The TES: 'Teaching is a female-dominated profession, so why is the female voice missing when it comes to ed tech?'
Let’s broaden the bandwidth and make sure that in 2018 ed tech is female-friendly, writes WomenEdTech leader Nicole Ponsford The history of ed tech is fused with gender (in)equality.
If you were a child of the 1970s, as I was, the teaching backdrop might be familiar to you, too. At the time, 60 to 70 per cent of the teaching workforce was predominately female – and in mainstream classrooms rather than leadership positions. You, however, might be surprised to learn that male teaching levels reduced to their lowest levels in primary schools (as low as 20 per cent in 1987) but their share of headships was still just over 50 per cent. Men ruled the roosts.
This was similar in the world of technology. Mass commercial advertising of ’70 and '80s home "personal computers" was largely aimed at males, like this Timex Sinclair advert of 1982. The isolated addiction of arcade-gaming jumped "Frogger" style to the PC in the family lounge. The Sinclair ZX80 marketed to the "everyman" (ahem) and computer gamer magazines fuelled the "must-have" desire creating a masculine-heavy community. Computers became a hobbyist talking point, removed from the administration and scientific world that the original computers began in. Technology became associated with microcomputing, gaming and males. Although education campaigns like the Acorn/BBC Computer Literacy Project (1982) hoped to reach "everyone", they didn’t bring in the girls. This was the impact (clue: no women’s lives changed in this post). If you didn’t dream of coding, you weren’t into computers. End of.
Sadly schools did not do much to change this. The world of ed tech embedded these two realities, despite the female majority actually working in schools.
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