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2009 January 25
by ZY

Hi everyone, I’m a senior psychology major at Bryn Mawr, with a neural and behavioral sciences concentration. I decided to take this class because it’s my last semester here and I wanted to take something purely for interest and I’ve never taken an English, Computer Science, or Gender Studies class. I had never considered how gender and technology intersected until we started discussing our first experiences with technology. When people started bringing up stories about how their gender affects the way others evaluate their competence with technology, I realized how amazing it is that everything I’ve learned at Bryn Mawr is interrelated.

My thesis research is on something that seems completely unrelated- individual differences in spatial ability. More specifically, I’m looking at gender differences and how playing sports affects the gender gap. Previous literature has repeatedly shown that males have superior spatial ability in comparison to females. During my literature search, I found that many contributing environmental factors focus on gender socialization and experience in spatial-related activities such as video and computer games, which are often associated with males. Furthermore, taking into consideration a biological component, the “bent-twig” theory states that males self-select into these spatial activities because of an innate predisposition for spatial ability. In other words, the initial bend among males directs their interests and choice of activities. Participation in these spatial activities then helps further develop these abilities, which ultimately increases these gender differences. I know this was a bit tangential, but perhaps it might help explain why there’s such a gender disparity associated with technology and I would like to explore this further.

Also, when we were talking about our first experiences with technology, I didn’t even think about things like a stove or a shotgun. My mind went directly to the internet, which occurred later in my childhood, but it was such a significant time. I just remember the beginning of the AOL Instant Messenger craze and I would spend hours and hours online talking to my friends. The internet changed how we communicate, and in turn, it changed the nature of relationships. When we can’t see the face or hear the voice of the person we’re communicating with, especially if it’s a stranger, gender becomes almost invisible. I am very interested in discussing how the internet affects the way we think about gender.

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