Women, Evil and Technology vs Conventional Ideas of Femininity

29 March, 2016

women and technology


The mermaid, the witch, the femme fatale (…): these are all representations of evil women or women who have subverted the conventional ideas of femininity. Kept alive in oral tradition and hidden in the unspoken rules of society, the dangerous, evil woman lives on to define what we believe a woman should be


These words belong to the overview of “Perceiving Evil: Evil, Women and the Feminine” edited by D. Farnell, R. Noiva and K. Smith in the frame of the alternative, unconventional, and multidisciplinary approach promoted by the Evil Project. This year, the Project will hold its 8th Global Meeting in Oxford (UK) on 23-25 September. Its main aim will be to analyse which was and which is the characterization of women with regard to evil. In their own words: “We are fascinated by stories of real and fictional women who perpetrate evil deeds, experience evil as victims, fight against evil and take the blame as scapegoats for evil that exists in the world”. Proposals for various forms of contributions should be summited by 22nd April 2016.

Beyond the idea of evil, it might seem that nowadays the relation of women with the technological world is almost a deviation of the conventional ideas of femininity. In many contexts, mainly in Europe and in the US, the participation of women in this field is completely minority and in some societies women are even perceived not to be “natural technologists”. However, this has not always been the case. As Sarah Murray describes in the Financial Times: “In the US and much of Western Europe in the 1980s, (…), women collected almost 40 per cent of computer science degrees. Today, however, the figure is 15 to 20 per cent”.

This article goes further with this idea and expresses: “While today’s tech superstars are mostly male, in the early days of computer programming, a woman shared the limelight”. This quote refers to Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron, who conceived algorithms that would enable Babbage’s “Analytical Engine” to conduct different tasks. She was one of the many pioneers that have influenced our current technology. In this sense, the White House recognizes her contribution in this field, and considers her as one of the most important women in Tech History.

A greater participation of women in technology as well as leadership positions will be featured in the second part of this post.

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