Walking the Web: A Review of Websites on Women and Computer Technology

by Julie M. Albright

As webmaster for a site related to Gender and Computer Technology (http://www.cpsr.org), I was interested in taking a walk on the Web to see what other sites have to offer. Gregory Bateson once said that "the map is not the territory"; on the Web, many sites claim to be territories, but end up being only maps to other sites. By "map" I mean that the site serves mainly as a virtual roadmap, pointing to other places on the Web where information on the topic of women and computing can be found. By "territory" I mean a place offering actual content or information, more than merely a sense of direction, perhaps by including archives of papers related to the topic, news clippings, and a clear position or "voice."

The Ada Project
URL: http://www.cs.yale.edu/HTML/YALE/CS/HyPlans/tap/tap.html
Developed/Maintained by: Elisabeth Freeman and Susanne Hupfer, Yale University.
Last updated: 1/1/97
Date of review: 1/14/1997

The first site, "The Ada Project," is a very slick territory, containing much useful information for the beginning student or more advanced researcher. Created in 1994 at Yale University, the Ada Project (or "TAP") is now an official site of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Committee on the Status of Women in Computing. The authors' mission is for the site to serve as a "clearinghouse for information related to women and computing."; To this end, the site contains a wide variety of topic areas, from a "media watch" with reviews and articles related to women and computing, to information on a project aimed at getting girls interested in technological careers, to conference and grant information. The site also contains several bibliographies of academic work on women and technology, although most of these papers are not hyperlinked. Overall, it is a well-maintained and well-presented destination on the Web.

Webster's Network
URL: http://lucien.berkeley.edu/women_in_it.html
Developed/Maintained by: Jerome McDonough
Last updated: Unknown
Date of Review: 3/2/97

The Webster's Network resembles less a fold-out city map and more one of those fat, glossy guidebooks that provide you with fascinating tidbits about points of interest and "must-sees" for the tourist visiting a new town. For the visitor to the Web, especially helpful are the "mini review" of sites accompanying each link, which can help you to both focus your search and avoid many unintended wrong turns or dead ends. A few of the categories covered here are: Bibliographies, Women's Status in CS & IT, and Organizations for Women on the Web. There are also links to jobs and funding sources that could be potentially useful. Overall, the Webster's Network is one of the better sites out there, if you are looking for a more detailed "map" to actually help you get your Web bearings in the area of Women and Computer Technology.

WITI - Women in Technology
URL: http://www.witi.com
Developed/Maintained by: Carolyn Leighton
Last updated: 2/26/97

WITI has been intentionally set up as a territory site on the Web, even calling itself a "campus." A stroll on this virtual campus makes WITI's activist mission clear: increasing the number of women hired and promoted to information technology management and executive level positions. Part of this mission includes "helping women to become more financially independent and technology-literate" and "encouraging young women to choose careers in technology and science." To this end, the WITI site contains frequently updated news reports on women and technology, a networking area (similar to the one at TAP), and a virtual job fair. Overall, it is a well-presented site, although in some areas the links provided are only tangentially related to the topic.

Many other excellent sites are worth mentioning, including the femina site (http://www.femina.com), which has a "Computers and Science"; cluster offering an array of connecting links on women and computer technology. Ellen Spertus' site(http://www.ai.mit.edu/people/ellens/Gender/wom_and_min.html") serves as a repository for many of her excellent papers and provides links to other seminal works in this area, plus links to resources on women of color and computing, an important and understudied area. Probably the most comprehensive of these sites is that of the University of Wisconsin's Women's Studies Librarian's office, which features a substantial bibliography (Information Technology and Women's Lives) of literally hundreds of books and articles pertaining to topics such as women and computer technology, computer science and education, and mentoring to help women and girls get involved with computing and the Internet.

I hope this review will provide a preliminary roadmap to begin your walk on the Web and interest you in visiting these and other sites along the way.

[Julie Albright is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at University of Southern California and is interested in the social implications of computer technology. Her Web address is: http://www-scf.usc.edu/~albright]

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