn’t reflect that in the write up. I’m sure women from the younger generations will catch up, but the fact is, there’s still a lot of us (me included) who prefer going out and buying the CD in a store. (Oh, and for the record, that quote from me is, as usual, not something I actually said.)

    Katie – Shiny Shiny

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