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The one exception to this is Dale Spender...
Has anyone got any ideas on how female educationalists can be encouraged to be more active in the creation of online materials?

Excuse me, John, as I can see you are an eminent contributor here, but for some reason you are not fully informed on this subject.

Certainly Dale Spender is an effective businesswoman and is a high profile self-elected spokesperson on the issues involved in education and ICT.

To grasp the point I was making it is necessary so see the quote in context:

Every method of mass communication has been dominated by males. This began with the writing of books (religious faith as well as gender was important in the beginning). Women eventually took up the challenge and made great progress and in some areas, such as the novel, they even dominate the sector. The same thing happened in radio and television. However, men still dominate these forms of communication. Despite this history, women have been slow to grasp the importance of the web as a battleground of ideas. The one exception to this is Dale Spender… (John Simkin, 12th April)

Of course I was not saying the Dale Spender is the only academic writing about women and computers. To your list I would add Jan Bruck, Lynda Davies, Pam Dettman, Margaret Fallshaw, Linda Adamson, Irene Grasso, Eileen Green, Jenny Owen, Katie Hafner, Donna Haraway, Susan Herring, Nancy Kaplan, Eva Farrell, Sara Kiesler, Jacqueline S. Eccles, Gill Kirkup, Cheris Kramarae, Margaret McLaughlin, Lana Rakow, Antonia Stone, Jeanie Taylor, Maureen Ebden, etc.

I am not sure what Dale Spender has done to upset you (“is a high profile self-elected spokesperson on the issues involved in education and ICT”) but I think that she has made an important contribution to this debate because she has placed the problem within its historical context.

As you point out there is no shortage of women academics writing about women and computers. However, I am not terribly concerned about that – academics always over-emphasise their importance in what takes place in the classroom. My main concern is over the way males are dominating the creation of online educational materials.

As I said, earlier, this forum was “originally set up by members of the Association of Teacher Websites. The vast majority of our members are men.” The ATW has 101 members. Of these, only 18 are women. I believe the gender of the creator influences the type of material that is created. This in turn will have an impact on the appeal of the material to girls in the classroom.

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John writes:

My main concern is over the way males are dominating the creation of online educational materials.

I am not sure that they are dominating the creation of online materials, certainly not in my subject area, modern foreign languages. Female teachers have always been in the majority in my subject area since I started teaching in the 1960s, and they are making a major contribution to the development of online resources and ICT training for language teachers.

For example, there are many excellent websites created and maintained predominantly by women, e.g.

1. MFL Resources: A large set of free downloadable resources for teachers of Modern Foreign Languages. Mainly geared to secondary education: http://www.mflresources.org.uk

2. The Language Investigator: This site is aimed mainly at primary school teachers who are interested introducing a multilingual dimension into their lessons, but the materials are relevant to teachers and pupils in secondary education too. The work is a result of a one-year project called Thinking through Languages which was developed within a group of Coventry primary schools. The project was funded by the Nuffield Foundation. An excellent site for raising awareness about languages, with lots of useful links: http://www.language-investigator.co.uk/index.htm

As for leading the way in e-Learning, the head of the e-Learning Strategy Unit at the DfES is a woman, Diana Laurillard - with whom I have had the pleasure of working on a number of occasions: http://www.dfes.gov.uk/elearningstrategy

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I thought this point of John's was worth commenting on:

The fact that women produce fewer educational websites than men and contribute less to this forum is mainly due to the fact that their first encounters with computers took place many years ago when sexist attitudes were more prevalent.

Do you mean that the men were free to play with their computers and produce wonderful websites while the little women were busy cooking the tea and washing the clothes? I don't know how far back John is thinking this all happened but I don't think it is that relevant to the lack of educational websites by women!

I first started using computers when the Acorn Electron was around (anyone else have one of those?). It was not exactly 'steam driven' but it wasn't far off with programs having to be loaded on from an ordinary tape recorder! :ice

Not long after that we invested in a highly expensive machine (about £2500!), actually equivalent to a 286, but at the time a state-of-the-art machine. That was 14 years ago! How big was the internet then?? The two biggest users of that machine were my daughter and me. Neither of us has subsequently produced an educational website but neither were we 'chained to the kitchen sink'. We were just not interested in either spending the time to fight with the technical problems, or in putting together pages of dry information that seemed (and still seems) to be the norm for many educatinal websites.

As you may have gathered already, I like to produce 'fun' materials to help my students understanding and learning. That is the appeal of using a hosted and managed template which allows me to upload materials quickly and simply in almost any form I wish. It won't be everyone's idea of 'good stuff' but it's about 'horses for courses'! :hotorwot

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Guest brinn
It will of course be argued that women have just as strong a desire to educate and to be educated as men. That is of course true, but maybe women find this way of doing it more stressful than other methods. For example, I am aware that most (all) people find forum debates a painful experience. It is fairly easy for an intelligent person to find flaws in your arguments. This is particularly painful on a forum where you have the means to directly quote what other people have said. Maybe men are less sensitive than women and are more willing to have their opinions analysed in this way........ 

You are joking of course. (Not that YOU, of course are arguing this.)

Please tell me that you have a sense of humour.

This is from a man whose contribution to a debate about a poster who used a name that was not hers/his was, rather than to answer the points, to accuse the female colleague of being a poor teacher with low standards because she objected to reading post which were too long (verbose is the word that comes to mind)....

Sorry, being a mere woman and thus not so intellectually robust as your good self, I think I have used all my intellectual abilities up and must grasp my feather duster to my bosom (heaving as it is in middle aged agitation) and sit down for a bit....

Smelling salts please!

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Guest brinn
Perhaps the lack of women on this forum (and others) has more to do with the general different ways men and women communicate.

Most men use language to communicate factual information (hence the interminable talk about football and John's dreadful "lists" :huh: ), whereas most women use language, (especially talk), to network and relate. Compare the different ways a man and a woman might use a phone and you will get my drift.

This perhaps makes them as well as far superior beings to us, less likely to use a means of communication like a forum where there is very little or no emotional, visual or physical feedback. :angry:

Ouch, ye of the greatness I must not upset since it is your site :D

Don't extract the urine please. We are NOT superior. Merely better at most tasks than you.

You see, you men have had it so good that you can pick and choose what you do. So whilst you are on the computer, who is getting your tea?

Get my drift?

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Guest brinn
I thought this point of John's was worth commenting on:
The fact that women produce fewer educational websites than men and contribute less to this forum is mainly due to the fact that their first encounters with computers took place many years ago when sexist attitudes were more prevalent.

Do you mean that the men were free to play with their computers and produce wonderful websites while the little women were busy cooking the tea and washing the clothes? I don't know how far back John is thinking this all happened but I don't think it is that relevant to the lack of educational websites by women!

I first started using computers when the Acorn Electron was around (anyone else have one of those?). It was not exactly 'steam driven' but it wasn't far off with programs having to be loaded on from an ordinary tape recorder! :huh:

Not long after that we invested in a highly expensive machine (about £2500!), actually equivalent to a 286, but at the time a state-of-the-art machine. That was 14 years ago! How big was the internet then?? The two biggest users of that machine were my daughter and me. Neither of us has subsequently produced an educational website but neither were we 'chained to the kitchen sink'. We were just not interested in either spending the time to fight with the technical problems, or in putting together pages of dry information that seemed (and still seems) to be the norm for many educatinal websites.

As you may have gathered already, I like to produce 'fun' materials to help my students understanding and learning. That is the appeal of using a hosted and managed template which allows me to upload materials quickly and simply in almost any form I wish. It won't be everyone's idea of 'good stuff' but it's about 'horses for courses'! :angry:

Maggie, I appear to be contradicting your points in my last post when I refer to women getting the tea whilst the men play on their computers, but you must admit the fact that whilst some - many - women do do many socially and politically relevant things, we live in a society which negates it by ignoring their contribution; as John seems determined to prove.

In a previous job many decades ago when money was worth more, I had responsibility for a budget much larger than my current school's budget; yet the Head-teacher who manages our current budget, on being asked by me if some fiscal matter was in fact the best way of doing something, refered to me as 'dear' and gently pushed me out of the office.

It isn't what WE do, it's how THEY perceive us that still, essentially, matters.

Sadly. :-(

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Perhaps the lack of women on this forum (and others) has more to do with the general different ways men and women communicate.

Most men use language to communicate factual information (hence the interminable talk about football and John's dreadful "lists" :( ), whereas most women use language, (especially talk), to network and relate. Compare  the different ways a man and a woman might use a phone and you will get my drift.

This  perhaps makes them as well as far superior beings to us, less likely to use a means of communication like a forum where there is very little or no emotional, visual or physical feedback. :(

Ouch, ye of the greatness I must not upset since it is your site :(

Don't extract the urine please. We are NOT superior. Merely better at most tasks than you.

You see, you men have had it so good that you can pick and choose what you do. So whilst you are on the computer, who is getting your tea?

Get my drift?

I wasn't extracting the urine, honest :(

I think there is some mileage in asserting that men and women in general terms tend to use language in different ways, and that this may explain women's apparent reluctance to use forums - controversial ground I know :tomatoes

Don't extract the urine please. We are NOT superior. Merely better at most tasks than you.

I agree that most women are better at many currently highly valued work related tasks than me. Essentially these include organisational tidiness, having a much greater tolerance of boredom, and most importantly, the ability and desire to boss people about. It is very clear that in a more thoughtful gender division of activities women should go out and work and men should be given free reign to go out and play. :(

Incidentally, in this house I make the tea. I have a figure to maintain after all :(

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We are NOT superior. Merely better at most tasks than you.

I have read somewhere that feminism has changed - or hasn't it?

Most women are better than most men at some tasks. Some men are better than most women at some tasks (especially those that you can measure in a scientific way). However, this is not very important. The main objective should be to create a system where all men and women reach their full potential.

Historically, men have held more powerful posts than women. They have often used this power to make sure women remain at a disadvantage. In recent years advanced capitalist societies have attempted to create more equality between the sexes. However, men still hold most of the high status, high income jobs. Some argue that this illustrates that women are in some way inferior to men. I reject that view. I believe that men in power continue to rig the system in their favour. As a result, more women than men fail to reach their full potential.

This is the point I was trying to make about women and ICT. In order to bring an end to this inequality I would like to see changes to the system. One of the most important areas these changes have to take place is in the school. Most importantly, changes have to take place in the minds of both men and women.

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Guest brinn
We are NOT superior. Merely better at most tasks than you.

I have read somewhere that feminism has changed - or hasn't it?

I assume we are both being ironic. [Or should I always put a wink? :tomatoes]

Back to the general point - let's face it. Men still control most aspects of society through their higher positions; hence men chose the higher status jobs and mainly employ other men for them etc.

At our school it is women who run all the departments which use computers - ICT and Business Studies - and the two most qualified people in ICT, with Masters no less, are two women. Most of the people on the 'New Technologies' teams are women too.

It just depends on women working for people who don't make sexist decisions and in spite of the legislation that is what happens all too often. I, personally, in an environment where women are not discouraged from ICT roles, haven't seen a shortage of women wanting to be involved in ICT and computing, but I do know it happens.

I also know that female colleagues from my place of work are still bearing the main responsibility for child and home care, as well as holding onto their jobs; In fifteen years, whilst I have met many men who help out, I have only ever met one male colleague with a family who fretted about getting home to feed the children on a regular basis. Perhaps at home, many professional women simply don't have the time their male colleagues have to spend posting on sites such as these.

Sometimes the answer is a lot less simple than trying to come up with some intellectual or personality-based reason for differences between the genders.

The historians would know how women are side-lined by social attitudes, surely, from their readings of history?

John - you neatly side-stepped my point about your discursive style, I note. Not too robust or analytical for you, was it? Oh, no, that would be us women, of course. What a silly view of women - somehow less emotionally robust and unable to take the rough and tumble of not merely internet based discourse, but internet based intellectual discourse.

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John - you neatly side-stepped my point about your discursive style, I note. Not too robust or analytical for you, was it? Oh, no, that would be us women, of course. What a silly view of women - somehow less emotionally robust and unable to take the rough and tumble of not merely internet based discourse, but internet based intellectual discourse.

Sorry, I have obviously missed the point you were trying to make. Please make it again and I will try to answer it.

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I think the reason that I have not posted much is that when I do come to the site (which is not as often as I should) I like to just read through the topics.

I like to think that I have good ICT skills (well I should as I am teaching a GCSE ICT course in addition to my own subject - music), but when using the computer it is usually for work. If I am wanting some stress release I would rather spend the time playing my violin or taking a nice long bath with a good book.....

I also find that I don't have that much time during term time to browse the internet. For example at a parents' evening last night that was meant to be from 5.30-7.30 I ended up not leaving until 9pm as I had a constant flow of parents to see me. Maybe that is because we women do like to talk more (hope I can get away with the stereotypically post here!!)

:DB)

Edited by Liza Field
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I also find that I don't have that much time during term time to browse the internet.  For example at a parents' evening last night that was meant to be from 5.30-7.30 I ended up not leaving until 9pm as I had a constant flow of parents to see me.  Maybe that is because we women do like to talk more (hope I can get away with the stereotypically post here!!)

:D  B)

I am already playing your violin in sympathy for you. :D

With the stupid one? :pop

Edited by Andrew Field
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