Siliconned: The Duality of Digital Divide

I thought I'd take a moment to passively juxtapose a couple of articles about women and computers I've seen bouncing around the world wide interwebs this week.

Dell has launched a site called "Della" with the hope of attracting a more 'feminine' clientele. Della doesn't simply feature more 'girlie' aesthetics; the site itself is designed to present a vibe that is more nurturing and gentle than its supposedly gender-neutral counterpart. (Just look at all that warmth in those photos!)

The four main sections of Della include information about the femme-y products; a featured female artist, who I assume is responsible for creating Della product designs; technology tips, which is really more about the social uses of a computer (organizing and reading books) than the computer itself; and giving to charity, as in how you can give money to the Susan B. Komen Foundation by buying pink Della products. At the end of each blog-like section the reader has an opportunity to "share your thoughts" with "Gina Q".

The company swiftly removed suggestions from its tech tips page about finding recipes online and counting calories when several unimpressed ladies snarkily complained on their own blogs. I assume this means Della is scouring the interwebs for gossip about herself, so be sure to leave your schoolyard whispers about what you think of her below.

Related though it's lady computer-ness, a Lagos-based NGO called the Women's Technology Empowerment Centre (WTEC) is holding a free Girls Technology Camp in August. WTEC wants to stimulate an interest and technological savvy in Nigeria's young women with the long-term goal of increasing the number of females in tech-related careers. The camp lasts for one week and lessons include everything from introducing what a computer is and how it works to learning how to use email to having conversations about social issues that effect women and girls lives and opportunities.

In my meanderings about the many ways Della is 'getting it wrong' with regard to women, it occurred to me that maybe I should tell Dell that what women really want from a multinational corporation is not a flowery designed laptop or tips on where to recycle an old computer; what would actually engender a positive feeling for Dell among women, imho, is if the company donates all of those stylishly feminized computers to WTEC and organizations like them whose actions, not just their marketing, show that their concern and caring for girls goes beyond putting cash in their own pockets.

The revolution will not be corporatized, y'all.

by Mandy Van Deven
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3 Comments Have Been Posted


i couldn't agree more- i've been using a laptop since before they made the girl version. i don't need a new computer right now but my writing counterpart somewhere else does. how about #Della promises to send one to her if i buy a new ubuntu dell(a/whatever) mini? i didn't say i didn't want one, after all.

say no to emotional manipulation.

what do I want vs. what other women want

This is interesting to me because of a conversation I had just yesterday. My side of the conversation was about science and how it hasn't had the importance we (people in academia) think it should have. Her side of the conversation turned to "well, the definition of science is determined by white males so we should come up with a new definition".

I hastily conclude that:
What I want is fair access and participation in this world as it is. I want a computer that works really well and that is dependable, regardless of its color. I want a really good job that utilizes the best of my abilities and talents.

What other women may want is to change the world. A computer that is about caring not about performance, in colors that reflect ... something. A job that is defined in their own terms and expanded definitions of what job, abilities and talents are.

It's a hard job for the marketers, I guess.

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