women and technology

Women express more interest in buying tablets, laptops and smartphones.

Two thousand consumers were recently surveyed about their buying habits with unexpected results.  The survey found that women are embracing new technology and gadgets at a higher rate than men. The insight, provided by retailer HSN, has left men everywhere responding with a characteristic “Whuh?”

Women express more interest in buying tablets, laptops and smartphones, the study showed. The only segment in which male interest topped female interest was flat-screen LCD televisions (the survey went down just before football season).

To say women are liberating their inner geek would be overstating. Dame Wendy Hall, who’s credited with co-creating the Microcosm hypermedia system (a precursor to the Internet), warned just this week that too few female students are studying computer sciences due to the prevailing perception that computers are “toys for boys.”

But that’s the programming side of it. On the consumer side, women are fully engaged in high tech. They want to drive the car, they just don’t care to pop the hood.

The stereotype that technology is for men and by men is based on a black & white, IBM-inspired image we never deleted from our mental RAM: that of some dorky guys in short-sleeved button-downs engineering a CPU the size of a moving van. Perceptions are way past due for an upgrade. On January 1, 2012, Virginia “Ginni” Rometty became the first female CEO of IBM. And in case you think Rometty is just a glitch in the gender code, check these other tech leaders:

  • Meg Whitman, President and CEO of Hewlett Packard
  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
  • Cher Wang, Cofounder and Chairperson of HTC
  • Ursula Burns, CEO and Chairperson, Xerox
  • Safra A. Catz, President and CFO, Oracle
  • Sondra Barbour – CIO, Lockheed Martin

Technology itself is taking on more feminine characteristics; it’s more comfortable, more interactive, more “friendly.” Mobile devices and camcorders are light and curvaceous. Long gone are the brutish CRT monitors, and the boomboxes only a weightlifter could shoulder. Studies showing that both genders respond more favorably to the sound of a woman’s voice have led to most GPS’s, not to mention iPhone’s Siri, defaulting to female-voice settings. So, guys, the next time you’re chastised for not asking directions, you can prove that you really do. You even take them from a woman.

Photo credit: Stanford