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(Created page with "<pre> Gender Issues in Computer Networking Leslie Regan Shade McGill University Graduate Program in Communications [email protected] [email protected]")
 
 
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Gender Issues in Computer Networking
    Gender Issues in Computer Networking
 
 
      
 
      
 
     Leslie Regan Shade
 
     Leslie Regan Shade
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    It seems that the topic of gender and computer networking is  
+
It seems that the topic of gender and computer networking is  
    the flavour of the month.  When I proposed this talk to  
+
the flavour of the month.  When I proposed this talk to  
    Dave Sutherland in June, I was already working on a  
+
Dave Sutherland in June, I was already working on a  
    collaborative paper with Gladys We, a master's student in  
+
collaborative paper with Gladys We, a master's student in  
    Communications at  Simon Fraser University and the  
+
Communications at  Simon Fraser University and the  
    Publications Coordinator of the Vancouver Free-Net, on  
+
Publications Coordinator of the Vancouver Free-Net, on  
    gender issues in networking, for the _Internet Business  
+
gender issues in networking, for the _Internet Business  
    Journal_.    Gladys had already co-written a similar article  
+
Journal_.    Gladys had already co-written a similar article  
    for _Kinesis_, a Canadian feminist paper.  Later, I discovered  
+
for _Kinesis_, a Canadian feminist paper.  Later, I discovered  
    that Stephanie Brail, a free-lance journalist,  was writing an  
+
that Stephanie Brail, a free-lance journalist,  was writing an  
    article on women and networking for _On The Issues_, a  
+
article on women and networking for _On The Issues_, a  
    U.S.-based women's magazine.  Very soon thereafter,  
+
U.S.-based women's magazine.  Very soon thereafter,  
    e-mail to Anita Borg, "keeper" of the Systers mailing list,  
+
e-mail to Anita Borg, "keeper" of the Systers mailing list,  
    and also a Consultant Engineer at Digital Equipment  
+
and also a Consultant Engineer at Digital Equipment  
    Corporation's (DEC) Network Systems Laboratory in  
+
Corporation's (DEC) Network Systems Laboratory in  
    Palo Alto revealed that she was preparing a talk on gender
+
Palo Alto revealed that she was preparing a talk on gender
    issues for Interval Research in the Bay Area.  
+
issues for Interval Research in the Bay Area.  
 
      
 
      
    Six months ago, at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy_  
+
Six months ago, at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy_  
    conference held in the Bay Area, a panel was devoted to  
+
conference held in the Bay Area, a panel was devoted to  
    gender issues in computing and telecommunications.  It was  
+
gender issues in computing and telecommunications.  It was  
    organized by BAWIT--Bay Area Women in Telecommunications,  
+
organized by BAWIT--Bay Area Women in Telecommunications,  
    a working group sponsored by the Berkeley, California  
+
a working group sponsored by the Berkeley, California  
    chapter of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility.   
+
chapter of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility.   
    As a member of BAWIT--although never IRL (in real life)  
+
As a member of BAWIT--although never IRL (in real life)  
    I commented on their paper and shared some bibliographic  
+
I commented on their paper and shared some bibliographic  
    sources.  
+
sources.  
 
      
 
      
    And, in the past year, many academic articles  
+
And, in the past year, many academic articles  
    on various facets of gender and networking have been published,  
+
on various facets of gender and networking have been published,  
    as well as a book edited by Cheris Kramarae and Jeanie Taylor  
+
as well as a book edited by Cheris Kramarae and Jeanie Taylor  
    of the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana, entitled  
+
of the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana, entitled  
    Women, Information Technology, and Scholarship.   
+
Women, Information Technology, and Scholarship.   
    Other happenings  related to gender and computer networking  
+
Other happenings  related to gender and computer networking  
    included an electronic conference, "The Electronic Salon",  
+
included an electronic conference, "The Electronic Salon",  
    devoted to gender issues in "technoculture",  sponsored by  
+
devoted to gender issues in "technoculture",  sponsored by  
    Lewis & Clark College in April of 1992. [Electronic Salon]   
+
Lewis & Clark College in April of 1992. [Electronic Salon]   
    As well, many  lists (including Computers &  Academic Freedom,  
+
As well, many  lists (including Computers &  Academic Freedom,  
    Gender, Communet, and various UseNet groups)  have had on-going
+
Gender, Communet, and various UseNet groups)  have had on-going
    discussions about various aspects  of gender issues--related to  
+
discussions about various aspects  of gender issues--related to  
    interpersonal communication in computer-mediated-
+
interpersonal communication in computer-mediated-
    communication (CMC), sexual harassment, access and  
+
communication (CMC), sexual harassment, access and  
    representation.  Also, many conferences and  lists related to  
+
representation.  Also, many conferences and  lists related to  
    women's issues have been started or are in the formative stages.   
+
women's issues have been started or are in the formative stages.   
 
      
 
      
    Popular culture has also been reflecting women networking.   
+
Popular culture has also been reflecting women networking.   
    In last years film, "Single White Female", the character played  
+
In last years film, "Single White Female", the character played  
    by Bridget Fonda is tied up by her lunatic roommate, and she  
+
by Bridget Fonda is tied up by her lunatic roommate, and she  
    makes a desperate call for help by logging on to Compuserve.   
+
makes a desperate call for help by logging on to Compuserve.   
    Sci-fi books with technologically savvy women are more  
+
Sci-fi books with technologically savvy women are more  
    common.  In Pad Cadigan's _Synners_, Gina and Sam are the  
+
common.  In Pad Cadigan's _Synners_, Gina and Sam are the  
    two main hacker characters in the Post-millennium L.A.  
+
two main hacker characters in the Post-millennium L.A.  
    holocaust landscape, where, by the end of the novel, they  
+
holocaust landscape, where, by the end of the novel, they  
    both find themselves literally jacked into the network. [Cadigan]   
+
both find themselves literally jacked into the network. [Cadigan]   
    Bruce Sterling's _Islands in the Net_ featured the post-
+
Bruce Sterling's _Islands in the Net_ featured the post-
    millennium super-mom-heroine, Laura Webster, fighting  
+
millennium super-mom-heroine, Laura Webster, fighting  
    data pirates, high-tech voodoo, and new-age mercenaries.  
+
data pirates, high-tech voodoo, and new-age mercenaries.  
    [Sterling] And, Neal Stephenson's _Snow Crash_ features
+
[Sterling] And, Neal Stephenson's _Snow Crash_ features
    Juanita Marquez, the "face department" for Black Sun System's
+
Juanita Marquez, the "face department" for Black Sun System's
    avatars. [Stephenson]
+
avatars. [Stephenson]
 
      
 
      
    This summer the popular media has run stories on two incidents  
+
This summer the popular media has run stories on two incidents  
    related to computer networking and gender.  Both _Time_  
+
related to computer networking and gender.  Both _Time_  
    magazine and _The Washington Post_ covered "The Case of the  
+
magazine and _The Washington Post_ covered "The Case of the  
    Cybercad", or the "on-line Lothario" on the WELL  
+
Cybercad", or the "on-line Lothario" on the WELL  
    (a private conferencing system running out of the Bay  
+
(a private conferencing system running out of the Bay  
    Area).  This case involved a WELLbeing--dubbed Mr. X--
+
Area).  This case involved a WELLbeing--dubbed Mr. X--
    who was romancing several different WELLbeing women at  
+
who was romancing several different WELLbeing women at  
    the same time; the women involved found out; and through   
+
the same time; the women involved found out; and through   
    the WELL's private women-only conference space, WOW  
+
the WELL's private women-only conference space, WOW  
    (Women on the WELL), decided to "out" the man in a more  
+
(Women on the WELL), decided to "out" the man in a more  
    public conference area on the WELL (although not revealing  
+
public conference area on the WELL (although not revealing  
    his name).  Unfortunately, the _Time_ article erroneously  
+
his name).  Unfortunately, the _Time_ article erroneously  
    dismissed the WELL as a sort of "single's bar scene"; the  
+
dismissed the WELL as a sort of "single's bar scene"; the  
    more perceptive _Washington Post_ article by John Schwartz  
+
more perceptive _Washington Post_ article by John Schwartz  
    analyzed the incident as a test case for the new online terrain  
+
analyzed the incident as a test case for the new online terrain  
    of social interactions: "Anthropologists and sociologists too,  
+
of social interactions: "Anthropologists and sociologists too,  
    still are wondering what the lowly modem has wrought. The  
+
still are wondering what the lowly modem has wrought. The  
    ability to use our computers to reach out around the world  
+
ability to use our computers to reach out around the world  
    hasn't just revolutionized computing--it's creating new forms  
+
hasn't just revolutionized computing--it's creating new forms  
    of social  interaction that appear and evolve before the  
+
of social  interaction that appear and evolve before the  
    academics  can get their pipes lit". [Schwartz]
+
academics  can get their pipes lit". [Schwartz]
 
      
 
      
    Earlier this month U.S.A. Today featured a story on:  
+
Earlier this month U.S.A. Today featured a story on:  
    "High-Tech Harassment... sexual harassment is making inroads  
+
"High-Tech Harassment... sexual harassment is making inroads  
    in cyberspace as female users increasingly report instances of  
+
in cyberspace as female users increasingly report instances of  
    lewd messages, suggestive graphics or even electronic stalking  
+
lewd messages, suggestive graphics or even electronic stalking  
    over computer networks. Most reported incidents have been at
+
over computer networks. Most reported incidents have been at
    universities..." (U.S. A. Today)  
+
universities..." (U.S. A. Today)  
 
      
 
      
    Today, I will discuss some of the key issues and  
+
Today, I will discuss some of the key issues and  
    controversies that have arisen regarding gender and computer  
+
controversies that have arisen regarding gender and computer  
    networking, including participation of women in computer  
+
networking, including participation of women in computer  
    science,  participation of women in networking, issues of  
+
science,  participation of women in networking, issues of  
    access to networking, social interactions, pornography, and  
+
access to networking, social interactions, pornography, and  
    the use of networking by women.  I will summarize by   
+
the use of networking by women.  I will summarize by   
    suggesting possible strategies and policies that  
+
suggesting possible strategies and policies that  
    community networks can adopt in order to ensure that women  
+
community networks can adopt in order to ensure that women  
    will be equitably represented.
+
will be equitably represented.
 
      
 
      
    Participation of Women in Computer Science  
+
 
 +
Participation of Women in Computer Science  
 
      
 
      
    The statistics for women in the computer science field are  
+
The statistics for women in the computer science field are  
    dismal,revealing that only a small percentage of computer  
+
dismal,revealing that only a small percentage of computer  
    scientists and computer professionals are female. In the most  
+
scientists and computer professionals are female. In the most  
    recent years for which statistics are available, women received  
+
recent years for which statistics are available, women received  
    a third of the bachelor's degrees in computer science, 27% of  
+
a third of the bachelor's degrees in computer science, 27% of  
    master's degrees, and 13% of PhDs. Women comprise a mere  
+
master's degrees, and 13% of PhDs. Women comprise a mere  
    7.8% of computer science and computer engineering faculties,  
+
7.8% of computer science and computer engineering faculties,  
    and only 2.7% of these are tenured. (Frenkel 1990, 38).  
+
and only 2.7% of these are tenured. (Frenkel 1990, 38).  
    Put another way, "92% of CS and engineering faculty --  
+
Put another way, "92% of CS and engineering faculty --  
    and 97% of the tenured faculty--are male. And about one-third  
+
and 97% of the tenured faculty--are male. And about one-third  
    of the computer science departments polled employ no women  
+
of the computer science departments polled employ no women  
    faculty at all" [Cottrell, 1992].  
+
faculty at all" [Cottrell, 1992].  
 
      
 
      
    These figures aren't surprising given the early stereotyping of  
+
These figures aren't surprising given the early stereotyping of  
    toys for boys and girls: Transformers for boys and Math-Phobia  
+
toys for boys and girls: Transformers for boys and Math-Phobia  
    Barbie for girls.Videogames and educational software are replete  
+
Barbie for girls. Videogames and educational software are replete  
    with aggressive metaphors:guns, missiles, spaceships, and  
+
with aggressive metaphors:guns, missiles, spaceships, and  
    blasting asteroids, which typically don't appeal to girls. Witness the  
+
blasting asteroids, which typically don't appeal to girls. Witness the  
    very recent controversy over Sega's new game,entitled "Night  
+
very recent controversy over Sega's new game,entitled "Night  
    Trap," in which "nameless attackers dressed in black stalk
+
Trap," in which "nameless attackers dressed in black stalk
    scantily clad teen-age girls through a large house.  The girls  
+
scantily clad teen-age girls through a large house.  The girls  
    are portrayed as powerless to defend themselves and, unless  
+
are portrayed as powerless to defend themselves and, unless  
    rescued by the player, are murdered" [Langberg, 1993].
+
rescued by the player, are murdered" [Langberg, 1993].
 
      
 
      
    As well, the young girl who is an avid computerist might later  
+
As well, the young girl who is an avid computerist might later  
    encounter in her professional career a masculine "locker-room  
+
encounter in her professional career a masculine "locker-room  
    environment" in workplaces, technical conferences, and  
+
environment" in workplaces, technical conferences, and  
    computer trade shows which can be professionally demeaning.  
+
computer trade shows which can be professionally demeaning.  
    Ellen Spertus [1991] described the biases that women face in  
+
Ellen Spertus [1991] described the biases that women face in  
    pursuing careers in computer science and how they deal with
+
pursuing careers in computer science and how they deal with
    them. She solicited remarks on the net from female (and male)  
+
them. She solicited remarks on the net from female (and male)  
    students, faculty, and professionals involved in computer  
+
students, faculty, and professionals involved in computer  
    science and engineering, and compiled these frank anecdotes  
+
science and engineering, and compiled these frank anecdotes  
    about job discrimination and sexist attitudes in the classroom  
+
about job discrimination and sexist attitudes in the classroom  
    into a well-organized and thoughtful overview of
+
into a well-organized and thoughtful overview of
    recommendations and policies that can be implemented to make  
+
recommendations and policies that can be implemented to make  
    the world of computer science more hospitable towards women.  
+
the world of computer science more hospitable towards women.  
    These include: not tolerating sexual harassment; providing
+
These include: not tolerating sexual harassment; providing
    mentoring opportunities for women students; and making the  
+
mentoring opportunities for women students; and making the  
    workplace, both corporate and academic, accommodate the  
+
workplace, both corporate and academic, accommodate the  
    needs of career and children.  
+
needs of career and children.  
 
      
 
      
    Janet Cottrell [1992] provides some useful suggestions to  
+
Janet Cottrell [1992] provides some useful suggestions to  
    make the university computing environment more hospitable  
+
make the university computing environment more hospitable  
    towards women, such as: making sure the computing facilities  
+
towards women, such as: making sure the computing facilities  
    are physically safe; ensuring that women are well-represented  
+
are physically safe; ensuring that women are well-represented  
    in computing staff; making sure that pornographic images are  
+
in computing staff; making sure that pornographic images are  
    not allowed as background screens in labs and offices; making  
+
not allowed as background screens in labs and offices; making  
    sure that public labs are accessible for the non-aggressive  
+
sure that public labs are accessible for the non-aggressive  
    student;and providing individualized learning resources, such  
+
student;and providing individualized learning resources, such  
    as self-paced online or video training tools for students who  
+
as self-paced online or video training tools for students who  
    may feel uncomfortable in large classes.  
+
may feel uncomfortable in large classes.  
 
      
 
      
    Participation of women in networking
+
 
 +
Participation of women in networking
 
      
 
      
    As we all know, the Internet is expanding at an explosive rate.   
+
As we all know, the Internet is expanding at an explosive rate.   
    1992 statistics put the Internet as extending to over 50 countries  
+
1992 statistics put the Internet as extending to over 50 countries  
    on all seven continents, with approximately 5-10 million people  
+
on all seven continents, with approximately 5-10 million people  
    using it, and with as many as 15 million people communicating  
+
using it, and with as many as 15 million people communicating  
    between the Internet and other interconnecting networks.  
+
between the Internet and other interconnecting networks.  
    [Hart, et. al]  These figures seem conservative now.  Many  
+
[Hart, et. al]  These figures seem conservative now.  Many  
    private conferencing systems, such as the WELL, and ECHO  
+
private conferencing systems, such as the WELL, and ECHO  
    (New York City's "East Coast Hang-Out") now have  Internet  
+
(New York City's "East Coast Hang-Out") now have  Internet  
    access.  Commercial IP network connectivity  providers are  
+
access.  Commercial IP network connectivity  providers are  
    mushrooming, provided by companies such as Advanced  
+
mushrooming, provided by companies such as Advanced  
    Network and Services (ANS), CO+RE (Commercial plus  
+
Network and Services (ANS), CO+RE (Commercial plus  
    Research and Education), and the CIX (Commercial Internet  
+
Research and Education), and the CIX (Commercial Internet  
    Exchange) members--AlterNet, PSINet, CERFnet, and Sprintnet.   
+
Exchange) members--AlterNet, PSINet, CERFnet, and Sprintnet.   
    And, Free-Nets in various cities internationally  have started up  
+
And, Free-Nets in various cities internationally  have started up  
    or are in their formative stages--there are approximately 45  
+
or are in their formative stages--there are approximately 45  
    free-net organizing committees around the world.  There are at  
+
free-net organizing committees around the world.  There are at  
    least 11 free-nets in the U.S., with maybe more in the  
+
least 11 free-nets in the U.S., with maybe more in the  
    formative stages; 2 in Canada, with 8 others in the formative  
+
formative stages; 2 in Canada, with 8 others in the formative  
    stages; and 1 in New Zealand.  
+
stages; and 1 in New Zealand.  
 
      
 
      
    But does this rapidly expanding user base include an equal  
+
But does this rapidly expanding user base include an equal  
    proportion of men and women? Probably not.  The breakdown of  
+
proportion of men and women? Probably not.  The breakdown of  
    gender usage on various networks is difficult to gauge, but it is  
+
gender usage on various networks is difficult to gauge, but it is  
    safe to say that women are not very well represented on most  
+
safe to say that women are not very well represented on most  
    networks.  This low visibility is not surprising, given that women  
+
networks.  This low visibility is not surprising, given that women  
    are still under-represented in almost every aspect of computer  
+
are still under-represented in almost every aspect of computer  
    culture,  from programming,  to product design, to everyday use.  
+
culture,  from programming,  to product design, to everyday use.  
 
      
 
      
    Access to computer networking for women involves access to  
+
Access to computer networking for women involves access to  
    both the hardware and the software to support communications.  
+
both the hardware and the software to support communications.  
    Professional women who are in the academic or corporate  
+
Professional women who are in the academic or corporate  
    mainstream where Internet costs are basically "invisible" for  
+
mainstream where Internet costs are basically "invisible" for  
    them can take advantage of the Internet.  Financially-advantaged  
+
them can take advantage of the Internet.  Financially-advantaged  
    women can partake of the many private online services, such as  
+
women can partake of the many private online services, such as  
    Prodigy, Delphi, American Online, Compuserve,  ECHO, and the  
+
Prodigy, Delphi, American Online, Compuserve,  ECHO, and the  
    WELL. On-line costs average 10-20$ month, plus hourly connect  
+
WELL. On-line costs average 10-20$ month, plus hourly connect  
    fees of 2-$5/hour. However, for those women (and other people)  
+
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  
+
that can't afford networking costs--or who don't own a computer  
    and modem- the introduction of free-nets is fortuitous.
+
and modem- the introduction of free-nets is fortuitous.
 
      
 
      
    The placement of computers in public spaces, such as libraries and  
+
The placement of computers in public spaces, such as libraries and  
    various community centres, would allow those that don't own  
+
various community centres, would allow those that don't own  
    personal computers to access community networks and partake of
+
personal computers to access community networks and partake of
    local resources, and from there, telnet out into the broader Internet  
+
local resources, and from there, telnet out into the broader Internet  
    world.    The  penetration of personal computers into the average  
+
world.    The  penetration of personal computers into the average  
    household, though, isn't as high as telecom visionaries thought it  
+
household, though, isn't as high as telecom visionaries thought it  
    would be.  Free-net sponsored workshops on purchasing used or  
+
would be.  Free-net sponsored workshops on purchasing used or  
    new computers, or perhaps the donation of used or outmoded  
+
new computers, or perhaps the donation of used or outmoded  
    equipment from computer manufacturers, might be a good strategy  
+
equipment from computer manufacturers, might be a good strategy  
    for increasing domestic placement of pc's.   
+
for increasing domestic placement of pc's.   
 
      
 
      
    As well, women must have access to the training that will support  
+
As well, women must have access to the training that will support  
    such communication, and access to significant and relevant  
+
such communication, and access to significant and relevant  
    resources that can support their research or personal needs.   
+
resources that can support their research or personal needs.   
    Hands-on,  face-2-face training is an option, as well as online  
+
Hands-on,  face-2-face training is an option, as well as online  
    "navigating the net" workshops.  Novice network users--both  
+
"navigating the net" workshops.  Novice network users--both  
    men and women--often find that they are overwhelmed by the  
+
men and women--often find that they are overwhelmed by the  
    mountains of text available on the Internet. And, since  
+
mountains of text available on the Internet. And, since  
    bibliographic control of the Internet is still in the  
+
bibliographic control of the Internet is still in the  
    developmental stages, it is frequently quite difficult to become
+
developmental stages, it is frequently quite difficult to become
    familiar with the tools.   
+
familiar with the tools.   
 
      
 
      
    Fortunately, however, several tools have been developed and  
+
Fortunately, however, several tools have been developed and  
    are being improved, which can aid in accessing the Internet  
+
are being improved, which can aid in accessing the Internet  
    bounty.  These include Archie, a system for locating files
+
bounty.  These include Archie, a system for locating files
    (software programs, data, or text files) that are publically  
+
(software programs, data, or text files) that are publically  
    available via anonymous FTP; and menu-based tools such as
+
available via anonymous FTP; and menu-based tools such as
    Gopher, WAIS, Veronica, and the World-Wide Web (WWW).
+
Gopher, WAIS, Veronica, and the World-Wide Web (WWW).
 
      
 
      
    As was mentioned before, the breakdown of gender usage on  
+
As was mentioned before, the breakdown of gender usage on  
    networks is difficult to gauge, and depends on the network.  
+
networks is difficult to gauge, and depends on the network.  
    However, at the low end, women are  assumed to hover around  
+
However, at the low end, women are  assumed to hover around  
    10-15% of the audience.  For instance,  the contribution of  
+
10-15% of the audience.  For instance,  the contribution of  
    women to UseNet newsgroups is typically not very high, but   
+
women to UseNet newsgroups is typically not very high, but   
    the actual numbers are subject to debate.  In the unmoderated  
+
the actual numbers are subject to debate.  In the unmoderated  
    feminist newsgroups (alt.feminism and soc.women),  
+
feminist newsgroups (alt.feminism and soc.women),  
    approximately 80% of the messages are posted by men.  In  
+
approximately 80% of the messages are posted by men.  In  
    the moderated feminist group (soc. feminism), there is usually  
+
the moderated feminist group (soc. feminism), there is usually  
    about a 50/50 balance between women and men.   
+
about a 50/50 balance between women and men.   
 
      
 
      
    But, a  recent post to soc.women on women's participation  
+
But, a  recent post to soc.women on women's participation  
    cited two differing figures: one reader said that after wading  
+
cited two differing figures: one reader said that after wading  
    through 130 articles and deleting all those from men, she was  
+
through 130 articles and deleting all those from men, she was  
    left with only 12 posts from women.  Another reader countered  
+
left with only 12 posts from women.  Another reader countered  
    by saying that she (he?) counted more posts by women than men:  
+
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  
+
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
+
available on her node, 62 were left;  and of that number, 44 were
    from women and 18 from men (Article 58511, soc.women, Aug.  
+
from women and 18 from men (Article 58511, soc.women, Aug.  
    10, 1993).
+
10, 1993).
 
      
 
      
    SeniorNet, a consumer-oriented online service available on  
+
SeniorNet, a consumer-oriented online service available on  
    American OnLine, that caters to the "mature market",   
+
American OnLine, that caters to the "mature market",   
    reports that their audience mix is 51% female, 49% male.   
+
reports that their audience mix is 51% female, 49% male.   
    Contrast this gender-balance to other services such as CompuServe,  
+
Contrast this gender-balance to other services such as CompuServe,  
    GEnie. and Prodigy, where between 60-90% of the customers  
+
GEnie. and Prodigy, where between 60-90% of the customers  
    are male [Arlen, 6]  How is SeniorNet attracting so many women?  
+
are male [Arlen, 6]  How is SeniorNet attracting so many women?  
 
      
 
      
    Obviously, different networks will attract different audiences.   
+
Obviously, different networks will attract different audiences.   
    The WELL, from my experience there, seems to have a fairly
+
The WELL, from my experience there, seems to have a fairly
    high ratio of female WELLbeings. ECHO, (the East Coast Hang  
+
high ratio of female WELLbeings. ECHO, (the East Coast Hang  
    Out) was started by a woman, Stacey Horn.  There  females  
+
Out) was started by a woman, Stacey Horn.  There  females  
    comprise 57% of the audience, and half of the conference hosts  
+
comprise 57% of the audience, and half of the conference hosts  
    are women.  Horn actively recruits and encourages women to get  
+
are women.  Horn actively recruits and encourages women to get  
    on ECHO.  She offered the first year of ECHO free to women,  
+
on ECHO.  She offered the first year of ECHO free to women,  
    with the second year at reduced rates.  She's started  ECHO  
+
with the second year at reduced rates.  She's started  ECHO  
    School, which helps women out technically; and a Mentoring  
+
School, which helps women out technically; and a Mentoring  
    Program for women, which consists of a group of women who  
+
Program for women, which consists of a group of women who  
    have volunteered to help new women "get acclimated to  
+
have volunteered to help new women "get acclimated to  
    cyberspace" (personal correspondence, August 1, 1993).
+
cyberspace" (personal correspondence, August 1, 1993).
 
      
 
      
    And, when women participate in networks, are there gender  
+
And, when women participate in networks, are there gender  
    differences between  the way men and women talk and participate?
+
differences between  the way men and women talk and participate?
 
      
 
      
    Susan Herring at the University of Texas at Arlington analyzed  
+
Susan Herring at the University of Texas at Arlington analyzed  
    male and female participation in two academic electronic lists,  
+
male and female participation in two academic electronic lists,  
    Linguist (devoted to the discussion of linguistics-related issues) and  
+
Linguist (devoted to the discussion of linguistics-related issues) and  
    Megabyte University (MBU) (devoted to the discussion of  
+
Megabyte University (MBU) (devoted to the discussion of  
    computers and writing).  She concluded that "male and female  
+
computers and writing).  She concluded that "male and female  
    academic professionals do not participate equally in academic  
+
academic professionals do not participate equally in academic  
    CMC.  Rather, a small male minority dominates the discourse both
+
CMC.  Rather, a small male minority dominates the discourse both
    in terms of amount of talk, and rhetorically, through self-
+
in terms of amount of talk, and rhetorically, through self-
    promotional and adversarial strategies.  Moreover, when women  
+
promotional and adversarial strategies.  Moreover, when women  
    do attempt to participate on a more equal basis, they risk being  
+
do attempt to participate on a more equal basis, they risk being  
    actively censored by the reactions of men who either ignore
+
actively censored by the reactions of men who either ignore
    them or attempt to delegitimize their contributions.  Because of  
+
them or attempt to delegitimize their contributions.  Because of  
    social conditioning that makes women uncomfortable with  
+
social conditioning that makes women uncomfortable with  
    direct conflict, women tend to be more intimidated by these  
+
direct conflict, women tend to be more intimidated by these  
    practices and to avoid participating as a result....rather than being
+
practices and to avoid participating as a result....rather than being
    democratic, academic CMC is power-based and hierarchical.  This  
+
democratic, academic CMC is power-based and hierarchical.  This  
    state of affairs cannot however be attributed to the influence of  
+
state of affairs cannot however be attributed to the influence of  
    computer communication technology; rather, it continues pre-
+
computer communication technology; rather, it continues pre-
    existing patterns of hierarchy and male dominance in academia   
+
existing patterns of hierarchy and male dominance in academia   
    more generally, and in society as a whole" [Herring]
+
more generally, and in society as a whole" [Herring]
 
      
 
      
    Kathleen Michel of Miami University investigated gender
+
Kathleen Michel of Miami University investigated gender
    differences in KIDCAFE, a networking project that links children  
+
differences in KIDCAFE, a networking project that links children  
    around the world.  Michel was interested in finding out if boys  
+
around the world.  Michel was interested in finding out if boys  
    and girls talked to each other more often using CMC, and, if  
+
and girls talked to each other more often using CMC, and, if  
    the medium let them understand each other better.  In  
+
the medium let them understand each other better.  In  
    particular, she sought to apply linguist  Deborah Tannen's  
+
particular, she sought to apply linguist  Deborah Tannen's  
    theories of the gender differences in conversational styles--
+
theories of the gender differences in conversational styles--
    the "rapport" (cooperative, intimate style) versus "report"  
+
the "rapport" (cooperative, intimate style) versus "report"  
    (information giving)  styles of talk.  (Generally speaking,  
+
(information giving)  styles of talk.  (Generally speaking,  
    more women engage in the "rapport" style; more men the  
+
more women engage in the "rapport" style; more men the  
    "report" style).  She concluded that, although boys and girls
+
"report" style).  She concluded that, although boys and girls
    have different conversational patterns, the styles are not as  
+
have different conversational patterns, the styles are not as  
    discrepant as Tannen would indicate. CMC can have very  
+
discrepant as Tannen would indicate. CMC can have very  
    positive effects for school children, she observed: "By
+
positive effects for school children, she observed: "By
    linking students to other peers around the world through a  
+
linking students to other peers around the world through a  
    computer network, schools can positively effect the ways  
+
computer network, schools can positively effect the ways  
    in which male and females converse, and can open up more  
+
in which male and females converse, and can open up more  
    opportunities for cross-gender communication...on-line ,  
+
opportunities for cross-gender communication...on-line ,  
    social status and gender become less obvious differences  
+
social status and gender become less obvious differences  
    and extend the boundaries of the student's community.  
+
and extend the boundaries of the student's community.  
    A student doesn't have to break into a clique or take  
+
A student doesn't have to break into a clique or take  
    social risks in order to hold a conversation with someone  
+
social risks in order to hold a conversation with someone  
    she or he normally would not talk to". [Michel]
+
she or he normally would not talk to". [Michel]
 
      
 
      
    Social Interactions
+
 
 +
Social Interactions
 
      
 
      
    Some of you might have seen a recent Peter Steiner cartoon in  
+
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  
+
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,
+
is sitting at a computer saying to his dog-friend, "On the Internet,
    nobody knows you're a dog".
+
nobody knows you're a dog".
 
      
 
      
    Unfortunately, as many women have found  out, cyberspace is
+
Unfortunately, as many women have found  out, cyberspace is
    not a gender-free space.  One of the characteristics of computer-
+
not a gender-free space.  One of the characteristics of computer-
    mediated-communication (CMC) is its lack of easy social  
+
mediated-communication (CMC) is its lack of easy social  
    contextualization.  Kiesler at. al. have noted that CMC neutralizes  
+
contextualization.  Kiesler at. al. have noted that CMC neutralizes  
    such social status clues as appearance, voice, organizational  
+
such social status clues as appearance, voice, organizational  
    hierarchy, and often gender--this of course depends on the  
+
hierarchy, and often gender--this of course depends on the  
    handle used, mailing address, etc. Despite the relative  
+
handle used, mailing address, etc. Despite the relative  
    anonymity of CMC, though, some women report that they are  
+
anonymity of CMC, though, some women report that they are  
    often harassed and intimidated from posting and participating on
+
often harassed and intimidated from posting and participating on
    conferences or via e-mail. They often choose gender-neutral  
+
conferences or via e-mail. They often choose gender-neutral  
    handles, and prefer to post in women-only conferences or  
+
handles, and prefer to post in women-only conferences or  
    mailing lists.
+
mailing lists.
 
      
 
      
    Does the relative anonymity of the electronic medium encourage
+
Does the relative anonymity of the electronic medium encourage
    emotive behavior--flaming--and sometimes abusive language?   
+
emotive behavior--flaming--and sometimes abusive language?   
    What constitutes harassment, or sexual harassment, on the net?  
+
What constitutes harassment, or sexual harassment, on the net?  
    Is it possible to generalize about behavior on the net, or do we  
+
Is it possible to generalize about behavior on the net, or do we  
    need to consider the networking context--i.e, UseNet (its anarchy   
+
need to consider the networking context--i.e, UseNet (its anarchy   
    seems to encourage a fair amount of crankiness and  flame-fests,  
+
seems to encourage a fair amount of crankiness and  flame-fests,  
    which can contribute to both its charm and irritability), versus   
+
which can contribute to both its charm and irritability), versus   
    community-based free-nets, or  private commercial networks?  
+
community-based free-nets, or  private commercial networks?  
 
      
 
      
    Gladys We of Simon Fraser University conducted a research
+
Gladys We of Simon Fraser University conducted a research
    project into how men and women felt about communicating  
+
project into how men and women felt about communicating  
    online, versus face-2-face. She sent a questionnaire to various  
+
online, versus face-2-face. She sent a questionnaire to various  
    UseNet newsgroups and an eclectic range of mailing lists.   
+
UseNet newsgroups and an eclectic range of mailing lists.   
    She concluded that: "On the surface, it would seem that most  
+
She concluded that: "On the surface, it would seem that most  
    people feel that cyberspace tends to be friendly to women.  It   
+
people feel that cyberspace tends to be friendly to women.  It   
    allows women to adopt more active personas, and to speak  
+
allows women to adopt more active personas, and to speak  
    on a 'level-playing field' reduced of gender cues. "  Several  
+
on a 'level-playing field' reduced of gender cues. "  Several  
    respondents to Gladys' survey sent her anecdotes about meeting  
+
respondents to Gladys' survey sent her anecdotes about meeting  
    and falling in love online.  But, she also heard from others who  
+
and falling in love online.  But, she also heard from others who  
    were harassed online: "...as one man said, 'try using a woman's  
+
were harassed online: "...as one man said, 'try using a woman's  
    handle online someday and see how many 'hello's' you get as  
+
handle online someday and see how many 'hello's' you get as  
    compared to your regular handle (if you're a male, of course!)...
+
compared to your regular handle (if you're a male, of course!)...
    one woman reported, 'in response  to my postings he sent e-mail
+
one woman reported, 'in response  to my postings he sent e-mail
    calling me 'hairly legged feminazi'...and did lots of innuendos  
+
calling me 'hairly legged feminazi'...and did lots of innuendos  
    about the probable deficits in my personal life". (We)
+
about the probable deficits in my personal life". (We)
 
      
 
      
    The  issue of sexual harassment on the net is controversial.   
+
The  issue of sexual harassment on the net is controversial.   
    Many women complain that various newsgroups and networking environments
+
Many women complain that various newsgroups and networking environments
    are hostile towards women.  Net.sleazing and  
+
are hostile towards women.  Net.sleazing and  
    "trolling for babes" do exist on some networks. Harassment can  
+
"trolling for babes" do exist on some networks. Harassment can  
    take many forms, and it has occurred in both public forums and  
+
take many forms, and it has occurred in both public forums and  
    in private e-mail.  It can be subtle, such as personal questions  
+
in private e-mail.  It can be subtle, such as personal questions  
    directed to a woman; or blatant, such as women receiving sexual
+
directed to a woman; or blatant, such as women receiving sexual
    propositions via e-mail.   
+
propositions via e-mail.   
 
      
 
      
    The legal status of online harassment is murky, as case law  
+
The legal status of online harassment is murky, as case law  
    has not been established for many situations.  For instance, can   
+
has not been established for many situations.  For instance, can   
    the typical UseNet commentary be classified as harassment?   
+
the typical UseNet commentary be classified as harassment?   
    Sexual harassment guidelines could be incorporated into general  
+
Sexual harassment guidelines could be incorporated into general  
    University computing policies,  and, as Kramarae and Taylor  
+
University computing policies,  and, as Kramarae and Taylor  
    suggest, could include clarification of what constitutes offensive  
+
suggest, could include clarification of what constitutes offensive  
    messages and provide a grievance procedure for complaints of  
+
messages and provide a grievance procedure for complaints of  
    sexual harassment. [Kramarae, Taylor]  An article in _Macweek_,  
+
sexual harassment. [Kramarae, Taylor]  An article in _Macweek_,  
    a computer industry publication, suggested that company managers  
+
a computer industry publication, suggested that company managers  
    should incorporate online harassment into anti-harassment policies.  
+
should incorporate online harassment into anti-harassment policies.  
    [Erlich]
+
[Erlich]
 
      
 
      
    Education and recognition of the issues surrounding online  
+
Education and recognition of the issues surrounding online  
    harassment is a  preventative measure we can take now. Cyberion  
+
harassment is a  preventative measure we can take now. Cyberion  
    City at MIT is a MUSE-role-playing game which educates its users  
+
City at MIT is a MUSE-role-playing game which educates its users  
    by telling them: "...unwanted advances of hostile or forward nature  
+
by telling them: "...unwanted advances of hostile or forward nature  
    are unacceptable...if you think someone might be interested in  
+
are unacceptable...if you think someone might be interested in  
    developing a closer personal relationship, it is your responsibility  
+
developing a closer personal relationship, it is your responsibility  
    to make absolutely sure of this before saying or doing anything that  
+
to make absolutely sure of this before saying or doing anything that  
    would be considered inappropriate in real life...such inappropriate  
+
would be considered inappropriate in real life...such inappropriate  
    behavior includes, but is not limited to, suggestive remarks; violation  
+
behavior includes, but is not limited to, suggestive remarks; violation  
    of the other person's space; forward, intimate or suggestive conduct".  
+
of the other person's space; forward, intimate or suggestive conduct".  
    [as quoted in Truong]
+
[as quoted in Truong]
 
      
 
      
    The idea of women-only lists and conferences has been suggested
+
The idea of women-only lists and conferences has been suggested
    as a way to counteract harassment and monopolization of postings  
+
as a way to counteract harassment and monopolization of postings  
    by men.  Of course, given the relative insecurity of electronic  
+
by men.  Of course, given the relative insecurity of electronic  
    identity, and the fact that electronic personas can be easily spoofed,  
+
identity, and the fact that electronic personas can be easily spoofed,  
    such segregation is difficult to control. Several women-only  
+
such segregation is difficult to control. Several women-only  
    conferences exist, such as WOW--Women on the Well--(there is  
+
conferences exist, such as WOW--Women on the Well--(there is  
    also MOW--Men on the WELL); and  Systers, a private,  
+
also MOW--Men on the WELL); and  Systers, a private,  
    unmoderated, mailing list for female computer professionals  
+
unmoderated, mailing list for female computer professionals  
    in the commercial, academic, and government world,  as well  
+
in the commercial, academic, and government world,  as well  
    as female graduate and undergraduate computer science and  
+
as female graduate and undergraduate computer science and  
    computer engineering students. Anita Borg, the founder and  
+
computer engineering students. Anita Borg, the founder and  
    moderator of Systers, has often been asked to justify the  
+
moderator of Systers, has often been asked to justify the  
    exclusion of men from her list, particularly given that the  
+
exclusion of men from her list, particularly given that the  
    list is not limited solely to discussions of women's issues, but  
+
list is not limited solely to discussions of women's issues, but  
    deals in professional and technical concerns.  She stated the  
+
deals in professional and technical concerns.  She stated the  
    following points in her position paper for the "Gender Issues in  
+
following points in her position paper for the "Gender Issues in  
    Computers and Telecommunications" panel at the _Computers,  
+
Computers and Telecommunications" panel at the _Computers,  
    Freedom, and Privacy_ conference: Since women in computer  
+
Freedom, and Privacy_ conference: Since women in computer  
    sciences are geographically dispersed and a "frequently  
+
sciences are geographically dispersed and a "frequently  
    individually isolated minority", they rarely have the chance to  
+
individually isolated minority", they rarely have the chance to  
    interact professionally with each other.  The different  
+
interact professionally with each other.  The different  
    conversational styles of men and women prohibits an egalitarian  
+
conversational styles of men and women prohibits an egalitarian  
    nature. An all-female forum allows for mentoring for CS women.   
+
nature. An all-female forum allows for mentoring for CS women.   
    And, "the likelihood that an underpowered minority is keeping  
+
And, "the likelihood that an underpowered minority is keeping  
    otherwise inaccessible information from the large empowered
+
otherwise inaccessible information from the large empowered
    majority...seems small indeed". [Borg]
+
majority...seems small indeed". [Borg]
 
      
 
      
    Gender-swapping is a popular pastime on some network  
+
Gender-swapping is a popular pastime on some network  
    interactions. Amy  Bruckman at MIT has been conducting  
+
interactions. Amy  Bruckman at MIT has been conducting  
    research on social interactions in text-based virtual reality  
+
research on social interactions in text-based virtual reality  
    environments on the Internet called MUDS (multi-user  
+
environments on the Internet called MUDS (multi-user  
    domains).  Female MUDders (of which there are many)  
+
domains).  Female MUDders (of which there are many)  
    report that they are often "besieged with attention",
+
report that they are often "besieged with attention",
    including unwanted sexual advances. As Bruckman writes,  
+
including unwanted sexual advances. As Bruckman writes,  
    "many people, both male and female, enjoy the attention  
+
"many people, both male and female, enjoy the attention  
    paid to female characters.  Male players will often log on as  
+
paid to female characters.  Male players will often log on as  
    female characters and behave suggestively, further encouraging  
+
female characters and behave suggestively, further encouraging  
    sexual advances.  Pavel Curtis has noted that the most  
+
sexual advances.  Pavel Curtis has noted that the most  
    promiscuous and sexually aggressive women are usually  
+
promiscuous and sexually aggressive women are usually  
    played by men.  If you meet a character named Fabulous  
+
played by men.  If you meet a character named Fabulous  
    HotBabe, she is almost certainly a he in real life".  
+
HotBabe, she is almost certainly a he in real life".  
    [Bruckman, Curtis]
+
[Bruckman, Curtis]
 
      
 
      
    In 1985 Lindsy Van Gelder published her almost "classic"  
+
In 1985 Lindsy Van Gelder published her almost "classic"  
    tale  in _Ms._ magazine about the case of "Joan".  Joan" was
+
tale  in _Ms._ magazine about the case of "Joan".  Joan" was
    a disabled single older woman who appeared on  
+
a disabled single older woman who appeared on  
    Compuserve's "Between the Sexes" conference.  She  
+
Compuserve's "Between the Sexes" conference.  She  
    developed intimate relationships with other women, although  
+
developed intimate relationships with other women, although  
    never face-2-face. After several years, "Joan" was discovered to  
+
never face-2-face. After several years, "Joan" was discovered to  
    be a middle-aged male psychiatrist, "Alex". Such online  
+
be a middle-aged male psychiatrist, "Alex". Such online  
    "cross-dressing" shook up the many women and men who  
+
"cross-dressing" shook up the many women and men who  
    had "encountered" Joan throughout the years, and led many
+
had "encountered" Joan throughout the years, and led many
    to be more suspicious and wary of computerized interactions..   
+
to be more suspicious and wary of computerized interactions..   
 
      
 
      
    Pornography
+
 
 +
Pornography
 
      
 
      
    The  ethical uses of computers and computer networks is a  
+
The  ethical uses of computers and computer networks is a  
    contentious and unresolved area, both legally and socially.   
+
contentious and unresolved area, both legally and socially.   
    There are no universal standards of governance, and it seems  
+
There are no universal standards of governance, and it seems  
    unlikely and quite preposterous that such a consensus could
+
unlikely and quite preposterous that such a consensus could
    ever be  reached, given both the evolving technological
+
ever be  reached, given both the evolving technological
    infrastructure, types of various information carriers and  
+
infrastructure, types of various information carriers and  
    providers, and variety of nationalistic notions of legal  
+
providers, and variety of nationalistic notions of legal  
    jurisprudence.
+
jurisprudence.
 
      
 
      
    Sexual imagery and pornographic content on the nets is one of  
+
Sexual imagery and pornographic content on the nets is one of  
    these debatable arenas.  How, exactly, does one define computer
+
these debatable arenas.  How, exactly, does one define computer
    pornography and "offensive" material on networks?  In this  
+
pornography and "offensive" material on networks?  In this  
    last year alone many debates have surfaced within various  
+
last year alone many debates have surfaced within various  
    universities in North America and internationally as to whether  
+
universities in North America and internationally as to whether  
    or not it is appropriate to censor the alt.sex hierarchy within  
+
or not it is appropriate to censor the alt.sex hierarchy within  
    UseNet.  Where can one draw the line between freedom of  
+
UseNet.  Where can one draw the line between freedom of  
    speech and mere censorship?  Are there any links between  
+
speech and mere censorship?  Are there any links between  
    computer pornography, sexual harassment, and sexual  
+
computer pornography, sexual harassment, and sexual  
    violence? Are such "questionable" UseNet newsgroups a  
+
violence? Are such "questionable" UseNet newsgroups a  
    "proper" use of University computing facilities? Should  
+
"proper" use of University computing facilities? Should  
    community networks provide an "on-ramp" to these  
+
community networks provide an "on-ramp" to these  
    newsgroups? Should minors be allowed access to these  
+
newsgroups? Should minors be allowed access to these  
    newsgroups; or, put another way, how can you *not*  
+
newsgroups; or, put another way, how can you *not*  
    prevent minors from accessing these newsgroups?  Should  
+
prevent minors from accessing these newsgroups?  Should  
    academic institutions, or community networks "police"  
+
academic institutions, or community networks "police"  
    UseNet bulletin board postings and newsgroups based on  
+
UseNet bulletin board postings and newsgroups based on  
    content, such as sexual explicitness (which could be in  
+
content, such as sexual explicitness (which could be in  
    perceived violation of the law) without consulting the user  
+
perceived violation of the law) without consulting the user  
    community?  What kinds of mechanisms should be instituted,  
+
community?  What kinds of mechanisms should be instituted,  
    if at all, to judge the acceptability of the contents of certain  
+
if at all, to judge the acceptability of the contents of certain  
    newsgroups?  What legal rights regarding free speech and  
+
newsgroups?  What legal rights regarding free speech and  
    privacy should network users be entitled to?  
+
privacy should network users be entitled to?  
 
      
 
      
    Use of Networks By Women
+
 
 +
Use of Networks By Women
 
      
 
      
    Despite some of the hazards and irritation that some women  
+
Despite some of the hazards and irritation that some women  
    have encountered online, access to networking has also  
+
have encountered online, access to networking has also  
    encouraged a wealth of surprising uses for women.   
+
encouraged a wealth of surprising uses for women.   
    I think it's important to highlight some of the more positive  
+
I think it's important to highlight some of the more positive  
    benefits of computer networking for women, because it seems  
+
benefits of computer networking for women, because it seems  
    that any media coverage of networking tends to zoom in on  
+
that any media coverage of networking tends to zoom in on  
    the more salacious and sensationalistic aspects.
+
the more salacious and sensationalistic aspects.
 
      
 
      
    Networking has been increasingly recognized by female scholars  
+
Networking has been increasingly recognized by female scholars  
    as being a tool for feminist empowerment, and many women
+
as being a tool for feminist empowerment, and many women
    have taken to the net to create, as  Ebben and Kramarae call it,  
+
have taken to the net to create, as  Ebben and Kramarae call it,  
    "a cyberspace of our own".  There are now many UseNet
+
"a cyberspace of our own".  There are now many UseNet
    newsgroups and lists that cater to the research needs of women  
+
newsgroups and lists that cater to the research needs of women  
    scholars, from MEFEM, a list for female medievalists; to  
+
scholars, from MEFEM, a list for female medievalists; to  
    WISENET, a list for women in science and engineering; to the  
+
WISENET, a list for women in science and engineering; to the  
    South Asian Women's List; to WMST-L, the Women's  
+
South Asian Women's List; to WMST-L, the Women's  
    Studies List. [see Appendix for list of resources]   
+
Studies List. [see Appendix for list of resources]   
 
      
 
      
    Several grassroots networking projects have also benefited
+
Several grassroots networking projects have also benefited
    women. Big Sky Telegraph, a computerized BBS system   
+
women. Big Sky Telegraph, a computerized BBS system   
    in Montana, has been used to  connect together the  
+
in Montana, has been used to  connect together the  
    geographically dispersed directors of the various Montana  
+
geographically dispersed directors of the various Montana  
    Women's Centers. BST has also been used to provide  
+
Women's Centers. BST has also been used to provide  
    computer training to homebound women.  [Odasz]
+
computer training to homebound women.  [Odasz]
 
      
 
      
    Mexican women's groups--through the Institute for Global  
+
Mexican women's groups--through the Institute for Global  
    Communications (IGC) networks--have found that networking  
+
Communications (IGC) networks--have found that networking  
    has facilitated their work in fighting NAFTA. For instance,  
+
has facilitated their work in fighting NAFTA. For instance,  
    Mujer a Mujer/Woman to Woman, based in Mexico City, has
+
Mujer a Mujer/Woman to Woman, based in Mexico City, has
    found networking to be indispensable in coordinating the  
+
found networking to be indispensable in coordinating the  
    Tri-National Working Women's Conference on NAFTA, the  
+
Tri-National Working Women's Conference on NAFTA, the  
    reports of which were posted online for the entire community  
+
reports of which were posted online for the entire community  
    to read. [Frederick]
+
to read. [Frederick]
 
      
 
      
    One of the biggest challenges is widening access to the net for  
+
One of the biggest challenges is widening access to the net for  
    women that aren't institutionally affiliated, whether in industry  
+
women that aren't institutionally affiliated, whether in industry  
    or academia,  where they purportedly have "ready" access to
+
or academia,  where they purportedly have "ready" access to
    both the hardware and software, and technical expertise, to  
+
both the hardware and software, and technical expertise, to  
    successfully learn how to navigate the net.  
+
successfully learn how to navigate the net.  
 
      
 
      
    Ellen Balka of Memorial University at Newfoundland has
+
Ellen Balka of Memorial University at Newfoundland has
    written that "perhaps the greatest issue faced by the women's  
+
written that "perhaps the greatest issue faced by the women's  
    movement with respect to the adoption of computer networking
+
movement with respect to the adoption of computer networking
    technology is access...access to communication constraints imposed  
+
technology is access...access to communication constraints imposed  
    by the infrastructure of data lines and value-added  
+
by the infrastructure of data lines and value-added  
    carriers...access to the location of networks and terminals:  
+
carriers...access to the location of networks and terminals:  
    whether they are located in a public  place and available for  
+
whether they are located in a public  place and available for  
    use free of charge as Community Memory terminals were, or  
+
use free of charge as Community Memory terminals were, or  
    whether they are located in a private home or office...and  
+
whether they are located in a private home or office...and  
    access to the knowledge and related support mechanisms  
+
access to the knowledge and related support mechanisms  
    that will allow a novice user to successfully contact a  
+
that will allow a novice user to successfully contact a  
    computer network". [Balka]
+
computer network". [Balka]
 
      
 
      
    As well, it is important  to develop resources and tools that  
+
As well, it is important  to develop resources and tools that  
    address the needs of various women.  WON--the Women's  
+
address the needs of various women.  WON--the Women's  
    Online Network that is an off-shoot of ECHO, is an online  
+
Online Network that is an off-shoot of ECHO, is an online  
    advocacy and action  group for women.  It is currently being  
+
advocacy and action  group for women.  It is currently being  
    revamped, and will be sponsored by a variety of U.S. women's  
+
revamped, and will be sponsored by a variety of U.S. women's  
    groups, including Ms. , WAC, WHAM!,  and WAA.  It is  
+
groups, including Ms. , WAC, WHAM!,  and WAA.  It is  
    certainly not inconceivable that the same sort of collaboration  
+
certainly not inconceivable that the same sort of collaboration  
    could be fostered across Canada amongst various women's  
+
could be fostered across Canada amongst various women's  
    groups using community networks as the anchor.  
+
groups using community networks as the anchor.  
 
      
 
      
    Community networks are well situated to increase the  
+
Community networks are well situated to increase the  
    participation and use of networks by women.  It is difficult  
+
participation and use of networks by women.  It is difficult  
    to speak in generalities about how to do this, since such
+
to speak in generalities about how to do this, since such
    recruitment tends to be  community-specific.  Vancouver's  
+
recruitment tends to be  community-specific.  Vancouver's  
    Free-Net, for instance, has established a "Task Force for  
+
Free-Net, for instance, has established a "Task Force for  
    Equal Access",  whose role will be to approach community  
+
Equal Access",  whose role will be to approach community  
    organizations that don't have ready access to  computers and  
+
organizations that don't have ready access to  computers and  
    help them get the computers and training to get online. As well,
+
help them get the computers and training to get online. As well,
    the committee will try to get donations of computers for  
+
the committee will try to get donations of computers for  
    placement in various community centres, such as senior citizens  
+
placement in various community centres, such as senior citizens  
    centres, women's centres, etc.  
+
centres, women's centres, etc.  
 
      
 
      
    A mentoring program, such as that  set up by Stacey Horn of  
+
A mentoring program, such as that  set up by Stacey Horn of  
    ECHO, where volunteers help women get online is also a  
+
ECHO, where volunteers help women get online is also a  
    good strategy.  Perhaps "aggressiveness training" could become  
+
good strategy.  Perhaps "aggressiveness training" could become  
    one of the components here. Online navigating-the-net programs  
+
one of the components here. Online navigating-the-net programs  
    can encourage people to explore the wider world of the Internet.  
+
can encourage people to explore the wider world of the Internet.  
    Developing programs and services for children is also necessary--
+
Developing programs and services for children is also necessary--
    and a mentor program designed for young girls might, in  
+
and a mentor program designed for young girls might, in  
    particular, encourage more of them to enter the CS field.  It is  
+
particular, encourage more of them to enter the CS field.  It is  
    not unimaginable, for instance, to envision kids newsgroups,
+
not unimaginable, for instance, to envision kids newsgroups,
    such as  kids.ninjas; kids.dinosaurs, kids.yucky-parents,  
+
such as  kids.ninjas; kids.dinosaurs, kids.yucky-parents,  
    kids.knock-knock-jokes, and kids.barbie.hollywood-hair.  
+
kids.knock-knock-jokes, and kids.barbie.hollywood-hair.  
 
      
 
      
    This forthcoming November, CRIAW (the Canadian Research  
+
This forthcoming November, CRIAW (the Canadian Research  
    Institute for the Advancement of Women) will publish a  
+
Institute for the Advancement of Women) will publish a  
    handbook written by Ellen Balka on community networking for  
+
handbook written by Ellen Balka on community networking for  
    women.  Chapters will be devoted to networking history, women's
+
women.  Chapters will be devoted to networking history, women's
    use of nets,  access issues,  design, and  organizational needs.   
+
use of nets,  access issues,  design, and  organizational needs.   
 
      
 
      
    In a  recent article in _Technology Review_, Langdon Winner  
+
In a  recent article in _Technology Review_, Langdon Winner  
    quotes Richard Civille, director of the Washington office of the  
+
quotes Richard Civille, director of the Washington office of the  
    Center for Civic Networking. Civille suggests "earmarking 1  
+
Center for Civic Networking. Civille suggests "earmarking 1  
    percent of the $350-million a year that President Clinton wants to  
+
percent of the $350-million a year that President Clinton wants to  
    spend on 'community development banks' for building civic  
+
spend on 'community development banks' for building civic  
    networks.  The Census Bureau could survey the nation's computer  
+
networks.  The Census Bureau could survey the nation's computer  
    owners to see how they use online services.  Some fraction of the  
+
owners to see how they use online services.  Some fraction of the  
    federal budget for an information infrastructure could go to study
+
federal budget for an information infrastructure could go to study
    information equity--just as the Human Genome Project sets  
+
information equity--just as the Human Genome Project sets  
    aside 5% of its appropriation to explore ethical issues". [Winner]  
+
aside 5% of its appropriation to explore ethical issues". [Winner]  
 
      
 
      
    A similar strategy could apply to CANARIE, the Canadian  
+
A similar strategy could apply to CANARIE, the Canadian  
    Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry, and  
+
Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry, and  
    Education, given the government's recent commitment to  
+
Education, given the government's recent commitment to  
    invest $26-million for the first phase of the project. With the
+
invest $26-million for the first phase of the project. With the
    increasingly  swift commercialization of the Internet (a recent  
+
increasingly  swift commercialization of the Internet (a recent  
    news blurb reported that more than 54 Internet trademarks were  
+
news blurb reported that more than 54 Internet trademarks were  
    pending at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office--see _The  
+
pending at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office--see _The  
    Internet Letter_)  it is vital that information equity be a paramount  
+
Internet Letter_)  it is vital that information equity be a paramount  
    policy consideration, and it seems that community networks will be
+
policy consideration, and it seems that community networks will be
    one of the venues for fostering this.   
+
one of the venues for fostering this.   
 
      
 
      
    Conclusion
+
 
 +
Conclusion
 
      
 
      
    As Gladys We and I wrote, "the new 'electronic frontier' is
+
As Gladys We and I wrote, "the new 'electronic frontier' is
    unfortunately still a very masculine dominated space, one in  
+
unfortunately still a very masculine dominated space, one in  
    which many women may feel uncomfortable at the best of times.   
+
which many women may feel uncomfortable at the best of times.   
    Ensuring equitable gender access to the Internet should be a  
+
Ensuring equitable gender access to the Internet should be a  
    prerogative of this information age.  This means that we must  
+
prerogative of this information age.  This means that we must  
    pay close attention to the metaphors that people will use and  
+
pay close attention to the metaphors that people will use and  
    see in this new world, so that they won't exclude women, or  
+
see in this new world, so that they won't exclude women, or  
    include them in undesirable ways.  It means making the Internet  
+
include them in undesirable ways.  It means making the Internet  
    easily accessible to all people; making networking an attractive
+
easily accessible to all people; making networking an attractive
    communications tool for women, by creating tangible and viable  
+
communications tool for women, by creating tangible and viable  
    information and resources; and by encouraging young girls and
+
information and resources; and by encouraging young girls and
    women to become involved in the development and deployment
+
women to become involved in the development and deployment
    of the technology.  It also means creating a friendly online  
+
of the technology.  It also means creating a friendly online  
    environment, one that allows women to speak their thoughts  
+
environment, one that allows women to speak their thoughts  
    without having to hide their gender.  The world of cyberspace is  
+
without having to hide their gender.  The world of cyberspace is  
    one which is being shaped daily by the millions of interactions on  
+
one which is being shaped daily by the millions of interactions on  
    it, and women can contribute much to these exchanges."  
+
it, and women can contribute much to these exchanges."  
    [Shade, We].
+
[Shade, We].
 
                
 
                
 
      
 
      
    References
+
References
 
      
 
      
    [Arlen]  Arlen, Gary (1991).  "SeniorNet Services: toward a new  
+
[Arlen]  Arlen, Gary (1991).  "SeniorNet Services: toward a new  
    electronic environment for seniors".  Report of a conference held  
+
electronic environment for seniors".  Report of a conference held  
    by The Aspen Institute's Communications and Society Program in Queenstown.
+
by The Aspen Institute's Communications and Society Program in Queenstown.
    MD, April 8-10, 1991.  
+
MD, April 8-10, 1991.  
 
      
 
      
    [Balka]  Balka, Ellen. (1993, February).  "Women's access to  
+
[Balka]  Balka, Ellen. (1993, February).  "Women's access to  
    on-line discussions about feminism".  _Electronic Journal of
+
on-line discussions about feminism".  _Electronic Journal of
    Communications/La revue electronique de communication_ v.3,  
+
Communications/La revue electronique de communication_ v.3,  
    n.1.  {to retrieve file send command: send balka v3n193 to
+
n.1.  {to retrieve file send command: send balka v3n193 to
+
    (Internet)  
+
(Internet)  
 
      
 
      
    [Borg]  Borg, Anita.  (1993).  "The rationale for a closed electronic
+
[Borg]  Borg, Anita.  (1993).  "The rationale for a closed electronic
    forum". Position paper for "Gender Issues in Computers and
+
forum". Position paper for "Gender Issues in Computers and
    Telecommunications" panel delivered to  _Third Conference on  
+
Telecommunications" panel delivered to  _Third Conference on  
    Computers, Freedom, and Privacy_,  Burlingame, CA, March 1993.
+
Computers, Freedom, and Privacy_,  Burlingame, CA, March 1993.
 
      
 
      
    [Bruckman]  Bruckman, Amy.  (1993).  "Gender swapping on the  
+
[Bruckman]  Bruckman, Amy.  (1993).  "Gender swapping on the  
    Internet".  [available via anonymous FTP from media.mit.edu in
+
Internet".  [available via anonymous FTP from media.mit.edu in
    pub/MediaMOO/Papers:gender swapping.{ps,rtf,Bin}]
+
pub/MediaMOO/Papers:gender swapping.{ps,rtf,Bin}]
 
      
 
      
    [Cadigan] Cadigan, Pat.  (1991). _Synners_ .  N.Y.: Bantam Books.  
+
[Cadigan] Cadigan, Pat.  (1991). _Synners_ .  N.Y.: Bantam Books.  
 
      
 
      
    [Cottrell] Cottrell, Janet.( 1992). "I'm a Stranger here Myself:  
+
[Cottrell] Cottrell, Janet.( 1992). "I'm a Stranger here Myself:  
    A consideration of women in computing." In _Learning From
+
A consideration of women in computing." In _Learning From
    the Past, Stepping into the Future_, the Proceedings of the 1992  
+
the Past, Stepping into the Future_, the Proceedings of the 1992  
    ACM SIGUCCS User Services Conference, November 8-11,1992, Cleveland, OH.
+
ACM SIGUCCS User Services Conference, November 8-11,1992, Cleveland, OH.
    New York: The Association for Computing  
+
New York: The Association for Computing  
    Machinery. pp. 71-76.
+
Machinery. pp. 71-76.
 
      
 
      
    [Curtis]  [Curtis, Pavel. (1992). "MUDding: social phenomena in
+
[Curtis]  [Curtis, Pavel. (1992). "MUDding: social phenomena in
    text-based virtual realities". Proceedings of DIAC 92. [Available  
+
text-based virtual realities". Proceedings of DIAC 92. [Available  
    via anonymous FTP from parcftp.xerox.comj in
+
via anonymous FTP from parcftp.xerox.comj in
    pub/MOO/papers/DIAC92 {ps,txt}].
+
pub/MOO/papers/DIAC92 {ps,txt}].
 
      
 
      
    [Ebben, Kramarae] Ebben,  Maureen; Kramarae, Cheris.  (1993).  
+
[Ebben, Kramarae] Ebben,  Maureen; Kramarae, Cheris.  (1993).  
    "Women and Information technologies: creating a cyberspace of  
+
"Women and Information technologies: creating a cyberspace of  
    our own", pp.15-27 in  _Women, Information Technology, &  
+
our own", pp.15-27 in  _Women, Information Technology, &  
    Scholarship_, ed. Taylor, Kramarae, Ebben. Urbana, Il: WITS  
+
Scholarship_, ed. Taylor, Kramarae, Ebben. Urbana, Il: WITS  
    Colloquium. Center for Advanced Study.
+
Colloquium. Center for Advanced Study.
 
      
 
      
    [Electronic Salon] Electronic Salon papers are available via  
+
[Electronic Salon] Electronic Salon papers are available via  
    anonymous FTP at lclark.edu in gender directory]
+
anonymous FTP at lclark.edu in gender directory]
 
      
 
      
    [Erlich]  Erlich, Reese, (1992, December 14) "Sexual harassment  
+
[Erlich]  Erlich, Reese, (1992, December 14) "Sexual harassment  
    an issue on the online frontier". _MacWeek_:20-21.
+
an issue on the online frontier". _MacWeek_:20-21.
 
      
 
      
    [Frederick] Frederick, Howard H. (1993, March). _North American  
+
[Frederick] Frederick, Howard H. (1993, March). _North American  
    NGO Computer Networking on Trade and Immigration:  Computer Communications
+
NGO Computer Networking on Trade and Immigration:  Computer Communications
    in Cross-Border Coalition Building_.   
+
in Cross-Border Coalition Building_.   
    DRU-234-FF (draft), RAND, Santa Monica, California.   
+
DRU-234-FF (draft), RAND, Santa Monica, California.   
 
      
 
      
    [Frenkel] Frenkel, Karen A. 1990. "Women & Computing". Communications of
+
[Frenkel] Frenkel, Karen A. 1990. "Women & Computing". Communications of
    the ACM _33(11): 34-46.  
+
the ACM _33(11): 34-46.  
 
      
 
      
    [Hart, et.al.]  Hart, Jeffrey A., Robert R. Reed, and Francois  
+
[Hart, et.al.]  Hart, Jeffrey A., Robert R. Reed, and Francois  
    Bar.  (1992, November).  "The building of the Internet:
+
Bar.  (1992, November).  "The building of the Internet:
    implications for the future of broadband networks".  
+
implications for the future of broadband networks".  
    Telecommunications Policy_:666-689.
+
Telecommunications Policy_:666-689.
 
      
 
      
    [Herring]  Herring, Susan C. (1993).  "Gender and democracy  
+
[Herring]  Herring, Susan C. (1993).  "Gender and democracy  
    in computer-mediated communication".  _Electronic Journal of
+
in computer-mediated communication".  _Electronic Journal of
    Communication_, v.3, n.2.
+
Communication_, v.3, n.2.
 
      
 
      
    [Internet Letter ]  "Companies rush to secure Internet trademarks".  
+
[Internet Letter ]  "Companies rush to secure Internet trademarks".  
    (1993, October). _The Internet Letter_, v.1, n.1.  {A Net Week  
+
(1993, October). _The Internet Letter_, v.1, n.1.  {A Net Week  
    Inc. publication}
+
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;
 +
also in _Computerization and Controversy: value conflicts and
 +
social choices_, ed. Charles Dunlop and Rob Kling. Academic
 +
Press, 1991: 330-349.
 
      
 
      
    [Kiesler, et.al.] Kiesler, Sara; Siegel, J.; McGuire, T.W. (1984).  
+
[Kramarae, Taylor] Kramarae, Cheris; H. Jeanie Taylor. (1993).  
    "Social psychological aspects of computer-mediated
+
"Women and men on electronic networks: a conversation or a
    communication". _American Psychologist_ v.39: 1123-1134;
+
monologue?", p. 52-61 in _Women, Information Technology,
    also in _Computerization and Controversy: value conflicts and
+
& Scholarship_. Urbana, Illinois: Center for Advanced Study,
    social choices_, ed. Charles Dunlop and Rob Kling. Academic
+
Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
    Press, 1991: 330-349.
 
 
      
 
      
    [Kramarae, Taylor] Kramarae, Cheris; H. Jeanie Taylor. (1993).  
+
[Langberg] Langberg, Mike. (1993, May 25). "Sega plans first
    "Women and men on electronic networks: a conversation or a
+
video-game rating system". _San Jose Mercury News_.
    monologue?", p. 52-61 in _Women, Information Technology,
 
    & Scholarship_. Urbana, Illinois: Center for Advanced Study,
 
    Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
 
 
      
 
      
    [Langberg] Langberg, Mike. (1993, May 25). "Sega plans first
+
[Michel] Michel, Kathleen. (1992). "Gender differences in
    video-game rating system". _San Jose Mercury News_.
+
computer-mediated conversations". [available via KIDLINK]
 
      
 
      
    [Michel] Michel, Kathleen. (1992).  "Gender differences in
+
[Odasz] Odasz, Frank. (1991, Summer).  "Big Sky Telegraph",
    computer-mediated conversations". [available via KIDLINK]
+
_Whole Earth Review_: 32-35.
 
      
 
      
    [Odasz] Odasz, Frank. (1991, Summer).  "Big Sky Telegraph",  
+
[Spertus] Spertus, Ellen. "Why are There so Few Female
    _Whole Earth Review_: 32-35.
+
Computer Scientists?" Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at
 +
MIT, 1991. [available via anonymous FTP from ftp.ai.mit.edu
 +
in pub/ellens/mget womcs*.ps]
 
      
 
      
    [Spertus] Spertus, Ellen. "Why are There so Few Female
+
[Shade, We] Shade, Leslie Regan; Gladys We. (1993). "Gender
    Computer Scientists?" Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at
+
issues and networking" Forthcoming in _The Internet Business
    MIT, 1991. [available via anonymous FTP from ftp.ai.mit.edu
+
Journal_.  
    in pub/ellens/mget womcs*.ps]
 
 
      
 
      
    [Shade, WeShade, Leslie Regan; Gladys We. (1993). "Gender
+
[StephensonStephenson, Neal. (1992). _Snow Crash_.  N.Y.:
    issues and networking" Forthcoming in _The Internet Business
+
Bantam Books.
    Journal_.  
 
 
      
 
      
    [Stephenson] Stephenson, Neal. (1992).  _Snow Crash_. N.Y.:  
+
[Sterling] Sterling, Bruce. (1988).  _Islands in the Net_. N.Y.:  
    Bantam Books.
+
Ace Books.
 
      
 
      
    [Sterling] Sterling, Bruce. (1988).  _Islands in the Net_. N.Y.:  
+
[Tannen] Tannen, Deborah. (1990).  _You Just Don't
    Ace Books.
+
Understand_. N.Y.:Ballantine.
 
      
 
      
    [Tannen] Tannen, Deborah. (1990).  _You Just Don't
+
[Truong] Truong, Hoai-An. (1993, March). "Gender Issues
    Understand_. N.Y.:Ballantine.
+
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]
 
      
 
      
    [Truong] Truong, Hoai-An. (1993, March). "Gender Issues
+
[U.S.A. Today] _U.S.A. Today_ (1993, August 6). "High
    in Online Communication". Paper Presented at _Third
+
Tech Harassment": B1.
    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
+
[Van Gelder] Van Gelder, Lindsy. (1991). "The strange case
    Tech Harassment": B1.
+
of the electronic lover", in _Computerization and Controversy:
 +
value conflicts and social choices_, ed. Charles Dunlop and
 +
Rob Kling. Academic Press: 364-375.
 
      
 
      
    [Van Gelder] Van Gelder, Lindsy. (1991)"The strange case
+
[We] We, Gladys. (1993) "Cross-gender communication in
    of the electronic lover", in _Computerization and Controversy:
+
cyberspace". Unpublished ms., Simon Fraser University.
    value conflicts and social choices_, ed. Charles Dunlop and
+
[avail.. [email protected].ca]
    Rob Kling. Academic Press: 364-375.
 
 
      
 
      
    [WeWe, Gladys.  (1993) "Cross-gender communication in
+
[WinnerWinner, Langdon.  (1993, August/September). "Beyond
    cyberspace". Unpublished ms., Simon Fraser University.
+
Inter-Passive Media". _Technology Review_ : 69.
    [avail.. [email protected]]
 
 
      
 
      
    [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
    APPENDIX: CONFERENCES AND LISTS
+
provide a safe space primarily for bisexual women. 
 +
Subscription requests: [email protected]
 +
(Bitnet) or [email protected] (Internet). 
 
      
 
      
    BIFEM-L: moderated list for women only. Its purpose is to
+
ECHO: East Coast Hang Out.  
    provide a safe space primarily for bisexual women. 
+
Subscription requests: HORN@ECHONYC.COM
    Subscription requests: [email protected]
 
    (Bitnet) or LISTSERV@BROWNVM.BROWN.EDU (Internet).
 
 
      
 
      
    ECHO: East Coast Hang Out.  
+
EDUCOM-W: Moderated list for issues of technology and education that
    Subscription requests: HORN@ECHONYC.COM
+
are of interest to women.
 +
Subscription requests: LISTSERV@BITNIC (Bitnet), or
 +
[email protected] (Internet).
 
      
 
      
    EDUCOM-W: Moderated list for issues of technology and education that
+
FEMAIL: For feminists around the world. Open to both men and  
    are of interest to women.
+
women.
    Subscription requests: [email protected] (Bitnet), or
+
Subscription requests to:
    [email protected] (Internet).
+
[email protected] (Internet).
   
 
   
 
    FEMAIL: For feminists around the world. Open to both men and  
 
    women.
 
    Subscription requests to:
 
    [email protected] (Internet).
 
 
          
 
          
    FEMECON-L: List for feminist economists.  
+
FEMECON-L: List for feminist economists.  
    Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet).  
+
Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet).  
   
 
    FEMINISM-DIGEST:  Digest form of soc.feminism available via
 
    email.
 
    Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet) or
 
    FEMINISM-DIGEST%[email protected] (Bitnet). 
 
 
      
 
      
    FEMINIST( owned by the Feminist Task Force of the American
+
FEMINISM-DIGEST:  Digest form of soc.feminism available via
    Library Association).   Issues including sexism in libraries and
+
email.  
    librarianship; pornography and censorship in libraries, and racism
+
Subscription requests: FEMINISM-DIGEST@NCAR.UCAR.EDU (Internet) or
    and  ethnic diversity in librarianship.
+
FEMINISM-DIGEST%NCAR.UCAR.EDU@NCARIO (Bitnet).
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@MITVMA (Bitnet) or [email protected].MIT.EDU
 
    (Internet).
 
 
      
 
      
    FEMISA: Discussion list re:  feminism, gender, women and  
+
FEMINIST( owned by the Feminist Task Force of the American
    international relations.
+
Library Association).  Issues including sexism in libraries and
    Subscription requests: [email protected]CSF.COLORADO.EDU  
+
librarianship; pornography and censorship in libraries, and racism
    (Internet).
+
and  ethnic diversity in librarianship.
 +
Subscription requests: [email protected]MITVMA (Bitnet) or [email protected].MIT.EDU
 +
(Internet).
 
      
 
      
    FEMREL-L : Women and religion and feminist theology.  
+
FEMISA: Discussion list re:  feminism, gender, women and  
    Subscription requests: [email protected]MIZZOU1 (Bitnet).
+
international relations.
 +
Subscription requests: [email protected]CSF.COLORADO.EDU
 +
(Internet).
 
      
 
      
    FIST (Feminism in/and Science and Technology): Unmoderated 
+
FEMREL-L : Women and religion and feminist theology.  
    list for discussion of feminism and science and technology.
+
Subscription requests: [email protected]MIZZOU1 (Bitnet).
    Subscription requests: [email protected]DAWN.HAMPSHIRE.EDU
 
    (Internet).
 
 
      
 
      
    GAYNET:  list focusing on gay and lesbian concerns on college 
+
FIST (Feminism in/and Science and Technology): Unmoderated  
    campuses.   
+
list for discussion of feminism and science and technology.   
    Subscription messages should be sent to
+
Subscription requests: LISTSERV@DAWN.HAMPSHIRE.EDU  
    GAYNET-REQUEST@ATHENA.MIT.EDU (Internet).
+
(Internet).
 
      
 
      
 +
GAYNET:  list focusing on gay and lesbian concerns on college 
 +
campuses. 
 +
Subscription messages should be sent to
 +
[email protected] (Internet).
 
      
 
      
    GENDER: Moderated list devoted to issues re: gender and  
+
GENDER: Moderated list devoted to issues re: gender and  
    communication.
+
communication.
    Subscription requests to:  [email protected] (Bitnet) or
+
Subscription requests to:  [email protected] (Bitnet) or
    [email protected].RPI.EDU (Internet).
+
[email protected] (Internet).
 
      
 
      
    GEGSTAFF: Discussion of sexuality and gender in geography,
+
GEGSTAFF: Discussion of sexuality and gender in geography,
    Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet)
+
Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet)
+
 
          
 
          
    GLB-NEWS: "read-only depository of information for gay,
+
GLB-NEWS: "read-only depository of information for gay,
    lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, and sympathetic
+
lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, and sympathetic
    persons."
+
persons."
    Subscription requests:  [email protected] (Bitnet) or
+
Subscription requests:  [email protected] (Bitnet) or
    [email protected] (Internet).
+
[email protected] (Internet).
 
      
 
      
    GEOGFEM: Gender issues in geography.  
+
GEOGFEM: Gender issues in geography.  
    Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet) or [email protected]
+
Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet) or [email protected]
 
      
 
      
    HELWA-LL List for Malaysian women in the U.S. and Canada.  
+
HELWA-LL List for Malaysian women in the U.S. and Canada.  
    Subscription requests: [email protected] (Bitnet).
+
Subscription requests: [email protected] (Bitnet).
 
      
 
      
    KOL-ISHA:  Moderated list for halachic questions and issues  
+
KOL-ISHA:  Moderated list for halachic questions and issues  
    concerning women's roles in Judaism.  
+
concerning women's roles in Judaism.  
    Subscription requests: [email protected]  
+
Subscription requests: [email protected]  
    (Internet).
+
(Internet).
 
      
 
      
    LIS:  Lesbians in Science and is a list for lesbians in industry,  
+
LIS:  Lesbians in Science and is a list for lesbians in industry,  
    universities, government labs, etc.   
+
universities, government labs, etc.   
    Subscription requests: [email protected]; send postings to
+
Subscription requests: [email protected]; send postings to
+
 
      
 
      
    MAIL-MEN: forum for discussion of men's issues.
+
MAIL-MEN: forum for discussion of men's issues.
    Subscription requests: [email protected]  
+
Subscription requests: [email protected]  
    (Internet).
+
(Internet).
 
      
 
      
    MEDFEM-L:  List for feminist medievalists.  
+
MEDFEM-L:  List for feminist medievalists.  
    Subscription requests to:[email protected] (Bitnet) or
+
Subscription requests to:[email protected] (Bitnet) or
    [email protected] (Internet).
+
[email protected] (Internet).
 
      
 
      
    NOGLSTP: The National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists
+
NOGLSTP: The National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists
    and Technical Professionals.   
+
and Technical Professionals.   
    Subscription requests to  
+
Subscription requests to  
+
 
          
 
          
    PRO-FEMINIST MEN'S ISSUES MAILING LIST: for both men
+
PRO-FEMINIST MEN'S ISSUES MAILING LIST: for both men
    and women.  
+
and women.  
    Subscription requests: [email protected].EDU (Internet).
+
Subscription requests: [email protected] (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 [email protected].EDU (Internet).
 
 
      
 
      
    SASH (Sociologists Against Sexual Harassment)Moderated list
+
SAPPHOforum and support group for gay and bisexual women.
    focusing on sexual harassment.  
+
Membership is open to all women and is limited to women.
    Subscription requests: Phoebe M. Stambaugh, [email protected] (Bitnet) or
+
Subscription requests: contact SAPPHO-REQUEST@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU (Internet).
    AZPXS@ASUVM.INRE.ASU.EDU(Internet).
 
 
      
 
      
    SOUTH ASIAN WOMEN'S NET: Discussion group for women
+
SASH (Sociologists Against Sexual Harassment): Moderated list
    from the south asian countries re concerns of south asian women.
+
focusing on sexual harassment.  
    Women only.
+
Subscription requests: Phoebe M. Stambaugh, [email protected] (Bitnet) or
    Subscription requests: USUBRAMA@MAGNUS.ACS.OHIO-STATE.EDU or to
+
AZPXS@ASUVM.INRE.ASU.EDU(Internet).
 
 
      
 
      
    SSSSTALK: List for professional  researchers, clinicians, educators,
+
SOUTH ASIAN WOMEN'S NET: Discussion group for women
    and students in the field of sexuality.
+
from the south asian countries re concerns of south asian women.
    Subscription requests: LISTSERV@TAMVM1 (Bitnet) or
+
Women only.
    LISTSERV@TAMVM1.TAMU.EDU (Internet).
+
Subscription requests: USUBRAMA@MAGNUS.ACS.OHIO-STATE.EDU or to
 +
SUSANC@HELIX.NIH.GOV
 
      
 
      
    STOPRAPE: Sexual assault activist list.
+
SSSSTALK: List for professional  researchers, clinicians, educators,
    Subscription requests: [email protected]BROWNVM (Bitnet) or
+
and students in the field of sexuality.
    [email protected]BROWNVM.BROWN.EDU (Internet).
+
Subscription requests: [email protected]TAMVM1 (Bitnet) or
 +
[email protected]TAMVM1.TAMU.EDU (Internet).
 
      
 
      
    SWIP-LSociety for Women in Philosophy.
+
STOPRAPE: Sexual assault activist list.  
    Subscription requests:[email protected]CFRVM (Bitnet) or
+
Subscription requests: [email protected]BROWNVM (Bitnet) or
    [email protected]CFRVM.CFR.USF.EDU (Internet).
+
[email protected]BROWNVM.BROWN.EDU (Internet).
 
      
 
      
 +
SWIP-L:  Society for Women in Philosophy.
 +
Subscription requests:[email protected] (Bitnet) or
 +
[email protected] (Internet).
 
      
 
      
    SYSTERS:  For professional women only  in computer science.
+
SYSTERS:  For professional women only  in computer science.
    Subscription requests: Anita Borg at [email protected]
+
Subscription requests: Anita Borg at [email protected]
    Please put "addsyster" in the subject field of the message.
+
Please put "addsyster" in the subject field of the message.
 
      
 
      
    WIML-L (Women's Issues in Music Librarianship).  
+
WIML-L (Women's Issues in Music Librarianship).  
    Subscription requests:  Laura Gayle Green, [email protected] (Bitnet).   
+
Subscription requests:  Laura Gayle Green, [email protected] (Bitnet).   
 
      
 
      
    WIPHYS:  Moderated list for issues of concern to women in
+
WIPHYS:  Moderated list for issues of concern to women in
    physics.   
+
physics.   
    Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet).
+
Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet).
 
          
 
          
    WIRE: Women;s Information Retrieval and Exchange
+
WIRE: Women;s Information Retrieval and Exchange
    Nancy Rhine ([email protected])
+
Nancy Rhine ([email protected])
    Forthcoming: "a new online communication service offering fast-
+
Forthcoming: "a new online communication service offering fast-
    breaking news stories and lively conversations on the issues
+
breaking news stories and lively conversations on the issues
    impacting women's lives today. Includes databases on topics such  
+
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."
    financial tips. and professional and political women's organizations."
 
 
      
 
      
    WISENET:  List for women in science, mathematics,and engineering.   
+
WISENET:  List for women in science, mathematics,and engineering.   
    Subscription requests: [email protected] (Bitnet) or
+
Subscription requests: [email protected] (Bitnet) or
    [email protected] (Internet).
+
[email protected] (Internet).
 
      
 
      
    WMN-HLTH:  Women's Health Electronic News Line,  started by the
+
WMN-HLTH:  Women's Health Electronic News Line,  started by the
    Center for Women's Health Research.   
+
Center for Women's Health Research.   
    Subscription requests: [email protected] (Bitnet) or
+
Subscription requests: [email protected] (Bitnet) or
    [email protected] (Internet).
+
[email protected] (Internet).
 
      
 
      
    WMST-L: Forum for women's studies academics.  
+
WMST-L: Forum for women's studies academics.  
    Subscription requests:[email protected] (Internet), or [email protected]
+
Subscription requests:[email protected] (Internet), or [email protected]
 
      
 
      
    WOMEN: general purpose list for women and women's groups.  
+
WOMEN: general purpose list for women and women's groups.  
    Subscription request: [email protected]  
+
Subscription request: [email protected]  
    (Internet)
+
(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
 +
 +
(Internet);  phone: (212) 255-3839.
 
      
 
      
    WON, the Women's Online Network:  Electronic political group for 
+
WOW, Women on the Well.  Women-only.
    women.whose aim is to distribute information and aid in political
+
Subscription requests: well.sf.ca.us. vice: 415-332-4335
    action. 
+
 
    Subscription request and info: contact the co-founders at
 
 
    (Internet);  phone: (212) 255-3839.
 
   
 
    WOW, Women on the Well.  Women-only.
 
    Subscription requests: well.sf.ca.us. vice: 415-332-4335
 
</pre>
 
  
 
[[Category:Essays]]
 
[[Category:Essays]]

Latest revision as of 16:41, 23 December 2020

Gender Issues in Computer Networking

   Leslie Regan Shade
   McGill University
   Graduate Program in Communications
   [email protected]
   [email protected]
   [email protected]
   
   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

[Arlen] Arlen, Gary (1991). "SeniorNet Services: toward a new electronic environment for seniors". Report of a conference held by The Aspen Institute's Communications and Society Program in Queenstown. MD, April 8-10, 1991.

[Balka] Balka, Ellen. (1993, February). "Women's access to on-line discussions about feminism". _Electronic Journal of Communications/La revue electronique de communication_ v.3, n.1. {to retrieve file send command: send balka v3n193 to [email protected] (bitnet) or [email protected] (Internet)

[Borg] Borg, Anita. (1993). "The rationale for a closed electronic forum". Position paper for "Gender Issues in Computers and Telecommunications" panel delivered to _Third Conference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy_, Burlingame, CA, March 1993.

[Bruckman] Bruckman, Amy. (1993). "Gender swapping on the Internet". [available via anonymous FTP from media.mit.edu in pub/MediaMOO/Papers:gender swapping.{ps,rtf,Bin}]

[Cadigan] Cadigan, Pat. (1991). _Synners_ . N.Y.: Bantam Books.

[Cottrell] Cottrell, Janet.( 1992). "I'm a Stranger here Myself: A consideration of women in computing." In _Learning From the Past, Stepping into the Future_, the Proceedings of the 1992 ACM SIGUCCS User Services Conference, November 8-11,1992, Cleveland, OH. New York: The Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 71-76.

[Curtis] [Curtis, Pavel. (1992). "MUDding: social phenomena in text-based virtual realities". Proceedings of DIAC 92. [Available via anonymous FTP from parcftp.xerox.comj in pub/MOO/papers/DIAC92 {ps,txt}].

[Ebben, Kramarae] Ebben, Maureen; Kramarae, Cheris. (1993). "Women and Information technologies: creating a cyberspace of 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 anonymous FTP at lclark.edu in gender directory]

[Erlich] Erlich, Reese, (1992, December 14) "Sexual harassment an issue on the online frontier". _MacWeek_:20-21.

[Frederick] Frederick, Howard H. (1993, March). _North American NGO Computer Networking on Trade and Immigration: Computer Communications in Cross-Border Coalition Building_. DRU-234-FF (draft), RAND, Santa Monica, California.

[Frenkel] Frenkel, Karen A. 1990. "Women & Computing". Communications of the ACM _33(11): 34-46.

[Hart, et.al.] Hart, Jeffrey A., Robert R. Reed, and Francois Bar. (1992, November). "The building of the Internet: implications for the future of broadband networks". 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; also in _Computerization and Controversy: value conflicts and social choices_, ed. Charles Dunlop and Rob Kling. Academic Press, 1991: 330-349.

[Kramarae, Taylor] Kramarae, Cheris; H. Jeanie Taylor. (1993). "Women and men on electronic networks: a conversation or a monologue?", p. 52-61 in _Women, Information Technology, & 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 computer-mediated conversations". [available via KIDLINK]

[Odasz] Odasz, Frank. (1991, Summer). "Big Sky Telegraph", _Whole Earth Review_: 32-35.

[Spertus] Spertus, Ellen. "Why are There so Few Female Computer Scientists?" Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at 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 issues and networking" Forthcoming in _The Internet Business Journal_.

[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 Understand_. N.Y.:Ballantine.

[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. [avail.. [email protected]]

[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: [email protected] (Bitnet) or [email protected] (Internet).

ECHO: East Coast Hang Out. Subscription requests: [email protected]

EDUCOM-W: Moderated list for issues of technology and education that are of interest to women. Subscription requests: [email protected] (Bitnet), or [email protected] (Internet).

FEMAIL: For feminists around the world. Open to both men and women. Subscription requests to: [email protected] (Internet).

FEMECON-L: List for feminist economists. Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet).

FEMINISM-DIGEST: Digest form of soc.feminism available via email. Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet) or FEMINISM-DIGEST%[email protected] (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: [email protected] (Bitnet) or [email protected] (Internet).

FEMISA: Discussion list re: feminism, gender, women and international relations. Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet).

FEMREL-L : Women and religion and feminist theology. Subscription requests: [email protected] (Bitnet).

FIST (Feminism in/and Science and Technology): Unmoderated list for discussion of feminism and science and technology. Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet).

GAYNET: list focusing on gay and lesbian concerns on college campuses. Subscription messages should be sent to [email protected] (Internet).

GENDER: Moderated list devoted to issues re: gender and communication. Subscription requests to: [email protected] (Bitnet) or [email protected] (Internet).

GEGSTAFF: Discussion of sexuality and gender in geography, Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet) or [email protected]

GLB-NEWS: "read-only depository of information for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, and sympathetic persons." Subscription requests: [email protected] (Bitnet) or [email protected] (Internet).

GEOGFEM: Gender issues in geography. Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet) or [email protected]

HELWA-LL List for Malaysian women in the U.S. and Canada. Subscription requests: [email protected] (Bitnet).

KOL-ISHA: Moderated list for halachic questions and issues concerning women's roles in Judaism. Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet).

LIS: Lesbians in Science and is a list for lesbians in industry, universities, government labs, etc. Subscription requests: [email protected]; send postings to [email protected]

MAIL-MEN: forum for discussion of men's issues. Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet).

MEDFEM-L: List for feminist medievalists. Subscription requests to:[email protected] (Bitnet) or [email protected] (Internet).

NOGLSTP: The National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals. Subscription requests to [email protected]

PRO-FEMINIST MEN'S ISSUES MAILING LIST: for both men and women. Subscription requests: [email protected] (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 [email protected] (Internet).

SASH (Sociologists Against Sexual Harassment): Moderated list focusing on sexual harassment. Subscription requests: Phoebe M. Stambaugh, [email protected] (Bitnet) or [email protected](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: [email protected] or to [email protected]

SSSSTALK: List for professional researchers, clinicians, educators, and students in the field of sexuality. Subscription requests: [email protected] (Bitnet) or [email protected] (Internet).

STOPRAPE: Sexual assault activist list. Subscription requests: [email protected] (Bitnet) or [email protected] (Internet).

SWIP-L: Society for Women in Philosophy. Subscription requests:[email protected] (Bitnet) or [email protected] (Internet).

SYSTERS: For professional women only in computer science. Subscription requests: Anita Borg at [email protected] Please put "addsyster" in the subject field of the message.

WIML-L (Women's Issues in Music Librarianship). Subscription requests: Laura Gayle Green, [email protected] (Bitnet).

WIPHYS: Moderated list for issues of concern to women in physics. Subscription requests: [email protected] (Internet).

WIRE: Women;s Information Retrieval and Exchange Nancy Rhine ([email protected]) 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 financial tips. and professional and political women's organizations."

WISENET: List for women in science, mathematics,and engineering. Subscription requests: [email protected] (Bitnet) or [email protected] (Internet).

WMN-HLTH: Women's Health Electronic News Line, started by the Center for Women's Health Research. Subscription requests: [email protected] (Bitnet) or [email protected] (Internet).

WMST-L: Forum for women's studies academics. Subscription requests:[email protected] (Internet), or [email protected]

WOMEN: general purpose list for women and women's groups. Subscription request: [email protected] (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 [email protected] or [email protected] (Internet); phone: (212) 255-3839.

WOW, Women on the Well. Women-only. Subscription requests: well.sf.ca.us. vice: 415-332-4335