Women, Evil and Technology vs Conventional Ideas of Femininity

women and technology


The mermaid, the witch, the femme fatale (…): these are all representations of evil women or women who have subverted the conventional ideas of femininity. Kept alive in oral tradition and hidden in the unspoken rules of society, the dangerous, evil woman lives on to define what we believe a woman should be


These words belong to the overview of “Perceiving Evil: Evil, Women and the Feminine” edited by D. Farnell, R. Noiva and K. Smith in the frame of the alternative, unconventional, and multidisciplinary approach promoted by the Evil Project. This year, the Project will hold its 8th Global Meeting in Oxford (UK) on 23-25 September. Its main aim will be to analyse which was and which is the characterization of women with regard to evil. In their own words: “We are fascinated by stories of real and fictional women who perpetrate evil deeds, experience evil as victims, fight against evil and take the blame as scapegoats for evil that exists in the world”. Proposals for various forms of contributions should be summited by 22nd April 2016.

Beyond the idea of evil, it might seem that nowadays the relation of women with the technological world is almost a deviation of the conventional ideas of femininity. In many contexts, mainly in Europe and in the US, the participation of women in this field is completely minority and in some societies women are even perceived not to be “natural technologists”. However, this has not always been the case. As Sarah Murray describes in the Financial Times: “In the US and much of Western Europe in the 1980s, (…), women collected almost 40 per cent of computer science degrees. Today, however, the figure is 15 to 20 per cent”. Leer más

Technology and Higher Education: challenges and opportunities for coming years

nmcLast month the New Media Consortium (NMC) released its annual Horizon Report which identifies six key trends accelerating technology adoption in higher education and six challenges hindering its adoption. The NMC is a not-for-profit organization stemming from the confluence of higher education institutions, museums and companies that centers its research activity on emerging technologies.

The report divides the trends accelerating ed tech adoption into fast, mid-range and long-range trends. Fast trends are the growing perception of online learning as a viable alternative to some forms of face-to-face learning, and the gradual emergence of new learning environments. As for mid-range trends, the report identifies the credit increasingly gained by the open education resources and the growing use of data left by students on the internet, which helps improve the educational experience. The long-range trends are the ever more positive attitude of universities towards change (especially the one driven by technology) and the boost of cooperation among higher education institutions.

The six challenges impeding ed tech adoption in higher education are divided into solvable, difficult and wicked challenges. Solvable challenges are digital literacy, a skill addressed in school that encompasses the need to blend formal and informal learning. Difficult challenges are those concerning the emergence of the myriad ways of communication and interconnection and the difficulties when it comes to personalizing learning. Finally, the competition between new and traditional models of education and the lack of rewards for teaching are labeled as wicked challenges.

All in all, some trends repeat over the years, while others disappear or change to a greater or lesser extent. Technology and Education have become two inseparable realities that affect each other. Education is undergoing a seamless reshaping process, clearly influenced by technology, while the potential of technology cannot be detached from the traditional dynamics of bricks-and-mortar higher education institutions.

The report can be found here.

What the Shift to Mobile Means for Blind News Consumers

blindmp2It makes sense that the shift to mobile – and the stripped down, sparse aesthetic that in many cases comes with it – makes web navigation easier for someone using screen readers and other tools designed to help people with varying levels of sightedness. Mobile sites often mean a more pleasant experience for sighted users, too.

Retailers like Amazon and grocery-delivery service Peapod have great mobile sites, Danielsen says, where most news organizations are still lagging. He’ll often log onto a website’s mobile iteration as a way to cut through the clutter. (Check out m.theatlantic.com/technology, for instance.)

“We’re swimming in news now. There has never been a more golden age for blind people.”

Horizon 2014 Report Is Out: 6 Technologies Will Change Colleges in Coming Years

The six technologies and the changes they’re expected to bring are detailed in“NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition,” a 52-page document  comprised by the 56 international experts.

In a nutshell, the following trends and time horizons were identified by panel members:

 *  The two most imminent, within 2 years,  are the integration of social media into every aspect of college education and life and the blending of online, hybrid, and collaborative learning with face-to-face instruction.

 *  In 3 to 5 yearsdata-driven learning and assessment will have its maximum impact on campuses, helping to personalize learning and improve performance measurement. Also listed as having its greatest impact in three to five years is a shift toward “learning by making and creating rather than from the simple consumption of content.”

 * Two trends were identified  as long-range, with  their biggest impact is still 5 or more years away: the continuing evolution of online learning and universities’ shift to more agile “approaches to teaching and learning that mimic technology start-ups.”

For each of the trends the panel identified, the report offers examples and a further-reading list, as well as a discussion of whether the changes affect leadership, policy, practice, or some combination of the three.

The format of the report is new this year, providing these leaders with more in-depth insight into how the trends and challenges are accelerating and impeding the adoption of educational technology, along with their implications for policy, leadership and practice:


See also:


Tech-Enabled Experiments Must Be Part of Education Reform, U.S. Report Says

The U.S. Education Department must experiment with alternative models, such as stackable credentials and competency-based programs, as part of broader reforms of the nation´s postsecondary-education system, according to a report titled “A Path Forward.” published on 8/12/2013 by the Center for American Progress. The call for reforms aligns with goals of combating rising costs in higher education, addressing workplace needs and clearing the way for innovation.

Competency-based education receives special attention in the report. It calls for the development of standards and measures -based on job placement, earnings, and other factors- to assess the productivity of such alternative models. It also advocates engaging employers in order to better align higher education with workplace needs. Today, employers draw candidates with certain majors but may not know much about their actual workplace skills. Among the most prominent competency-based programs are those offered by Western Governors U. and Southern New Hampshire U.

Existing technology systems are named  part of the problem. They buttress a higher-education system that continues to deliver instruction by in-person and online classes held 2 or 3 times a week for up to 15 weeks. These systems will need to be modified significantly to record credits earned not in a classroom but ultimately to be awarded based on an assessment, the report says.

Even bigger changes will need to take place at the organizational level of colleges, with entirely new roles for administrators and faculty members. Some will specialize in the technology used to deliver content, and some will focus on assessment, but both will have little responsibility for instruction. Others will be instructional coaches, helping students through particularly difficult learning modules and competencies.

Read in full:

Tech-Enabled Alternatives Must Be Part of Education Reform, Report Says

“A Path Forward” Report

Gender equality: from the grassroots of society to the political agenda

On October 1st, the UNESCO Chair in e-Learning participated in the final Roundtable of the research project “Professional trajectories of women in ICT: employment dynamics and policy responses in Spain & the UK”, that has been carried out by the Gender & ICT research program of the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3). This project has analized the gender differences and consequent exclusion of women in ICT, in an academic dimension as well as in a professional and employment scale. The research has focused on comparing the cases between UK and Spain, with the help and experience of professionals from both countries and the financial support of spanish Instituto de la Mujer.

The study has also followed and analysed examples from governmental Spanish initiative Plan Avanza, which had a line of action on promoting gender inclusive policies among women in ICTs. At this point, when the design and effectiveness of the different policies and plans have been studied, the investigation has reached and end and it is time to rise up conclusions to draw the pattern of change.

Juliet Webster, currently the Director of the study, stated at the roundtable: “The change has to be made in the grassroots of society. Women have to start thinking in a non sexist way. For sustainable gender policies we need women in all jobs”. She highlighted the empowerment that women need in order to get fair and equal chances. Also she pointed out that all women should be aware that “the engagement with ICTs needs to be over the life course”.

But as Webster remembers in one of her last articles at Open Thoughts Blog, there are still a lot of gender “stubborn inequalities”, and we just need to look at the data: “Throughout the EU, women earn on average 18% less than their male counterparts with equivalent qualifications and experience. Women also remain remarkably under-represented in top jobs, disappearing from career ladders as they ascend. They only represent 16.1% of board members of Fortune 500 companies”.

Just 20% of graduate women worldwide have a computer science degree

Cecilia Castaño, who served as former Director and now is advisor for the current one, explained that at this crucial point of the investigation all the efforts have to be focused on giving quality information to governments and administrations so they can lead the change: “Governments should include the gender agenda in their policies. There should not be distinctions according to the ideologies of the parties. Mobilisation of different stakeholders is vital and this includes ensuring high-level political support”.

Nevertheless, Castaño remembered that there “have to be many other society actors involved: gender agencies, educational institutions, parents associations, companies and foundations. They all have to work together to achieve goals and incentivise women to take a leading role for this purpose”.

Researchers agree that further action and study need to be done; most important of all work is to “tackle the right stakeholders”. Many countries have failed in achieving such policies but others have obtained success, like Sweden. There is where researchers look up to. Measures should be designed from the basis of women needs (from bottom to top) and they need to be sustainable, meaning that they have to be checked and evaluated continuously to achieve long term results. And most important of all: for the implementation of these policies continuity of funding is fundamental, that is when gender policies will have a true real spot in the political agenda.


 Related Links:


The Most Influential Women in Technology

Women Tech

Fast Company Magazine has compiled a list of the most influential women in technology. They did it last year (2010) and now it’s time to know who are the leading female experts in technology for 2011. The list includes different caterories depending onthe expertise fields: The Entrepeneurs, The Gamers, The Brainiacs, The Advocates, The Media, The Executives.

Full list of the Most Influential Women in Technology for 2011 at Fast Company Website

Image by | Fast Company www.fastcompany.com

Technological individualism: subverting the technological choices made by your institution?


[…] Have you been tempted to circumvent or subvert the technological choices made by your institution? When, as tech-savvy academics, should we go our own way technologically, and when should we do our best to support the technology being used by our colleagues?

This is the closing question in an article of the Chronicle of Higher Education used to start a debate among their readers.

Many tech-savy academics find themselves in trouble when trying to use software that has not been officially approved by their institutions. Sometimes, institutions think that their staff members should accept and do not discuss technological choices as long as this choices involve investments with related costs (licences, support, maintenance…) We must take into account that this is important when it is related to CMS systems (Content Magament Systems) and other tools that allow academics to make difussion of their work and get in touch with people of their field of work.

So, it is clear that some choices may not be the best ones to support certain academics’ or departments’ activities, in that case, should the staff of this institutions go their on way?.  Should we devote to our institutions’ technological choices or devote to the efectiveness of these choices?

What dou you think?

Online strategies and new business models: the Wikimedia phenomenon

TechTalks, UOC

Today Julià Minguillón, Academic Director of the UNESCO Chair had a meeting with Kul Wadhwa, Managing director of Wikimedia Foundation once he finished his talk at UOC (you can see the summary here).

During the meeting they discussed about how to promote the use of Wikipedia among teachers and, of course, students. One of the main problems is that nowadays it seems that most HE institutions are adopting learning object repositories as a way of organizing learning resources, which is a top-down approach, while Wikipedia is built using a bottom-up approach, driven by the community.

Repositories and Wikipedia serve to different purposes, but teachers creating content are not able to easily “transfer” such content from institutional repositories to Wikipedia and viceversa. Wikipedia is based on hyperlinking, creating a network of contents (i.e. pages) linked to each other, while repositories rely on structured metadata descriptions which are usually created by librarians. The way repositories (and digital libraries) are used has nothing to do with the philosophy of Wikipedia, so there is an important gap we need to bridge between both worlds in order to avoid duplicated efforts.  New ways of organizing and searching for information in both Wikipedia and learning object repositories must be devised, as well as new user interfaces that exploit the possibilities of mobile devices. Wikipedia could be an important tool for making the deep web more visible.