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Getting women to use computers

Leslie Johnston-Dow ldow at biosys.apldbio.COM
Wed Dec 9 01:00:19 EST 1992

In article <1992Dec9.131248.314 at lincoln.ac.nz> brownt1 at lincoln.ac.nz writes:
>In article <ByyHu5.ExK at usenet.ucs.indiana.edu>, duncan at loris.cisab.indiana.edu (Shan Duncan) writes:
>>         Repeat after me:  Computers are a tool. 
>          ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>what's that got to do with anything.  besides, i've never heard anyone say 
>they hate torc-wrenches, or wave their fist at a test tube rack

I don't know about you but I have been known to curse at centrifuges
and do quite a bit more than just shake a fist at other quite annonying
instruments, computers included. Computers are a tool and like all
tools if they are not well understood by the potential users there will
be problems. If these potential users were not properly trained they
will do more that shake a fist, they will not use them. It's only 
been in the last 10-15 yrs that biologists began using computers. The
mathematicians had a lot more practice ;->. It is not out of line to
make an observation that biologists are computer-phobes it is just not 
too terribly constructive to do so. 

However, to link that with the idea that women are computerphobes is a
stretch. Maybe a better way to think about this is to say that women
are quite underrepresented in the sciences, especially the physical
sciences. The one area that women seem to have a better representation
in is the life sciences. Note that this is the same life sciences that
haven't had a lot of computer use. I'm not trying to make a great
leap of thought here just suggest a more constructive way of thinking
about this issue. Since biologists have not had a need for computers
they have not used them. Now the need is becoming acutely clear, I'll
bet we see more and more useage by biologists and users in other fields that
traditionally do not use computers. 

Leslie Johnston-Dow            ldow at apldbio.com
Applied Biosystems Inc

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