Gender Issues in Computer Networking

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    Gender Issues in Computer Networking
    
    Leslie Regan Shade
    McGill University
    Graduate Program in Communications
    shade@ice.cc.mcgill.ca
    shade@well.sf.ca.us
    ac900@freenet.carleton.ca
    
    Talk given at: Community Networking: the International 
    Free-Net Conference
    Carleton University, Ottawa, CANADA, 
    August 17-19, 1993

Copyright 1993 by Leslie Regan Shade. The paper is publically licensed
so that it may be copied for further distribution, provided that it is 
copied and distributed in its entirety, including this title page. 

    
    It seems that the topic of gender and computer networking is 
    the flavour of the month.  When I proposed this talk to 
    Dave Sutherland in June, I was already working on a 
    collaborative paper with Gladys We, a master's student in 
    Communications at  Simon Fraser University and the 
    Publications Coordinator of the Vancouver Free-Net, on 
    gender issues in networking, for the _Internet Business 
    Journal_.    Gladys had already co-written a similar article 
    for _Kinesis_, a Canadian feminist paper.  Later, I discovered 
    that Stephanie Brail, a free-lance journalist,   was writing an 
    article on women and networking for _On The Issues_, a 
    U.S.-based women's magazine.  Very soon thereafter, 
    e-mail to Anita Borg, "keeper" of the Systers mailing list, 
    and also a Consultant Engineer at Digital Equipment 
    Corporation's (DEC) Network Systems Laboratory in 
    Palo Alto revealed that she was preparing a talk on gender
    issues for Interval Research in the Bay Area. 
    
    Six months ago, at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy_ 
    conference held in the Bay Area, a panel was devoted to 
    gender issues in computing and telecommunications.  It was 
    organized by BAWIT--Bay Area Women in Telecommunications, 
    a working group sponsored by the Berkeley, California 
    chapter of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility.  
    As a member of BAWIT--although never IRL (in real life) 
    I commented on their paper and shared some bibliographic 
    sources. 
    
    And, in the past year, many academic articles 
    on various facets of gender and networking have been published, 
    as well as a book edited by Cheris Kramarae and Jeanie Taylor 
    of the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana, entitled 
    Women, Information Technology, and Scholarship.   
    Other happenings  related to gender and computer networking 
    included an electronic conference, "The Electronic Salon", 
    devoted to gender issues in "technoculture",  sponsored by 
    Lewis & Clark College in April of 1992. [Electronic Salon]  
    As well, many  lists (including Computers &  Academic Freedom, 
    Gender, Communet, and various UseNet groups)  have had on-going
    discussions about various aspects  of gender issues--related to 
    interpersonal communication in computer-mediated-
    communication (CMC), sexual harassment, access and 
    representation.  Also, many conferences and  lists related to 
    women's issues have been started or are in the formative stages.  
    
    Popular culture has also been reflecting women networking.  
    In last years film, "Single White Female", the character played 
    by Bridget Fonda is tied up by her lunatic roommate, and she 
    makes a desperate call for help by logging on to Compuserve.  
    Sci-fi books with technologically savvy women are more 
    common.  In Pad Cadigan's _Synners_, Gina and Sam are the 
    two main hacker characters in the Post-millennium L.A. 
    holocaust landscape, where, by the end of the novel, they 
    both find themselves literally jacked into the network. [Cadigan]  
    Bruce Sterling's _Islands in the Net_ featured the post-
    millennium super-mom-heroine, Laura Webster, fighting 
    data pirates, high-tech voodoo, and new-age mercenaries. 
    [Sterling] And, Neal Stephenson's _Snow Crash_ features
    Juanita Marquez, the "face department" for Black Sun System's
    avatars. [Stephenson]
    
    This summer the popular media has run stories on two incidents 
    related to computer networking and gender.  Both _Time_ 
    magazine and _The Washington Post_ covered "The Case of the 
    Cybercad", or the "on-line Lothario" on the WELL 
    (a private conferencing system running out of the Bay 
    Area).  This case involved a WELLbeing--dubbed Mr. X--
    who was romancing several different WELLbeing women at 
    the same time; the women involved found out; and through  
    the WELL's private women-only conference space, WOW 
    (Women on the WELL), decided to "out" the man in a more 
    public conference area on the WELL (although not revealing 
    his name).  Unfortunately, the _Time_ article erroneously 
    dismissed the WELL as a sort of "single's bar scene"; the 
    more perceptive _Washington Post_ article by John Schwartz 
    analyzed the incident as a test case for the new online terrain 
    of social interactions: "Anthropologists and sociologists too, 
    still are wondering what the lowly modem has wrought. The 
    ability to use our computers to reach out around the world 
    hasn't just revolutionized computing--it's creating new forms 
    of social  interaction that appear and evolve before the 
    academics  can get their pipes lit". [Schwartz]
    
    Earlier this month U.S.A. Today featured a story on: 
    "High-Tech Harassment... sexual harassment is making inroads 
    in cyberspace as female users increasingly report instances of 
    lewd messages, suggestive graphics or even electronic stalking 
    over computer networks. Most reported incidents have been at
    universities..." (U.S. A. Today) 
    
    Today, I will discuss some of the key issues and 
    controversies that have arisen regarding gender and computer 
    networking, including participation of women in computer 
    science,  participation of women in networking, issues of 
    access to networking, social interactions, pornography, and 
    the use of networking by women.  I will summarize by  
    suggesting possible strategies and policies that 
    community networks can adopt in order to ensure that women 
    will be equitably represented.
    
    Participation of Women in Computer Science 
    
    The statistics for women in the computer science field are 
    dismal,revealing that only a small percentage of computer 
    scientists and computer professionals are female. In the most 
    recent years for which statistics are available, women received 
    a third of the bachelor's degrees in computer science, 27% of 
    master's degrees, and 13% of PhDs. Women comprise a mere 
    7.8% of computer science and computer engineering faculties, 
    and only 2.7% of these are tenured. (Frenkel 1990, 38). 
    Put another way, "92% of CS and engineering faculty -- 
    and 97% of the tenured faculty--are male. And about one-third 
    of the computer science departments polled employ no women 
    faculty at all" [Cottrell, 1992]. 
    
    These figures aren't surprising given the early stereotyping of 
    toys for boys and girls: Transformers for boys and Math-Phobia 
    Barbie for girls.Videogames and educational software are replete 
    with aggressive metaphors:guns, missiles, spaceships, and 
    blasting asteroids, which typically don't appeal to girls. Witness the 
    very recent controversy over Sega's new game,entitled "Night 
    Trap," in which "nameless attackers dressed in black stalk
    scantily clad teen-age girls through a large house.  The girls 
    are portrayed as powerless to defend themselves and, unless 
    rescued by the player, are murdered" [Langberg, 1993].
    
    As well, the young girl who is an avid computerist might later 
    encounter in her professional career a masculine "locker-room 
    environment" in workplaces, technical conferences, and 
    computer trade shows which can be professionally demeaning. 
    Ellen Spertus [1991] described the biases that women face in 
    pursuing careers in computer science and how they deal with
    them. She solicited remarks on the net from female (and male) 
    students, faculty, and professionals involved in computer 
    science and engineering, and compiled these frank anecdotes 
    about job discrimination and sexist attitudes in the classroom 
    into a well-organized and thoughtful overview of
    recommendations and policies that can be implemented to make 
    the world of computer science more hospitable towards women. 
    These include: not tolerating sexual harassment; providing
    mentoring opportunities for women students; and making the 
    workplace, both corporate and academic, accommodate the 
    needs of career and children. 
    
    Janet Cottrell [1992] provides some useful suggestions to 
    make the university computing environment more hospitable 
    towards women, such as: making sure the computing facilities 
    are physically safe; ensuring that women are well-represented 
    in computing staff; making sure that pornographic images are 
    not allowed as background screens in labs and offices; making 
    sure that public labs are accessible for the non-aggressive 
    student;and providing individualized learning resources, such 
    as self-paced online or video training tools for students who 
    may feel uncomfortable in large classes. 
    
    Participation of women in networking
    
    As we all know, the Internet is expanding at an explosive rate.  
    1992 statistics put the Internet as extending to over 50 countries 
    on all seven continents, with approximately 5-10 million people 
    using it, and with as many as 15 million people communicating 
    between the Internet and other interconnecting networks. 
    [Hart, et. al]   These figures seem conservative now.  Many 
    private conferencing systems, such as the WELL, and ECHO 
    (New York City's "East Coast Hang-Out") now have  Internet 
    access.   Commercial IP network connectivity  providers are 
    mushrooming, provided by companies such as Advanced 
    Network and Services (ANS), CO+RE (Commercial plus 
    Research and Education), and the CIX (Commercial Internet 
    Exchange) members--AlterNet, PSINet, CERFnet, and Sprintnet.  
    And, Free-Nets in various cities internationally  have started up 
    or are in their formative stages--there are approximately 45 
    free-net organizing committees around the world.  There are at 
    least 11 free-nets in the U.S., with maybe more in the 
    formative stages; 2 in Canada, with 8 others in the formative 
    stages; and 1 in New Zealand. 
    
    But does this rapidly expanding user base include an equal 
    proportion of men and women? Probably not.  The breakdown of 
    gender usage on various networks is difficult to gauge, but it is 
    safe to say that women are not very well represented on most 
    networks.  This low visibility is not surprising, given that women 
    are still under-represented in almost every aspect of computer 
    culture,  from programming,  to product design, to everyday use. 
    
    Access to computer networking for women involves access to 
    both the hardware and the software to support communications. 
    Professional women who are in the academic or corporate 
    mainstream where Internet costs are basically "invisible" for 
    them can take advantage of the Internet.  Financially-advantaged 
    women can partake of the many private online services, such as 
    Prodigy, Delphi, American Online, Compuserve,  ECHO, and the 
    WELL. On-line costs average 10-20$ month, plus hourly connect 
    fees of 2-$5/hour. However, for those women (and other people) 
    that can't afford networking costs--or who don't own a computer 
    and modem- the introduction of free-nets is fortuitous.
    
    The placement of computers in public spaces, such as libraries and 
    various community centres, would allow those that don't own 
    personal computers to access community networks and partake of
    local resources, and from there, telnet out into the broader Internet 
    world.    The  penetration of personal computers into the average 
    household, though, isn't as high as telecom visionaries thought it 
    would be.   Free-net sponsored workshops on purchasing used or 
    new computers, or perhaps the donation of used or outmoded 
    equipment from computer manufacturers, might be a good strategy 
    for increasing domestic placement of pc's.  
    
    As well, women must have access to the training that will support 
    such communication, and access to significant and relevant 
    resources that can support their research or personal needs.  
    Hands-on,  face-2-face training is an option, as well as online 
    "navigating the net" workshops.   Novice network users--both 
    men and women--often find that they are overwhelmed by the 
    mountains of text available on the Internet. And, since 
    bibliographic control of the Internet is still in the 
    developmental stages, it is frequently quite difficult to become
    familiar with the tools.  
    
    Fortunately, however, several tools have been developed and 
    are being improved, which can aid in accessing the Internet 
    bounty.  These include Archie, a system for locating files
    (software programs, data, or text files) that are publically 
    available via anonymous FTP; and menu-based tools such as
    Gopher, WAIS, Veronica, and the World-Wide Web (WWW).
    
    As was mentioned before, the breakdown of gender usage on 
    networks is difficult to gauge, and depends on the network. 
    However, at the low end, women are  assumed to hover around 
    10-15% of the audience.  For instance,  the contribution of 
    women to UseNet newsgroups is typically not very high, but  
    the actual numbers are subject to debate.   In the unmoderated 
    feminist newsgroups (alt.feminism and soc.women), 
    approximately 80% of the messages are posted by men.  In 
    the moderated feminist group (soc. feminism), there is usually 
    about a 50/50 balance between women and men.  
    
    But, a  recent post to soc.women on women's participation 
    cited two differing figures: one reader said that after wading 
    through 130 articles and deleting all those from men, she was 
    left with only 12 posts from women.  Another reader countered 
    by saying that she (he?) counted more posts by women than men: 
    after eliminating a ll the  cross-posts out of a total of  568 articles 
    available on her node, 62 were left;  and of that number, 44 were
    from women and 18 from men (Article 58511, soc.women, Aug. 
    10, 1993).
    
    SeniorNet, a consumer-oriented online service available on 
    American OnLine, that caters to the "mature market",  
    reports that their audience mix is 51% female, 49% male.   
    Contrast this gender-balance to other services such as CompuServe, 
    GEnie. and Prodigy, where between 60-90% of the customers 
    are male [Arlen, 6]   How is SeniorNet attracting so many women? 
    
    Obviously, different networks will attract different audiences.   
    The WELL, from my experience there, seems to have a fairly
    high ratio of female WELLbeings. ECHO, (the East Coast Hang 
    Out) was started by a woman, Stacey Horn.  There  females 
    comprise 57% of the audience, and half of the conference hosts 
    are women.  Horn actively recruits and encourages women to get 
    on ECHO.  She offered the first year of ECHO free to women, 
    with the second year at reduced rates.  She's started  ECHO 
    School, which helps women out technically; and a Mentoring 
    Program for women, which consists of a group of women who 
    have volunteered to help new women "get acclimated to 
    cyberspace" (personal correspondence, August 1, 1993).
    
    And, when women participate in networks, are there gender 
    differences between  the way men and women talk and participate?
     
    Susan Herring at the University of Texas at Arlington analyzed 
    male and female participation in two academic electronic lists, 
    Linguist (devoted to the discussion of linguistics-related issues) and 
    Megabyte University (MBU) (devoted to the discussion of 
    computers and writing).  She concluded that "male and female 
    academic professionals do not participate equally in academic 
    CMC.  Rather, a small male minority dominates the discourse both
    in terms of amount of talk, and rhetorically, through self-
    promotional and adversarial strategies.  Moreover, when women 
    do attempt to participate on a more equal basis, they risk being 
    actively censored by the reactions of men who either ignore
    them or attempt to delegitimize their contributions.  Because of 
    social conditioning that makes women uncomfortable with 
    direct conflict, women tend to be more intimidated by these 
    practices and to avoid participating as a result....rather than being
    democratic, academic CMC is power-based and hierarchical.  This 
    state of affairs cannot however be attributed to the influence of 
    computer communication technology; rather, it continues pre-
    existing patterns of hierarchy and male dominance in academia  
    more generally, and in society as a whole" [Herring]
    
    Kathleen Michel of Miami University investigated gender
    differences in KIDCAFE, a networking project that links children 
    around the world.  Michel was interested in finding out if boys 
    and girls talked to each other more often using CMC, and, if 
    the medium let them understand each other better.  In 
    particular, she sought to apply linguist  Deborah Tannen's 
    theories of the gender differences in conversational styles--
    the "rapport" (cooperative, intimate style) versus "report" 
    (information giving)  styles of talk.  (Generally speaking, 
    more women engage in the "rapport" style; more men the 
    "report" style).  She concluded that, although boys and girls
     have different conversational patterns, the styles are not as 
    discrepant as Tannen would indicate. CMC can have very 
    positive effects for school children, she observed: "By
     linking students to other peers around the world through a 
    computer network, schools can positively effect the ways 
    in which male and females converse, and can open up more 
    opportunities for cross-gender communication...on-line , 
    social status and gender become less obvious differences 
    and extend the boundaries of the student's community. 
    A student doesn't have to break into a clique or take 
    social risks in order to hold a conversation with someone 
    she or he normally would not talk to". [Michel]
    
    Social Interactions
    
    Some of you might have seen a recent Peter Steiner cartoon in 
    The New Yorker magazine (July 5, 1993, p. 61).  In it, a dog 
    is sitting at a computer saying to his dog-friend, "On the Internet,
    nobody knows you're a dog".
    
    Unfortunately, as many women have found  out, cyberspace is
    not a gender-free space.  One of the characteristics of computer-
    mediated-communication (CMC) is its lack of easy social 
    contextualization.  Kiesler at. al. have noted that CMC neutralizes 
    such social status clues as appearance, voice, organizational 
    hierarchy, and often gender--this of course depends on the 
    handle used, mailing address, etc. Despite the relative 
    anonymity of CMC, though, some women report that they are 
    often harassed and intimidated from posting and participating on
    conferences or via e-mail. They often choose gender-neutral 
    handles, and prefer to post in women-only conferences or 
    mailing lists.
    
    Does the relative anonymity of the electronic medium encourage
    emotive behavior--flaming--and sometimes abusive language?  
    What constitutes harassment, or sexual harassment, on the net? 
    Is it possible to generalize about behavior on the net, or do we 
    need to consider the networking context--i.e, UseNet (its anarchy  
    seems to encourage a fair amount of crankiness and  flame-fests, 
    which can contribute to both its charm and irritability), versus  
    community-based free-nets, or  private commercial networks? 
    
    Gladys We of Simon Fraser University conducted a research
    project into how men and women felt about communicating 
    online, versus face-2-face. She sent a questionnaire to various 
    UseNet newsgroups and an eclectic range of mailing lists.  
    She concluded that: "On the surface, it would seem that most 
    people feel that cyberspace tends to be friendly to women.  It  
    allows women to adopt more active personas, and to speak 
    on a 'level-playing field' reduced of gender cues. "  Several 
    respondents to Gladys' survey sent her anecdotes about meeting 
    and falling in love online.  But, she also heard from others who 
    were harassed online: "...as one man said, 'try using a woman's 
    handle online someday and see how many 'hello's' you get as 
    compared to your regular handle (if you're a male, of course!)...
    one woman reported, 'in response  to my postings he sent e-mail
    calling me 'hairly legged feminazi'...and did lots of innuendos 
    about the probable deficits in my personal life". (We)
    
    The  issue of sexual harassment on the net is controversial.  
    Many women complain that various newsgroups and networking environments
    are hostile towards women.  Net.sleazing and 
    "trolling for babes" do exist on some networks. Harassment can 
    take many forms, and it has occurred in both public forums and 
    in private e-mail.  It can be subtle, such as personal questions 
    directed to a woman; or blatant, such as women receiving sexual
    propositions via e-mail.   
    
    The legal status of online harassment is murky, as case law 
    has not been established for many situations.  For instance, can  
    the typical UseNet commentary be classified as harassment?   
    Sexual harassment guidelines could be incorporated into general 
    University computing policies,  and, as Kramarae and Taylor 
    suggest, could include clarification of what constitutes offensive 
    messages and provide a grievance procedure for complaints of 
    sexual harassment. [Kramarae, Taylor]  An article in _Macweek_, 
    a computer industry publication, suggested that company managers 
    should incorporate online harassment into anti-harassment policies. 
    [Erlich]
    
    Education and recognition of the issues surrounding online 
    harassment is a  preventative measure we can take now. Cyberion 
    City at MIT is a MUSE-role-playing game which educates its users 
    by telling them: "...unwanted advances of hostile or forward nature 
    are unacceptable...if you think someone might be interested in 
    developing a closer personal relationship, it is your responsibility 
    to make absolutely sure of this before saying or doing anything that 
    would be considered inappropriate in real life...such inappropriate 
    behavior includes, but is not limited to, suggestive remarks; violation 
    of the other person's space; forward, intimate or suggestive conduct". 
    [as quoted in Truong]
    
    The idea of women-only lists and conferences has been suggested
    as a way to counteract harassment and monopolization of postings 
    by men.  Of course, given the relative insecurity of electronic 
    identity, and the fact that electronic personas can be easily spoofed, 
    such segregation is difficult to control. Several women-only 
    conferences exist, such as WOW--Women on the Well--(there is 
    also MOW--Men on the WELL); and  Systers, a private, 
    unmoderated, mailing list for female computer professionals 
    in the commercial, academic, and government world,  as well 
    as female graduate and undergraduate computer science and 
    computer engineering students. Anita Borg, the founder and 
    moderator of Systers, has often been asked to justify the 
    exclusion of men from her list, particularly given that the 
    list is not limited solely to discussions of women's issues, but 
    deals in professional and technical concerns.   She stated the 
    following points in her position paper for the "Gender Issues in 
    Computers and Telecommunications" panel at the _Computers, 
    Freedom, and Privacy_ conference: Since women in computer 
    sciences are geographically dispersed and a "frequently 
    individually isolated minority", they rarely have the chance to 
    interact professionally with each other.  The different 
    conversational styles of men and women prohibits an egalitarian 
    nature. An all-female forum allows for mentoring for CS women.  
    And, "the likelihood that an underpowered minority is keeping 
    otherwise inaccessible information from the large empowered
    majority...seems small indeed". [Borg]
    
    Gender-swapping is a popular pastime on some network 
    interactions. Amy  Bruckman at MIT has been conducting 
    research on social interactions in text-based virtual reality 
    environments on the Internet called MUDS (multi-user 
    domains).  Female MUDders (of which there are many) 
    report that they are often "besieged with attention",
    including unwanted sexual advances. As Bruckman writes, 
    "many people, both male and female, enjoy the attention 
    paid to female characters.  Male players will often log on as 
    female characters and behave suggestively, further encouraging 
    sexual advances.  Pavel Curtis has noted that the most 
    promiscuous and sexually aggressive women are usually 
    played by men.  If you meet a character named Fabulous 
    HotBabe, she is almost certainly a he in real life". 
    [Bruckman, Curtis]
    
    In 1985 Lindsy Van Gelder published her almost "classic" 
    tale  in _Ms._ magazine about the case of "Joan".  Joan" was
    a disabled single older woman who appeared on 
    Compuserve's "Between the Sexes" conference.  She 
    developed intimate relationships with other women, although 
    never face-2-face. After several years, "Joan" was discovered to 
    be a middle-aged male psychiatrist, "Alex". Such online 
    "cross-dressing" shook up the many women and men who 
    had "encountered" Joan throughout the years, and led many
    to be more suspicious and wary of computerized interactions..  
    
    Pornography
    
    The  ethical uses of computers and computer networks is a 
    contentious and unresolved area, both legally and socially.  
    There are no universal standards of governance, and it seems 
    unlikely and quite preposterous that such a consensus could
    ever be  reached, given both the evolving technological
    infrastructure, types of various information carriers and 
    providers, and variety of nationalistic notions of legal 
    jurisprudence.
    
    Sexual imagery and pornographic content on the nets is one of 
    these debatable arenas.  How, exactly, does one define computer
    pornography and "offensive" material on networks?  In this 
    last year alone many debates have surfaced within various 
    universities in North America and internationally as to whether 
    or not it is appropriate to censor the alt.sex hierarchy within 
    UseNet.  Where can one draw the line between freedom of 
    speech and mere censorship?  Are there any links between 
    computer pornography, sexual harassment, and sexual 
    violence? Are such "questionable" UseNet newsgroups a 
    "proper" use of University computing facilities? Should 
    community networks provide an "on-ramp" to these 
    newsgroups? Should minors be allowed access to these 
    newsgroups; or, put another way, how can you *not* 
    prevent minors from accessing these newsgroups?   Should 
    academic institutions, or community networks "police" 
    UseNet bulletin board postings and newsgroups based on 
    content, such as sexual explicitness (which could be in 
    perceived violation of the law) without consulting the user 
    community?  What kinds of mechanisms should be instituted, 
    if at all, to judge the acceptability of the contents of certain 
    newsgroups?  What legal rights regarding free speech and 
    privacy should network users be entitled to? 
    
    Use of Networks By Women
    
    Despite some of the hazards and irritation that some women 
    have encountered online, access to networking has also 
    encouraged a wealth of surprising uses for women.  
    I think it's important to highlight some of the more positive 
    benefits of computer networking for women, because it seems 
    that any media coverage of networking tends to zoom in on 
    the more salacious and sensationalistic aspects.
    
    Networking has been increasingly recognized by female scholars 
    as being a tool for feminist empowerment, and many women
    have taken to the net to create, as  Ebben and Kramarae call it, 
    "a cyberspace of our own".  There are now many UseNet
    newsgroups and lists that cater to the research needs of women 
    scholars, from MEFEM, a list for female medievalists; to 
    WISENET, a list for women in science and engineering; to the 
    South Asian Women's List; to WMST-L, the Women's 
    Studies List. [see Appendix for list of resources]  
    
    Several grassroots networking projects have also benefited
    women. Big Sky Telegraph, a computerized BBS system  
    in Montana, has been used to  connect together the 
    geographically dispersed directors of the various Montana 
    Women's Centers. BST has also been used to provide 
    computer training to homebound women.  [Odasz]
    
    Mexican women's groups--through the Institute for Global 
    Communications (IGC) networks--have found that networking 
    has facilitated their work in fighting NAFTA. For instance, 
    Mujer a Mujer/Woman to Woman, based in Mexico City, has
    found networking to be indispensable in coordinating the 
    Tri-National Working Women's Conference on NAFTA, the 
    reports of which were posted online for the entire community 
    to read. [Frederick]
    
    One of the biggest challenges is widening access to the net for 
    women that aren't institutionally affiliated, whether in industry 
    or academia,  where they purportedly have "ready" access to
    both the hardware and software, and technical expertise, to 
    successfully learn how to navigate the net. 
    
    Ellen Balka of Memorial University at Newfoundland has
    written that "perhaps the greatest issue faced by the women's 
    movement with respect to the adoption of computer networking
    technology is access...access to communication constraints imposed 
    by the infrastructure of data lines and value-added 
    carriers...access to the location of networks and terminals: 
    whether they are located in a public  place and available for 
    use free of charge as Community Memory terminals were, or 
    whether they are located in a private home or office...and 
    access to the knowledge and related support mechanisms 
    that will allow a novice user to successfully contact a 
    computer network". [Balka]
    
    As well, it is important  to develop resources and tools that 
    address the needs of various women.   WON--the Women's 
    Online Network that is an off-shoot of ECHO, is an online 
    advocacy and action  group for women.  It is currently being 
    revamped, and will be sponsored by a variety of U.S. women's 
    groups, including Ms. , WAC, WHAM!,  and WAA.   It is 
    certainly not inconceivable that the same sort of collaboration 
    could be fostered across Canada amongst various women's 
    groups using community networks as the anchor. 
    
    Community networks are well situated to increase the 
    participation and use of networks by women.  It is difficult 
    to speak in generalities about how to do this, since such
    recruitment tends to be  community-specific.  Vancouver's 
    Free-Net, for instance, has established a "Task Force for 
    Equal Access",  whose role will be to approach community 
    organizations that don't have ready access to  computers and 
    help them get the computers and training to get online. As well,
    the committee will try to get donations of computers for 
    placement in various community centres, such as senior citizens 
    centres, women's centres, etc. 
    
    A mentoring program, such as that  set up by Stacey Horn of 
    ECHO, where volunteers help women get online is also a 
    good strategy.  Perhaps "aggressiveness training" could become 
    one of the components here. Online navigating-the-net programs 
    can encourage people to explore the wider world of the Internet. 
    Developing programs and services for children is also necessary--
    and a mentor program designed for young girls might, in 
    particular, encourage more of them to enter the CS field.  It is 
    not unimaginable, for instance, to envision kids newsgroups,
    such as  kids.ninjas; kids.dinosaurs, kids.yucky-parents, 
    kids.knock-knock-jokes, and kids.barbie.hollywood-hair. 
    
    This forthcoming November, CRIAW (the Canadian Research 
    Institute for the Advancement of Women) will publish a 
    handbook written by Ellen Balka on community networking for 
    women.  Chapters will be devoted to networking history, women's
    use of nets,  access issues,  design, and  organizational needs.  
    
    In a  recent article in _Technology Review_, Langdon Winner 
    quotes Richard Civille, director of the Washington office of the 
    Center for Civic Networking. Civille suggests "earmarking 1 
    percent of the $350-million a year that President Clinton wants to 
    spend on 'community development banks' for building civic 
    networks.  The Census Bureau could survey the nation's computer 
    owners to see how they use online services.  Some fraction of the 
    federal budget for an information infrastructure could go to study
    information equity--just as the Human Genome Project sets 
    aside 5% of its appropriation to explore ethical issues". [Winner] 
    
    A similar strategy could apply to CANARIE, the Canadian 
    Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry, and 
    Education, given the government's recent commitment to 
    invest $26-million for the first phase of the project. With the
    increasingly  swift commercialization of the Internet (a recent 
    news blurb reported that more than 54 Internet trademarks were 
    pending at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office--see _The 
    Internet Letter_)  it is vital that information equity be a paramount 
    policy consideration, and it seems that community networks will be
    one of the venues for fostering this.   
    
    Conclusion
    
    As Gladys We and I wrote, "the new 'electronic frontier' is
    unfortunately still a very masculine dominated space, one in 
    which many women may feel uncomfortable at the best of times.  
    Ensuring equitable gender access to the Internet should be a 
    prerogative of this information age.  This means that we must 
    pay close attention to the metaphors that people will use and 
    see in this new world, so that they won't exclude women, or 
    include them in undesirable ways.  It means making the Internet 
    easily accessible to all people; making networking an attractive
    communications tool for women, by creating tangible and viable 
    information and resources; and by encouraging young girls and
    women to become involved in the development and deployment
    of the technology.  It also means creating a friendly online 
    environment, one that allows women to speak their thoughts 
    without having to hide their gender.  The world of cyberspace is 
    one which is being shaped daily by the millions of interactions on 
    it, and women can contribute much to these exchanges." 
    [Shade, We].
              
    
    References
    
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    by The Aspen Institute's Communications and Society Program in Queenstown.
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    [Balka]  Balka, Ellen. (1993, February).  "Women's access to 
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    n.1.  {to retrieve file send command: send balka v3n193 to
    comserve@rpitsvm.bitnet (bitnet) or comserve@vm.Its.Rpi.edu 
    (Internet) 
    
    [Borg]  Borg, Anita.  (1993).  "The rationale for a closed electronic
    forum". Position paper for "Gender Issues in Computers and
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    Computers, Freedom, and Privacy_,  Burlingame, CA, March 1993.
    
    [Bruckman]  Bruckman, Amy.  (1993).  "Gender swapping on the 
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    [Cadigan] Cadigan, Pat.  (1991). _Synners_ .  N.Y.: Bantam Books. 
    
    [Cottrell] Cottrell, Janet.( 1992). "I'm a Stranger here Myself: 
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    ACM SIGUCCS User Services Conference, November 8-11,1992, Cleveland, OH.
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    Machinery. pp. 71-76.
    
    [Curtis]  [Curtis, Pavel. (1992). "MUDding: social phenomena in
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    via anonymous FTP from parcftp.xerox.comj in
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    [Ebben, Kramarae] Ebben,  Maureen; Kramarae, Cheris.  (1993). 
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    our own", pp.15-27 in  _Women, Information Technology, & 
    Scholarship_, ed. Taylor, Kramarae, Ebben. Urbana, Il: WITS 
    Colloquium. Center for Advanced Study.
    
    [Electronic Salon] Electronic Salon papers are available via 
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    [Erlich]  Erlich, Reese, (1992, December 14) "Sexual harassment 
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    [Frederick] Frederick, Howard H. (1993, March). _North American 
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    DRU-234-FF (draft), RAND, Santa Monica, California.  
    
    [Frenkel] Frenkel, Karen A. 1990. "Women & Computing". Communications of
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    [Hart, et.al.]  Hart, Jeffrey A., Robert R. Reed, and Francois 
    Bar.  (1992, November).  "The building of the Internet:
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    Telecommunications Policy_:666-689.
    
    [Herring]  Herring, Susan C. (1993).  "Gender and democracy 
    in computer-mediated communication".  _Electronic Journal of
    Communication_, v.3, n.2.
    
    [Internet Letter ]  "Companies rush to secure Internet trademarks". 
    (1993, October). _The Internet Letter_, v.1, n.1.  {A Net Week 
    Inc. publication}
    
    
    [Kiesler, et.al.]  Kiesler, Sara; Siegel, J.; McGuire, T.W. (1984). 
    "Social psychological aspects of computer-mediated 
    communication". _American Psychologist_ v.39: 1123-1134; 
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    social choices_, ed. Charles Dunlop and Rob Kling. Academic 
    Press, 1991: 330-349.
    
    [Kramarae, Taylor] Kramarae, Cheris; H. Jeanie Taylor. (1993). 
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    & Scholarship_. Urbana, Illinois: Center for Advanced Study, 
    Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
    
    [Langberg] Langberg, Mike. (1993, May 25). "Sega plans first 
    video-game rating system". _San Jose Mercury News_.
    
    [Michel] Michel, Kathleen. (1992).  "Gender differences in 
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    [Odasz]  Odasz, Frank. (1991, Summer).  "Big Sky Telegraph", 
    _Whole Earth Review_: 32-35.
    
    [Spertus] Spertus, Ellen. "Why are There so Few Female 
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    MIT, 1991. [available via anonymous FTP from ftp.ai.mit.edu 
    in pub/ellens/mget womcs*.ps]
    
    [Shade, We]  Shade, Leslie Regan; Gladys We. (1993). "Gender
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    [Stephenson]  Stephenson, Neal. (1992).  _Snow Crash_.  N.Y.: 
    Bantam Books.
    
    [Sterling] Sterling, Bruce.  (1988).  _Islands in the Net_. N.Y.: 
    Ace Books.
    
     [Tannen]  Tannen, Deborah. (1990).  _You Just Don't 
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    [Truong] Truong, Hoai-An.  (1993, March). "Gender Issues 
    in Online Communication".  Paper Presented at _Third 
    Conference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy_,  Burlingame, 
    CA, March 1993.  [In conjunction with BAWIT-Bay Area 
    Women in Telecommunications] [Available via ftp to ftp.cpsr.org: 
    CD: Gender]
    
    [U.S.A. Today]  _U.S.A. Today_ (1993, August 6). "High 
    Tech Harassment": B1.
    
    [Van Gelder] Van Gelder, Lindsy. (1991).  "The strange case 
    of the electronic lover", in _Computerization and Controversy:
     value conflicts and social choices_, ed. Charles Dunlop and 
    Rob Kling. Academic Press: 364-375.
    
    [We]  We, Gladys.  (1993) "Cross-gender communication in 
    cyberspace". Unpublished ms., Simon Fraser University.
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    [Winner]  Winner, Langdon.  (1993, August/September). "Beyond
    Inter-Passive Media".  _Technology Review_ : 69.
    
    ***************************************
    APPENDIX: CONFERENCES AND LISTS 
    
    BIFEM-L: moderated list for women only.  Its purpose is to 
    provide a safe space primarily for bisexual women.  
    Subscription requests:  LISTSERV@BROWNVM
    (Bitnet) or LISTSERV@BROWNVM.BROWN.EDU (Internet).  
    
    ECHO: East Coast Hang Out. 
    Subscription requests: HORN@ECHONYC.COM
    
    EDUCOM-W: Moderated list for issues of technology and education that 
    are of interest to women.
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@BITNIC (Bitnet), or
    LISTSERV@BITNIC.EDUCOM.EDU (Internet).
    
    
    FEMAIL: For feminists around the world. Open to both men and 
    women.
    Subscription requests to:
    FEMAILREQUEST@LUCERNE.ENG.SUN.COM (Internet).
         
    FEMECON-L: List for feminist economists. 
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@BUCKNELL.EDU (Internet). 
    
    FEMINISM-DIGEST:  Digest form of soc.feminism available via 
    email. 
    Subscription requests: FEMINISM-DIGEST@NCAR.UCAR.EDU (Internet) or
    FEMINISM-DIGEST%NCAR.UCAR.EDU@NCARIO (Bitnet).  
    
    FEMINIST( owned by the Feminist Task Force of the American 
    Library Association).   Issues including sexism in libraries and 
    librarianship; pornography and censorship in libraries, and racism 
    and  ethnic diversity in librarianship.  
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@MITVMA (Bitnet) or LISTSERV@MITVMA.MIT.EDU
    (Internet).
    
    FEMISA: Discussion list re:  feminism, gender, women and 
    international relations.
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@CSF.COLORADO.EDU 
    (Internet).
    
    FEMREL-L : Women and religion and feminist theology. 
    Subscription requests:  LISTSERV@MIZZOU1 (Bitnet).
    
    FIST (Feminism in/and Science and Technology): Unmoderated  
    list for discussion of feminism and science and technology.  
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@DAWN.HAMPSHIRE.EDU 
    (Internet).
    
    GAYNET:  list focusing on gay and lesbian concerns on college   
    campuses.  
    Subscription messages should be sent to
    GAYNET-REQUEST@ATHENA.MIT.EDU (Internet).
    
    
    GENDER: Moderated list devoted to issues re: gender and 
    communication.
    Subscription requests to:  COMSERVE@RPITSVM (Bitnet) or
    COMSERVE@VM.ITS.RPI.EDU (Internet).
    
    GEGSTAFF: Discussion of sexuality and gender in geography,
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@UKCC.UKY.EDU (Internet)
    or LISTERV@UKCC.
         
    GLB-NEWS: "read-only depository of information for gay,
    lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, and sympathetic
    persons."
    Subscription requests:  LISTSERV@BROWNVM (Bitnet) or
    LISTSERV@BROWNVM.BROWN.EDU (Internet).
    
    GEOGFEM: Gender issues in geography. 
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@UKCC.UKY.EDU (Internet) or LISTSERV@UKCC.
    
    HELWA-LL List for Malaysian women in the U.S. and Canada. 
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@PSUVM (Bitnet).
    
    KOL-ISHA:  Moderated list for halachic questions and issues 
    concerning women's roles in Judaism. 
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@ISRAEL.NYSERNET.ORG 
    (Internet).
    
    LIS:  Lesbians in Science and is a list for lesbians in industry, 
    universities, government labs, etc.  
    Subscription requests: ZITA@JUNO.PHYSICS.WISC.EDU; send postings to
    LIS@JUNO.PHYSICS.WISC.EDU.
    
    MAIL-MEN: forum for discussion of men's issues.
    Subscription requests: MAIL-MEN-REQUEST@USL.COM 
    (Internet).
    
    MEDFEM-L:  List for feminist medievalists. 
    Subscription requests to:LISTSERV@INDYCMS (Bitnet) or
    LISTSERV@INDYCMS.IUPUI.EDU (Internet).
    
    NOGLSTP: The National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists
    and Technical Professionals.  
    Subscription requests to 
    NOGLSTP-REQUEST@ELROY.JPL.NASA.GOV.
         
    PRO-FEMINIST MEN'S ISSUES MAILING LIST: for both men
    and women. 
    Subscription requests: JYANOWITZ@HAMP.HAMPSHIRE.EDU (Internet).
    
    SAPPHO:  forum and support group for gay and bisexual women.
    Membership is open to all women and is limited to women.  
    Subscription requests: contact SAPPHO-REQUEST@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU (Internet).
    
    SASH (Sociologists Against Sexual Harassment):  Moderated list
    focusing on sexual harassment. 
    Subscription requests: Phoebe M. Stambaugh, AZPXS@ASUACAD (Bitnet) or
    AZPXS@ASUVM.INRE.ASU.EDU(Internet).
    
    SOUTH ASIAN WOMEN'S NET: Discussion group for women 
    from the south asian countries re concerns of south asian women. 
    Women only.
    Subscription requests:  USUBRAMA@MAGNUS.ACS.OHIO-STATE.EDU or to
    SUSANC@HELIX.NIH.GOV
    
    SSSSTALK: List for professional  researchers, clinicians, educators, 
    and students in the field of sexuality.
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@TAMVM1 (Bitnet) or
    LISTSERV@TAMVM1.TAMU.EDU (Internet).
    
    STOPRAPE: Sexual assault activist list.  
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@BROWNVM (Bitnet) or
    LISTSERV@BROWNVM.BROWN.EDU (Internet).
    
    SWIP-L:  Society for Women in Philosophy.
    Subscription requests:LISTSERV@CFRVM (Bitnet) or
    LISTSERV@CFRVM.CFR.USF.EDU (Internet).
    
    
    SYSTERS:  For professional women only  in computer science.
    Subscription requests: Anita Borg at systers-request@pa.dec.com.
    Please put "addsyster" in the subject field of the message.
    
    WIML-L (Women's Issues in Music Librarianship). 
    Subscription requests:  Laura Gayle Green, LGREEN@IUBVM (Bitnet).   
    
    WIPHYS:  Moderated list for issues of concern to women in
    physics.  
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@NYSERNET.ORG (Internet).
        
    WIRE: Women;s Information Retrieval and Exchange
    Nancy Rhine (nancy@well.sf.ca.us)
    Forthcoming: "a new online communication service offering fast-
    breaking news stories and lively conversations on the issues
    impacting women's lives today. Includes databases on topics such 
    as health information, referral services,women's colleges/studies, 
    financial tips. and professional and political women's organizations."
    
    WISENET:  List for women in science, mathematics,and engineering.  
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@UICVM (Bitnet) or
    LISTSERV@UICVM.UIC.EDU (Internet).
    
    WMN-HLTH:  Women's Health Electronic News Line,  started by the
    Center for Women's Health Research.  
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@UWAVM (Bitnet) or
    LISTSERV@UWAVM.U.WASHINGTON.EDU (Internet).
    
    WMST-L: Forum for women's studies academics. 
    Subscription requests:WMST-L@UMDD.UMD.EDU (Internet), or LISTSERV@UMDD.
    
    WOMEN: general purpose list for women and women's groups. 
    Subscription request: WOMEN-REQUEST@ATHENA.MIT.EDU 
    (Internet)
    
    
    WON, the Women's Online Network:  Electronic political group for  
    women.whose aim is to distribute information and aid in political 
    action.  
    Subscription request and info: contact the co-founders at
    CARMELA@ECHONYC.COM or HORN@ECHONYC.COM
    (Internet);   phone: (212) 255-3839.
    
    WOW, Women on the Well.  Women-only.
    Subscription requests: well.sf.ca.us. vice: 415-332-4335


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