As I have mentioned, I'm experimenting with a new blog, Binary Firecracker, to chronicle news and articles related to women and technology. With it, however, I'm trying more of a straight approach with a minimum of commentary - which means when I come across a news piece that begs for commentary, it's going to end up here instead. Thanks to Rush Limbaugh (surprising, huh?), I came across just such a piece. From a recent transcript:
When I lived out in California, I had a car that had a radio that would do an auto-scan of your presets, and it would just scan the stations that were in your presets. The general manager's secretary had to go with me somewhere to some speaking event. We got in the car and I turned on the scan and for like five minutes I didn't stop it because I didn't hear a song that I wanted to hear. I just kept the auto-scan going. "Are you going to stop that at some point?" "No! I haven't got to the song I want to hear." I'm marveling at the technology that my car radio can do this, and she's upset that A, it's happening, and B, that I'm enjoying it -- and she wasn't even my wife! But that doesn't mean she's dumber than I was. It's just different interests, different things intrigue. Like I have my iPhone or I have my computer. It's not enough for me to be able to use it. I want to know how it works so if something goes wrong I can fix it, or I can describe to the tech what it's doing wrong so he can fix it fast. Women don't care. It better come on when you turn it on, and if it doesn't, there will be hell to pay. There won't be any curiosity about why it doesn't work. There will just be anger. This is not anything to do with intelligence. It just has to be with different ways that they use their time. [emphasis mine]
This is why I think talking about women in technology is important. Because there are opinions out there, set deep in our culture, that it is a contradiction in terms. This particular quote is not just an isolated incident of an offhand comment by a right-wing radio host. This is a public expression of a pervasive idea that women working in the technology field have to fight in their daily lives. And it's completely wrong.
I'm a bit tired of the voices that drown out the truth simply because they shout louder. There are plenty of women who are scientists, inventors, engineers and technicians. It doesn't take a lot of searching to turn them up. There are plenty of women interested in the way things work, and how to make them work better - or at all, when they need fixed. Of course, it's also true there probably aren't as many as there are men. But how much of that is related to our own prescribed notions and what we tell our girls they should and shouldn't be doing?
Limbaugh and those of similar opinions should probably just hope they don't ever run into a computer problem they can't fix and end up with someone like me on the other end of the support line. They might get more advice then they bargained for.