Invitation to the Scholar and Feminist planning committee, 1982

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Barnard College


September 1, 1982

Dear Friend:

As the academic coordinator of this year's Scholar and the Feminist Conference, I intend to try to provoke you into thinking about a very .broad conference topic: women and technology. Before you start thinking this is either uninteresting, irrelevant to you, or even ‘not a

feminist issue,‘ stop for a moment.

Have you, your friends or kids, played PacMan (the video game over- whelmingly favored by women over men)? Have you considered the implications of electronic banking and shopping for housework? Do you work at a video display terminal (VDT), or are you aware of the health hazards of this technology, especially for women workers? Have you

been following developments in reproductive engineering, or

thought about their implications for women's control over their own bodies? Can you see a relationship between the 'labor—saving devices’ that we in this country are being sold--and the destruction of the health of southeast asian girls working in micro-processor assembly plants?

I am not only saying that the question of technology is important, but that there needs to be a feninist analysis'of technology. Women are right in the middle of this question (as one writer recently observed, five out of every eight women workers in this country are in an occupation that will lose from 20 to 90% of its existing jobs from computer automation.) The feminist movement has done a lot to try to demystify science for women, but considering how ‘science’ is produced, it may even be time to debate our so-called female science phobia. Are we really phobic, or do we object to the kind of technology that is being produced? Eventually these questions return us to a starting point--what is technology and where does it come from? As I see it, we'll have to develop a basic perspective on what technology is, how to understand it as a process, before being able to talk about the problems. And beyond talking about the problems, we will also need to talk about futures, reclaiming our futures. (This is one idea behind the interest in feminist science fiction, which we may want to explore.)

But there is no reason for me to go on and on about what we could talk about in this planning committee. Come to the meetings, or let me know if you are indeed interested, but prefer other meeting times.

Hope to talk with you,