The Gender Un-balance of Web 2.0

So Maz really has shaken the gender teapot. First the post Me Tarzan. You Jane, then Geeks can be Chic(K)s.

Some quotes,

Add to this my return from a recent visit to the San Francisco to the O’Reilly Web 2.0 Expo where I was struck by the uniformity of the male technology enthusiasts – As one of the few females in attendance, I stuck out like a PC at a Mac convention, so much so that another woman with whom I met remarked how few ‘skirts there were amongst all the suits’. Well that’s certainly one way to put it!

It does sadden me to think that amongst my daily little foray into the Web 2.0 world, there is little realisation, nor concern about such a gender imbalance. It seems ironic that where we are very savvy at collectively contributing and sharing information there is a lack of attention about the formation of such user knowledge, shares and application creation.

Maybe the way the world is Tarzan build tools; Jane gets to use them…

Perhaps the Web 3.0 jungle will bring with it a more egalitarian gender balance?

Yep there's certainly no real argument there. Some of the comments are also interesting, including this one which points out that there more women in the less programming led fields. Human computing, interaction and even xml seem to be fields where woman are more common that straight programming.

But whats really interesting is…

It seems that gender is not the only issue here, but also the geek image. You are only allowed into The Club if you possess an in-depth knowledge of coding and more structural aspects of web development. Ok so here my own level of ‘geek ability’ does rather fall short. I do, do HTML (when forced), Javascript, Flash and so on… but hell Web 2.0 fluidity makes this less of an ‘essential’ special power – especially as I am not by ‘trade’ a web developer. However, there are
important assumptions that are being made about the types of knowledge one should (and can) possess and the association of such abilities along gendered lines.

Case in note, one of the biggest issues that a (female) friend of mine has come across is that people assume that she is not a web developer. No, not that she is not capable, but simply that she does not fit the ‘image’, that that particular role calls forth. Now where’s the equality in that?

The Geek image is certainly something which I've touched on before but I've never thought about how the poor geek image is affecting women.

I'm going to avoid the current comments about special treatment just to say if the environment and people are inherently corrupt how do you reverse that? The answer isn't simple and its something most people hate but most people have never faced such corruption.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at, and