Thursday, April 1, 2010

Silly Girls -- the Internet is for Boys!

It's April 1, meaning that it's time for technology blogs -- and it's always technology blogs -- to pull out that tiresome old canard of making their site women-friendly. It wasn't funny when Slashdot did it, and it's not funny now that PetaPixel has done it. Yes, how hilarious to market technology sites towards women! After all, we know that the internet is for the menfolk!

On a related note, many sites nowadays have user icons. But what if you don't upload one? What sort of "default" icon is provided for you? In most cases, it's a male icon. Sites with male default icons include, but are not limited to:

It is possible to have gender-neutral default icons. Flickr uses an emoticon. Twitter has a bird. Typepad has abstract designs. Why have a masculine default icon when you could have a neutral one? Clearly no one -- not even Jezebel -- would ever have a feminine default icon.

This is why I cheered when Nancy Pelosi said, "Being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition." Because I'm tired of the meme that the default status is male, whether in health care or on silly blogs online.


Amanda said...

Excellent post, Becky. It's another side of the annoying pink hat/t-shirt for women sports fans coin.

Michael said...

Thanks for the feedback Becky, we'll be changing the default comment icon soon.

And apologies if our April Fools irked you!

Becky said...

Amanda: in the Midwest, I never actually saw much of the pink hats and t-shirts for women sports fans. Even on campus. Maybe it's more prevalent in NY? (But in general, women being hard-core sports fans seems less weird in the Midwest than in California.)

What I'd love to see more of is women's cuts and sizes in the actual team colors.

Michael: The default one on the normal version of the site was actually one of the most egregious -- it wasn't merely a silhouette, but a very, very masculine cartoon. I'd been meaning to complain about it eventually; the April Fools thing just got the bee in my bonnet. Glad to hear you'll be changing it! I otherwise really enjoy your site.

Caryn said...

I'm a Program Manager at a social media company, and we recently got rid of a default icon set for a generic one.

Do you know how long it took me to find default icons to represent a user and a group that wasn't male?
I reviewed hundreds and hundreds of default icon sets before I found one. I had my (male) manager's support to do so, but it was tough to explain to other people why the task was taking so long and why it was so important to be neutral.

(former original Seattle Webgrrl here)

Amanda said...

Perhaps the pink hats and t-shirts are more prevalent on the east coast (the worst offenders are the Red Sox - and if you don't believe me, google Red Sox + pink hats).

The idea that tech sites are exclusively for men is the same as the belief that only male sports fans want shirts and other apparel in team colors. Sports franchises believe women fans want pink hats/shirts and t-shirts in the team colors - with rhinestones. I saw a t-shirt at Steinbrenner Field that had a great graphic of the Yankees, and was overlaid with Svarovski crystals. Svarovski crystals on my Yankee t-shirt?

Alyssa Milano is also trying to address this with her Touch by AM line of licensed merchandise, but it's still a problem.

As for the tech sites, I'm glad you got an apology from one of them!

Becky said...

Caryn: Glad to hear it! More companies need people -- women! -- like you, for many reasons.

Jana said...

Tech advertising is also abysmal. I stopped using godaddy after that sickening superbowl commercial two years ago. Wake up tech people - some of you are making fools of yourselves!