Gender in the design of the digital city of Amsterdam

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Abstract

This chapter analyses the social shaping of the Digital City of Amsterdam – ‘De Digitale Stad’ (DDS) – from a gender perspective. It aims to contribute to an understanding of the overwhelming dominance (more than 90 per cent) of male DDS users, a fact which is more than surprising given that the designers had high ideals about making the Internet accessible to a wider public. The analysis is rooted in the social constructivist tradition in technology studies. As such, it analyses technology as a product of social, political and cultural negotiations among designers, policy-makers and other social groups. The concept of ‘genderscript’ is used to examine the gender relations embedded in the design of DDS. In our analysis we show that the design process was gendered at three levels: the structural, the symbolical and the identity level. As the design-process was highly informal and no conscious attempt was made to focus on specific user-groups, the designers unconsciously projected their own masculine-biased interests on the future user. Thus they affected the choices concerning the goals, content and interface of DDS, providing it with a masculine genderscript.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVirtual Gender
Subtitle of host publicationTechnology, Consumption and Identity Matters
EditorsEileen Green, Alison Adam
Place of PublicationLondon and New York
PublisherRoutledge
Pages241-263
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780203977019
ISBN (Print)0-415-23315-1, 0-415-23314-3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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