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Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Truth On Women and Technology

The Germans have a saying that one hears quite often: "Frauen und Technik" which means literally translated "Women and Technology" - to get the full meaning, you have to imagine an exaggerated rolling of the eyes and shaking of the head on the part of the speaker - not to mention the sardonic tone it is said with.

In short, German men believe German women don't understand technical things - computers, phones, home theater systems etc. (They overlook the fact that women manage just fine with kitchen appliances, washing machines and other "feminine" appliances.) German women seem perfectly happy to relinquish the programming of the VCR or the set up of their new laptop to a worthy male. American women, at least the cunning ones, do this too, although they have grown a bit rusty and are not quite as elegant with their execution of some of the finer points.

Then there are those silly women who actually parade around their technical know-how like a badge of honor - talking about, or even worse, demonstrating advanced technical ability in one area or another. While this may a good strategy at work - in your personal life it will only bring aggravation and suffering. I know this from experience - I was one of those silly women.

Luckily I developed a whopping case of Chronic Technoamnesiasyntosis before too much damage had been done to my personal well-being and sanity.

As it turns out, once people find out that you know what to do when "they lose their Internet" or their screen suddenly turns cerulean blue, or they can't print, or their computer slows down to the speed of cold molasses, - they will not hesitate to call you the second they think something is wrong with their computer. Not just once - but every 5 minutes until the problem has been fixed.

Not only that, but once you help them with their current problem, everything that goes wrong with their system in the future is now your fault. Your friends and family will think nothing of keeping you on the phone for 45 minutes or longer while they try to get their email - they don't care that you have something on the stove, kids to pick up or that you were actually busy with something else. Nope - the world just has to stop spinning until your sister can read her email.

Your children will have no problem adding technical support to their list of things you can do for them - no sexism there! They will also expect to have access to the Internet (high-speed of course) no matter where they are. You are expected to get it for them. (My daughter would call me to troubleshoot her Internet connection at school over the phone - instead of using the school's tech support - easier to call Mom.)

I figure with the current rate of technological advancement I am on the hook for at least another year or two before I can convincingly place my coffee cup in the ejected CD ROM drive. I have started making jokes centered around the oven and stove in the kitchen when anyone mentions "Burning a DVD" and run for the thermometer when one of my kids tells me "I think I have a virus". So far they just roll their eyes and say "very funny Mommy, now can you help me?" (The first time OK - but after losing the key to the anti-virus software for the 5Th time - I am thinking "slacker").

At least I didn't make the same mistake with the TV. I do an Oscar winning performance of "Woman who can't locate the power button on the remote control much less change the channel to what you want to watch". I also reinforce my new image by asking to use "that iPod thing" and then mistakenly cranking up the volume to rock-concert level.

I am going to get myself an iPod of my own - but nobody will EVER see me use it!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In Denmark we have the same saying about women and technology, but I suppose it just is an old-fashioned joke by now.

I have been in the computer business since the very beginning and I do recognize everything in your story - and I think I will start the strategy as you, so thanks for your great advice. :)

Sanne from Denmark

PS: I've just discovered your blog and already love it, great website too! :)