Now to root of these blogs. One of the biggest responses to why there are so few video games or other technologies geared toward girls or women is because they don't "sell" so companies can't make money marketing to girls. The ironic part is that they don't sell because they are not marketed to girls or women. It becomes an endless circle. Many decision makers have made a blanket decision to not make any attempts at changing this, it has become so evident to me as I walked into Barnes and Noble Book Store in Washington DC.
I decided that I wanted to take a look at the tech magazines and see what was going on in the industry. I have been in this book store many times and bought many books and tech magazine from here so it was not a first time visit. As I started to look for the place I once found the magazines previously I realized they had been moved I started to search in the different sections. As I am looking at the titles listed above the magazines I find one named "Men's Interests," I didn't think much of it until I looked at the next title "Computers," side by side. I thought this has to be a mistake. I begin looking at all the titles surrounding these titles. Directly across was "Transportation" (cars), on the other side of computers was "Sports" on the opposite side of Transportation was "Entertainment" and all of these were in the back of the magazine section.
So of course now I go looking for the women's interest sections. I find a section called "Juvenile" under this section I find Working Mother Magazine, ePregnancy.com, some magazines for children and teens, and parenting magazines. I am not sure but does ePreganancy.com fall under Juvenile? I go back to the magazine section for computers I pick up my few magazines including Working Mother and ePregnancy.com, curious to know what this ePregnancy is really about, Smart Computing and JAVA developers. I proceed to counter and ask the cashier "Why is the computer section for magazines in the Men's Interests section. She explains to me that there is a Magazine Manager that organizes the section who was not present but that I could talk to the store manager who was only 2 feet away from me. She called him over and I asked the same question.
His reply, "We did not set the magazines up in any way to offend anyone, but we get our magazine display information from the New York head office, it is organized in the manner that we MAKE money." Men are the ones that buy computer magazines." He then decided to take me to the women's interest section, which I never found because it was facing the glass outside and in the FRONT of the magazine section. If I recalled the Men's Interest section was in the back. My recommendation was to have the computer magazines on the wall or in a central location between the Men's Interest and Women's Interest so that customers leaving either section would see the magazines. His reply, the wall was too small to have the computer magazines there, but he will discuss my concerns at their next meeting on the magazine displays. Again he apologized and indicated that it was not designed to offend.
Needless to say I was offended. Should any woman feel comfortable going to a magazine section labeled "Men's Interests?" I don't think any man would feel comfortable going to a section labeled "Women's Interests." As the Executive Officer of a nonprofit that focuses on promoting technology education and enrichment for young girls and woman, how do I convince a teenage girl to find resources about computers in the "Men's Interests" Section?
We will be sending a letter to Barnes and Noble and continuing our campaign on technology equity. Technology is neutral, it is the presentation of it that makes the difference. Keep checking this weblog for ongoing updates.