More interesting research over at NESTA.
2.Social cultures – games play, it is often reported, is not characterised only through playing the games, but through the systems of exchange and discussion that surround them – the purchasing of magazines, the swapping of software and cheats. All of these are seen as centrally important aspects of what makes games an important social activity. To date, however, these ‘games cultures’ seem to remain predominantly male. Certain commentators have argued, for example, that boys are more likely than girls to participate in these activities because games are seen as a ‘safe’ way for boys to maintain friendships, while girls are less reliant on these mechanisms (McNamee, 1998). Research for the Screen Play study reported that boys tended to dominate classroom discussion of games and, even where girls were games players, boys tended to retain the ‘authority’ in the classroom and peer group for determining which games were ‘good’. Similarly, in the home, boys were seen to be significantly more intense games players, with 33% of boys compared with 13% of girls reporting playing games every day and, in detailed observations, boys were seen to ‘own’ the games technology in the home on a more regular basis. (Facer et al, 2003 forthcoming)
And from Justine Cassell (ex MIT) on gender and human computer interaction. Cassell also has some work available on the same site about StoryMat and digital storytelling and learning in classrooms.
As we move in this article from the example of videogames for girls to other aspects of designing technology for women, it is instructive to apply McIntosh’s model to the design of technology. We have left phase one behind: no longer is it possible to build womanless technology. Currently, there is widespread recognition of the importance of taking gender into account in interface design (witness the presence of this chapter in a handbook on HCI). And we have passed through phase two: public perception of the role of women in technology has changed radically, due to the efforts of activist computer scientists and historians who have highlighted, among others, Ada Lovelace’s seminal role in the birth of the computer, and Grace Hopper’s essential contribution to computing. Now, however, we find ourselves at a stage where women seem to pose some kind of problem for the design of technology. Tech companies pay consultants to help them figure out how to design for women. One gender and technology consulting firm refers to its ability to help companies succeed at “the notoriously selective and lucrative demographic of teenage girls.” A consultant for online businesses advertises its knowledge of “what makes women click”: a six-step program from initiating the relationship through subtle tactics of banner and home page design, through deepening the relationship by asking motivating survey questions. The goal is “the inside tract to get inside women’s minds and keep them inside” the website. In fact, many websites for women have sprung up, but the majority treat the same topics as women’s magazines that have been around for hundreds of years (the banner on one women’s website invites readers to learn about “Making your home a haven for your family”).
Read the full PDF.