Course Introduction – Gender, Culture, and Technology (WMST 446)

Why are there fewer women in technology-based environments than men? Is this the result of inborn preferences that make some positions or careers more appealing, depending on your gender? What about cultural gender bias — how does this come into play?

If you’re interested in exploring the fascinating gender issue, you’ll be interested in Athabasca University’s new course: Gender, Culture, and Technology (WMST 446). A 3-credit course in the social sciences, WMST 446 has no pre-requisite, meaning that all you need to enroll is an interest in issues related to women and technology, and a love of learning!

Gender, Culture, and Technology (WMST 446) is divided into three parts, each of which explores a set of complex issues. The first section, which includes units 1 and 2, acts as a springboard off which the rest of the course hinges. You’ll be introduced to the concept of gender, as well as gender bias; and you’ll also have the opportunity to explore the non-physical differences between women and men, and how this relates to the pervasive technology of this time, in addition to our Canadian culture. You’ll wrestle interesting problems such as why some positions seem to be male- or female- dominated, and where the lines cross…

Once you’ve completed the first section of WMST 446, you’ll delve into the history of women and technology. Throughout the centuries, how have women had an impact on technology? And in turn, how has technology influenced women, and their career development? You’ll explore possible answers to the question of gender differences and preferences — are women better at performing some technologically-related or career-related tasks than men, or vice versa? In addition, our society has been infiltrated with many ideologies and stereotypical presentations of women and technology; Gender, Culture and Technology (WMST 446) will help you sift the truth from all of these, and form your own ideas.

The third and final section of Gender, Culture, and Technology (WMST 446) opens with a discussion on issues related to women’s place in technology and the working force. It also shows how we view gender, from both a social and human standpoint. You’ll delve into the puzzling fact that fewer women choose careers in computing and information technology-based workplaces than their male counterparts—-and why this might be the case. The last unit wraps up the course with an interesting discussion on potential solutions to this curious fact.

Your mark in Gender, Culture, and Technology (WMST 446) is based on two assignments and one final exam. The first two course assignments, each worth 35%, are research-project style, and consist of your research on a particular course-related topic in 7 to10 page (double-spaced) report. WMST 446’s final exam is a take-home, open book exam delivered at the end of the course, and is worth 30% of your course mark.

If you’re interested in taking Gender, Culture, and Technology (WMST 446), you might be interested in knowing a little more about Athabasca University’s Associate Prof in Women’s Studies: Dr Cathy Cavanaugh. Dr. Cavanaugh, a native of Alberta, received her undergraduate (B.A.), master’s (M.A.) and PhD from the University of Alberta. A member of AU’s team since 1986, she teaches several AU courses — mainly in the Women’s Studies faculty. An avid writer, Dr Cavanaugh has several publications behind her name, as well, she recently edited several books dealing with early women’s contributions to Canadian history. In addition, she is currently writing a biography centering around Irene Parlby, an influential woman in Albertan politics during the early 20th century.

Make Gender, Culture, and Technology (WMST 446) your next course choice! Visit the course syllabus at: http://www.athabascau.ca/html/syllabi/wmst/wmst446.htm, or visit the Centre for Work and Community Studies’ homepage at: http://www.athabascau.ca/wcs

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