Reader Comment of the Week

According to an article I read recently, “feminizing technology is more about a product’s fundamentals, often expressed in its ease of use”, not to mention its aesthetic appeal. "Feminizing technology" is also about making laptops with wider spaces between the keys to account for our long finger nails, and digital cameras which have “automatic focusing at arms’ length… [because] women are fond of taking pictures of themselves.”

Overall, this article reported on how changes such as those above were a reaction to women becoming more important in tech-buying industries. Changes such as these show that marketers “are bringing a more feminine sensibility to products historically shaped by masculine tastes, habits and requirements." Annoyingly, interlaced with optimism about this changing media marketplace are chauvinistic assumptions about “female sensibilities” and habits. I will be honest: I am not the most knowledgeable tech consumer, when it comes to the techy features. To understand even the most basic interface I look to manuals (something this reporter says women don’t read) and user-friendly software. But I would never make the assumption that this is a typically female characteristic, nor would I assume that fashionable accessories would alleviate any of my confusion.

I would say that everyone, females and males alike, are busier and more reliant on technology than ever. This seems pretty obvious. We all need convergent, easy, portable, and reliable media platforms. This is not a gender-specific qualification. It seems the difference expressed by this reporter (if not the producers of the above products) is that women need easy and cutesy cameras/phones/laptops/TVs to find these “high-tech gadgets” useful.

One fashion-savvy and tech-conscious coworker of mine responded to this article by saying that she has the uncanny ability to separate fashion and media, preferring technology which is practical and reliable – not Swarovski-crystal-encrusted. I think this is a reasonable assumption to make about most women.

In my own experience, I’ve seen how marketing totally misses the mark. A few weeks ago I praised the prototype for a new laptop in this blog. The Metro is slim, it’s fast, it holds its charge for 14 hours. The point: it’s practical. In thinking about it, features like the “fashionable” strap which turns the laptops into a purse and the brightly colored wireless portfolio cover (I would still buy the black one) really annoyed me... According to a spokesperson, these are all features targeted women consumers. We like purses, but don’t want our laptops to look like one. That’s just ridiculous – not to mention dangerous to carry around in a bigger city.

So how should marketers target women? Some of you are in a difficult position because there are “girly-girls” who like cutesy phones and dummy-proof digital cameras, just like there will always be “manly-men” who want cell phones they can drive a 5 ton truck over. But in advertising, do we have to play to these stereotypes? Do we assume these will be accepted by the greater population? How can we change these ideas?

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