Do technologies have a gender? While this might seem like a strange question, there is no doubt that the technologies that suffuse our daily lives – from cars and washing machines to phones and computers – carry gendered associations that have implications for their design and use. Bringing together the history of technology with feminist theory, this class will examine how gender (along with race, class, and nationality) has shaped the design, production, and consumption of technology. We will also consider how technology itself has been used to police or alter the gendered body. Lastly, we’ll think critically about the ways in which the contributions of women in the history of technology have been obscured, and the implications of this erasure for contemporary debates about representation in STEM. Class readings include theoretical, primary, and secondary sources, and will address topics ranging from refrigeration to reproductive technology, bombs to “big data.” In addition to participation in weekly discussions, students will be expected to contribute to a class blog, where they will be tasked with drawing connections between theory, history, and gender politics in creative and interactive ways. Assessment will include a final research paper and in-class presentation.
This course is offered as a 4.5-unit seminar during the 2022-2023 year.