Over the past few years there has been many interesting discussions about women and technology. These range from drawing attention to how perception of the ‘booth babes’ in technology shows is now changing -see Where a woman’s place is in a bikini, not a lab coat-, denouncing discriminatory practices in the tech industry -see Dropbox’s hiring practices explain its disappointing lack of female employees-, to the actual roles that women play in technology nowadays -see Who runs the (social media) world? Girls.
In the world of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), this discussion has been in place for more than one decade. With articles such as Is GIS for women?, Mapping women’s worlds, and Women and technology in geography: a cyborg manifesto for GIS, academics have debated feminist perspectives and the use of GIS in geography studies of gender and place. However, it’s interesting to observe that many of these articles were published at the beginning of the millennium and since then, discourses on women and GIS seem to have faded out. I would like to think that this is because while the examination of the use of GIS by women was imminently necessary on that moment, we have overcome the stage where the relationship between girls and GIS was extraordinary. But I know this is far from being truth. Immersed in what are usually considered boy-playgrounds (rock climbing, comic books, robots, computer games, and technology applications for research), I have witnessed how for some (men and women) is still considered surprising for a girl to like and use technology, although this seems to be changing with new generations, at least in some socio-economic instances.
In my opinion, this diminution in topics related to GIS and women, at least in scholarly articles, may have to do with the fact that these issues have been rather included and transformed into the discourses of digital inclusion. What is interesting is that while in the literature this topic may seem not to have increased, its presence online is very much alive -see Supporting women in GIS and Women in GIS at linkein-. Another interesting issue is that almost all ‘movements’ related to GIS and women come actually from Geography. I have always wondered how other women in professions like History, Biology, Physics and Mathematics use GIS and whether they have similar perceptions in their fields about GIS and technology in general. The answer to this question might become available soon thanks to the research that Linda Loubert from Morgan State University is doing.
Linda is compiling information, creating a map of women working with GIS around the world in diverse fields and industries, so if you work in GIS and any field related to Humanities and happen to be a girl, or you know a girl that does, spread the word:
I would be very interested to know what you think (men and women alike!), and I bet you will be also looking forward to see Linda’s results.