Creating places for women on the internet: The design of a 'Women's Square' in a digital city

Els Rommes

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    Under what conditions do women create places for women on the Internet? And what kinds of difficulties do they meet if they try to do so? These questions are studied by comparing two groups of women involved in the design of (parts of) Amsterdam's digital city DDS. The female designers, who were involved as DDS was set up, did not want to pay attention to women's issues. This can be explained by looking at their position in feminist debates in Dutch society, their position in the organization of which they were a part and their personal identity. The second group of women, who were part of a women's organization, differed in all these respects. Thus, they had no problems in wanting to pay specific attention to women in DDS by building a 'Women's Square'. The problems of this second group of women were caused by the late stage at which they entered the design process. The ideas on gender and technology of the initial group of women had by then solidified in the script of DDS, making it hard for the second group to design the Women's Square in the way they wanted it. In this article it is argued that designers, women's organizations and subsidizing organizations should stimulate women's groups to get involved in the design of new technology at an early stage. From this case study, one can conclude that leaving women's issues to individual female designers is not an effective strategy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)401-427
    JournalEuropean journal of women's studies
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    • Design
    • Digital city
    • Exclusion
    • Gender
    • ICT
    • Internet
    • Pioneers
    • Script
    • Social inclusion
    • Women in technology
    • Women's movement

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