Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 7 No. 4 | Winter 1985 (Seattle) /// Issue 14 of 24 /// Master# 62 of 73

that time for a woman to apply for a patent, she showed it to Eli Whitney. This historical perspective enlightened me, and it eased my sometimes overwhelming sense of isolation. As I began dismantling the cultural armor, I took a realistic look around my office. The place was filled with men designing software, hardware, and telecommunications equipment. Women worked in clerical positions or as technical writers like myself, with a few women programmers working their way up the ranks. The pattern—the gender division of labor—was right before my eyes. I began to look beyond my own experience and the pattern emerged stronger. Engineering firms, high technology companies, and nuclear plants were filled with men designing, managing, and implementing the technologies affecting our lives, while women were traditionally assembling, keypunching, operating, or attending to details. This pattern illustrates the disadvantages for women in both eucational and employment arenas. As girls, most of us did not “tinker.” We were not encouraged to delve into or guided through the secrets of the mathematical hierarchy or the mysteries of science which would open the doors to the research labs or electronics firms. Our lack of such education once again decreases our role, status, decision-making, and economic options. Women continue to be operators or consumers of technology and targets of advertising, rather than innovatorsand designers. With more clues in hand, the contradictions became more glaring. Technology is transforming the way we all live and work. Women are entering the workforce at an unprecedented rate. These clues brought me back to basic everyday economics and to how they impacted women. During the past ten years there has been a slight increase in the number of women working as engineers, scen- tists, and in other technical fields. Even thoug this trend continues, who controls technology? Women and minorities have little access to these corridors of power. My observation as a manager is that the skill necessary for developing computer technology is not necessarily an aptitude for mathematics, but rather an THE TECHNICAL AND PROFESSIONAL JOBS WHERE WOMEN ARE GAINING GROUNDCOMPUTER PROGRAMMING MIDDLE-MANAGEMENT AND THE LAW—ARE BEING DE-CLASSIFIED AND THE SALARIES LOWERED. ability to translate needs in a given environment into words, procedures, or products. Many jobs such as engineering aide, software technician, quality control specialist, technical writer, and others fit into this category. On the other hand, it is now clear from U.S. Census data that the technical and professional jobs where women are gaining ground- computer programming, middle-management, and the law—are being declassified and the salaries lowered. From my feminist vantage point other questions surfaced. What options did other technologies provide for men and women? For example, reproductive technologies such as the pill, IUD, cervical cap, and contraceptive sponge upon closer examination are risky, and the risks are overwhelmingly borne by women. More directly on the work front, I found that little research has been done on the effects of silicon chips, CRTs, and radiation on the health of people assembling or operating them, most of whom are women and minorities. The high tech industry talked about its “clean” image concerning environmental issues. I kept wondering how these potential hazards could be ignored. As a translator I spent more and more time demystifying technical terminology and began sharing my knowledge of computers and word processing with just about anyone who wanted to know. I had simple definitions and metaphors for byte, distributed processing, and core memory at the tip of my tongue. I participated in a discussion group on women and technology issues, and scrutinized ’ the myth that permeated the press—high tech as panacea. My next step was to begin consolidating ideas and strategies, and to organize a conference on the subject. Other women were posing the same questions and were concerned about some of the same contradictions with which I had become obsessed. I found out I was not alone. nee out of my isolation, I came to terms with the irony that each technology is developed without looking at how it will affect our social, economic, and cultural structures—our quality of life. Some models for dealing with the separation of technology development from people and culture are arising in Western Europe. For example, included in the planning to automate a plant in Sweden is a study of the impacts on workers, with the workers involved in the planning process. An assessment of how the technology may affect people, the health and safety of the population, the environment, jobs, education and training, and the local economy is taken into consideration. As Americans we find ourselves with national policies dictating that technology is how we measure our wealth, our cultural self-worth. Automation and technology are seen as ends in themselves, rather than as part of an integrated process incorporating humanistic and cultural values in concert with technological goals. Our cultural temperament and economic climate tend to reject planning processes and investigations into long-term strategies in favor of simple solutions and short-term gains. We also tend to'ignore one of our keenest strengths as a nation—diversity. We do have a U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, but researching our country’s social and cultural fabric as part of assessing technology is not a focus of its work. This agency is sparsely funded in the Reagan administration. Who in America is weighing the social, political, and economic ramifications of our technological decisions? I wondered if our history could have been different if we had assessed the implications of nuclear technology before our landscape was dotted with dozens of nuclear power plants. Finding ways to infuse humanist values concerning equity, decision-making policies, health, safety, equal education and employment access into our technological development processes calls for radical changes in our educational, planning, and decision-making structures. This type of change is not imminent, but there are starting points. The challenge I faced was to unthink the cultural armor and td begin taking action by Fall Schedule of 3 Plays THE TOOTH OF CRIME by Sam Shepard* "Sizzling .... a socko production!" Seattle Times LIMBO TALES by Len Jenkin* ... o delightful + incredible production." Journal American LINDA HER/THE FAIRY GARDEN Nov. A wacky comedy by Harry Kondoleon. 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