Website as Worksite: Reordering and Restructuring Social Relationships Through the Information Technology Management (ITM) Program

John Willinsky <>
Centre for the Study of Curriculum and Instruction
Faculty of Education
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4

Vivian Forssman <>
Knowledge Architecture Inc.
1661 Duranleau St.
Vancouver, BC V6H 3S3

It is the end of the school year in North America; the summer sun is beckoning students out of the classroom and onto the lawns and beaches of the continent. It is that annual time redolent with the warm winds of both relief and anticipation. Another year of growing-up experiences, learning and connections chalked up with youthful new wisdom and nostalgia to further ripen with time. But this 1995-1996 school year has been different. The connections that were made in schools this year extended far beyond the traditional gossip at locker row. This was the Year of Internet Connectivity for many schools. A certain amount of that hot air of anticipation is blowing about this Big New Thing. While there is always a degree of hype, there is a hard-won interest in reckoning with the tactical challenges and learning values that this new medium brings to the classroom, with its power to finally take us out of the classroom and into new models of how we see ourselves as learners.

At educational technology conferences held over the past 6 months in Vancouver and Toronto, in Portland, Minneapolis and Fort Lauderdale, educators and their students have been exuberantly showcasing Web sites they have developed, while discussing the learning opportunities and new communities they are creating, hinting at the possibilities for real structural change in our schools. Based on the many sessions attended, we are delighted to report that it appears that high school students are leading adults in making connections through the Internet. But the next stages of Internet learning are ones that need serious attention and further definition. We require a pedagogy that reflects the powerful new dynamics of students and teachers working together as equals in online communities. We need institutional mechanisms and assessment processes that support students performing authentic real-life, on-line work (no oxymoron intended!). We need to inform the curriculum with information literacy standards that include processes for online research, interpretation and evaluation of information on the Internet. And if we are to become so dependent on this brave new World Wide Web, we had better have stable information technology environments with cost-effective means to support the computers and networks that this kind of access to information demands. Without compromise, we need to overcome the gender and social inequities that currently exist in this milieu, anticipate the cultural consequences of both "microserf" working environments and Microsoft hegemony, and temper technology by putting the emphasis on what people have made of machines, rather than asking what the machines have made of us. There is no shortage of prophets pointing to the profound changes that this technology has wrought. Educator Neil Postman warns that "it is not always clear, at least in the early stages of a technology's intrusion into a culture who will gain most by it and who will lose most."[1] I think it is clear. Physicist Ursula Franklin finds herself "overawed by the way in which technology has acted to reorder and restructure social relations.[2] The order and structure of social relations result from the uses to which technology has been put and is not an act of overawing technologies. Real life, or RL as MUD-sters name it, goes on and technologies do not so much create new spaces as render them quicker, brighter, bigger, and noisier. Thus, in schools, this demands a far more deliberate and focused effort to turn the machines away from reproducing the world of those who would direct the technologies to a world where technology supports real learning opportunities.

We have been interested in how traditional models in schools are changing with the proliferation of information technology and access to learning resources on the Internet. We have focused some of our research on a readily available paradigm: the differences in information technology comfort and adoption between boys and girls, as a means of considering the performative possibilities afforded by technology in the school. This paper considers the basis for alternative lessons in Information Technology, and by extension the use of the Internet, in the belief that schools hold in the name of education, a responsibility to examine what they ask students to perform and become.

Not so long ago, the controversy over the gendered divisions of technology in the schools was about who hammered together a step-stool in industrial arts or who sewed an apron in home economics. That great gender frontier has since been bridged with coed classes in both areas, while the educational focus on technology has grown to encompass the far more academically respectable areas of computer studies and Information Technology. While technology has yet to achieve the academic status of physics or mathematics, it does seem clear that where, during the 1950s and 1960s, the sciences were seen as key to the West's Cold-War strategy, technology has now become the great white hope of the New World Order.

Earlier this year, President Clinton helped volunteers lay an Internet link to a California high school. "We are putting the future at the fingertips of your children," he solemnly declared to the gathered crowd, "and we are doing it in the best American tradition."[3] Where once President Kennedy pledged to place a man on the moon in the ideological space-race against the Soviet Union, this President has committed himself to connecting every school in the nation to the Internet by the turn of the century through a partnership of volunteers and corporate sponsors that is intended to place America at the forefront of the age of information.

Now that Information Technology is the highway to the future, concern has arisen over how few young women are drawn to this field of study and work, a concern shared by education and business, by those committed to equity issues and those bent on tapping human resources and retail markets. The news on this year's Take Our Daughter to Work Day (April 25th) was that 50 homeless girls in New York City were given the opportunity to surf the World Wide Web. One can't help feeling that something more has still to be done, and whether one puts it down to expediency or opportunism, one way of affecting change in education is to play on existing energies. It seems only fair to expose this great educational interest in technology to alternatives concerned with making a difference in the ordering and structuring both gender relations, and ultimately interpersonal relations in the schools.

To better understand how to bring this technology world into positive focus for all students, we have looked at the restructuring of gender relations for students taking part in the Information Technology Management (ITM) program which John Willinsky and I are in the midst of developing in a business-academic partnership. My career has been in the "mythical man-month" world of the Information Technology industry, working for systems integrators and telecommunication providers. I started Knowledge Architecture as an educational services company that, rather than waiting for new technologies to change the classroom, seeks to change how students work with technology and thus prepares them for the project-based deadline-driven realities of information technology and knowledge work. John and I are from different sides of the street. John labors over the theory and data-gathering surrounding the application of technology in schools while I keep connections alive with the technology sector, seeking to refine, interpret and inform learning activities for students with skills demanded by emerging high technology companies. We share a common pursuit, to return to Ursula Franklin's phrase, of reordering and restructuring the social relations of technology in the schools.

While we attempt to define and hopefully contribute to the broad issues mentioned here, at Knowledge Architecture, we are concentrating our efforts on using the Internet as a worksite for collaborative knowledge building. The Information Technology Management (ITM) program is designed for high school students who not only want to learn on the Net, but who act as technical architects, performing services as "roadcrew for the information highway" preparing them for job opportunities in the IT workplace. ITM has been developed and piloted for the past two years as a replacement for the traditional computer studies curriculum. The program is piloting the use of the Internet to deliver its just-in-time content to students who have the responsibility of providing technical support for their school computing environments. The main Internet feature of ITM is the recently introduced website Studio A. Defined as a Website as Worksite, students in the ITM program or in other IT courses subscribe to the content and collaboration activities presented in this online domain. Studio A is designed to support student learning through service and support to others and demonstrates a packaging of resources for making the Internet a site of active learning that includes distributed student-authored content development and active mentoring forums with IT industry professionals. The aim of this Website/Worksite is to shift the use of the WWW from an arena for browsing, surfing and marketing hype to one that provides an engaging and useful domain to work, create, connect and provide services to clients.

Studio A features curriculum resources for teachers and strategies for teaching and evaluating students in an authentic project-based environment, where information technology is used as a tool for solving problems. It facilitates teachers connecting with other teachers and with ITM mentors who bring industry-standard project management approaches into the classroom. Studio A offers students a personalized workspace, called ProjectBook where they can prepare proposals, track and manage projects, and create portfolios for teacher assessment of their progress. The teachers also possess their own workspace for managing student portfolios and directing student project teams and the types of work they undertake. ITM students use WorkBench as a resource for specification templates, software and network engineering tools and "HelpDesk" processes to assist them in delivering services to their school community. The students themselves have created a gallery for showplacing their work. Cafe News and Schmooze connects students with others in the ITM program across North America, as well as with industry mentors who provide both technical expertise and career guidance. Consistent with providing services in a knowledge economy, Studio A provides students with Just-in-Time learning to support them in acquiring skills and knowledge "to get help, to get good, or to get credentials" through online training provided by Knowledge Architecture and third party products in computer-based training. Students play a big role in maintaining and developing aspects of Studio A, from moderating newsgroups to developing hyperlinks to relevant educational sites to participating in actual content development.

The ITM program represents a new educational paradigm insofar as it equips students with the skills and on-line tools to service the technology needs of the school and community. The program is intended to act as an implementation agent for affecting a radical change in how students learn through service to the educational community, using an array of technology resources, Internet-accessible information and industry-standard project management techniques. The realities of the contemporary workplace include contracted techno-project work where teams are assembled for a period of one month to one year to design, develop and deliver a technology-based product or project. New entrants to cyberwork need to know what will be expected of them on a project team, how to read a Gantt chart, how to build both a prototype and a quality assurance plan for whatever they are working on, and perhaps most importantly how to effectively communicate what they are doing as they become the purveyors and providers of technical services to increasingly technology-demanding clients.

ITM students are learning how to rise to these challenges by performing real work for real clients. They have developed Web sites for senior citizens which capture a community's history. ITM students provide critical support of school computers and networks for their high schools and for feeder elementary schools. They have managed conferences for student IT and Internet projects; taught formal courses to mothers in the community on how to use the Internet and build HTML documents; and created indexes to Internet connections among provincial schools, to cite just a few examples. As Studio A becomes an active collaboration tool, we expect that projects will begin to incorporate the skills of ITM students who are in schools in Ontario, but who wish to connect with a project in say, Oregon or Arizona.

The ITM program is in various levels of implementation and piloting in 40 high schools in the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario, ranging from a full-year Grade 12 course to an informal extra-curricular club. Two of the schools are in the second year of the program, while the rest are in their first year of implementation. As we attempt to define the learning possibilities of collaborative online work that supports authentic delivery of technology services, we note with concern that thus far, ITM has not attracted anything close to an equal number of girls to the program. There are a number of schools with no girls in the ITM class, with most having two to three girls, and one with 10 girls in a grade 10/11 class of 26. We conducted reviewed the literature on gender issues and surfed the Net to better understand elements that would encourage girls, as part of our commitment to developing a program that speaks to a broad community of participants.

Computers and kids have been largely defined by the games that have been developed and fervently taken up by boys, games which tend to leave young women cold. (Microsoft is currently showing a video at computer conferences in which an eight-year-old boy says that girls should get more violent so that they can really play computer games.) The solution, as it is commonly cast, is to develop games that attract young women with the perhaps dubious intent that girls represent an untapped market that can be fostered under the banner of gender equity. To take one example, Her Interactive, a division of Laser Games Inc., has developed a game for young women aimed at capturing some part of the 43 billion dollars that "teen girls" have been identified as spending each year. Laser Games claims to be responding to "teachers [who] want software to keep girls enthusiastic about computers." To meet this market, Laser Games has produced McKenzie & Co., an adventure game which promises that "The Ultimate Prom Experience is yours with the hottest CD-ROM game ever." The player reports are enthusiastic: "I found myself feeling like a computer nerd because I wanted to play so often." The letters attest to how grateful that young women and their parents are that, finally, there is a game for them for the "the first and only girl type computer game we have found." Where once, a young women might have said that "the whole technology thing just didn't appeal to me," she can now say, as one did in writing to Her Interactive, that "now I can actually get into this 20th century computer stuff... and like it." The larger question remains, however, is how do we make computers something more than a game for the young, and are there content opportunities that provide real engagement without reinforcing the narrow range of gender performances that Mackenize & Co. and Doom feed.

A second way forward is to look, as most everyone is, to the Web. While Laser Games has brought out a companion net-site, Her OnLine, for its girls' game, Mackenzie & Co., a more radical guide to crashing the boy's club comes in Carla Sinclair's web-manifesto/whole-grrrl guidebook to the Internet, Net Chick: "So wait not, fair grrrlie," insists Sinclair in the forward, "Hie thee to a modem connection and thine ass online! This ain't a passing fad; this techno stuff is real, and, in case you haven't heard from Madge, you're soaking in it."[6] While pointing to the 40% female membership in Prodigy and Online Internet access services, Sinclair allows that the web is still home to the patriarchal order, comparing it to the Wild West and quoting Rosie Cross on its domination by "boring conservative righteous sexist bloody men who really need to get a life" (p. xi). But against such bores, she stakes her claim to this wired world, declaring it nothing less than the natural domain of: "The root forces driving this medium-communication, community, and creativity-are inherently feminine. They are things women innately excel at. Plainly put, this means we were built to do this" (p. xi). This feminine essentialism-biology is (computing) destiny-is bound to alarm postmodernists, but the point is that we do not need to find women's (true) ways of computing to move it out of the boy's club, we just need other ways of working with machines and that, too, is what Net Chicks is about.[7]

Electronic games and Web sites that speak to and for women do create alternative spaces within these new technological realms. Yet they only begin to speak to other ways of working with information technology, as variations on the masculine themes.[8] I am obviously inclined, given this work on the ITM program, to argue for something more than creating a safe-house in which girls can work comfortably with computers or developing software that draws girls into the computing marketplace.

We need to learn from the girls' examples and think about ways of working with computers that is not an end in itself, whether that end be mock-destructive or constructive. Technology increasingly defines how we connect with the world and with others, and the nature of those connections needs to be considered in any educational approach to computers that seeks to move beyond adventure-gaming, and build on what we have learned from science and technology education on how increasing the sense of the social relevance and responsibility of the disciplines engages a wider range of students. As one response to this call, the ITM program introduces structures that place the student in a position to support the technological resources of the school as a learning environment. It is still not enough but it is a start.

We conducted interviews with ITM students to better understand the social patterns that exist in order to improve the program's attraction to girls. The interviews were conducted by Diane Hodges and Blane Després, researchers from the University of B.C. Faculty of Education. The interviews included three girls and four boys at a school situated in the outskirts of Vancouver, in its second year of program implementation. The school offers a wide array of courses in computers, from graphics to advanced programming. The boys were in a grade 10/11 ITM class, taught by a woman with a Master's degree in Computer Science. There were two girls and twenty boys in the class.

The interviewed boys spoke readily of the masculine bond with machines. David drew an analogy with auto mechanics-"you know how there are never any girls in mechanics classes"-and Frank based it on the use of the machines to play such manly games as Doom:

I think that just in general nature guys get on computers more because they like to play Doom more and you see a lot more guys playing video games, and I think computers is just, you know, just another way of playing video games and they just get hooked.

This element of addiction, which forms an apt characterization of gaming culture, at least allows that there could well be other, more salutary, ways of working with machines. Paul also referred to boys and games, while his suggestion that computers had other uses introduced a rather vocationally limited vision of women's computing:

Like, at work, if girls need to use it, they will use it for word processing and everything. But I don't think they go out of their way to use it, to, like, go and play games because ... most games, for one, were made with a male attitude behind [them]. But quite a few of the secretaries use computers to do word processing and ... all sorts of programs for businesses, accounting and stuff like that.

The boys were not phased by the questions on gender. They understand that it is an issue. Frank did note an element of change in the school that year, which he put into daunting perspective:

One of the things I found interesting, this year for the first time, I heard a girl say that she wanted to go into computers, and I've never, I mean its just not something that girls generally want to do. I don't know why that is, but they just generally don't really want that, you know.

Among the girls interviewed, Sarah also pointed to the mechanical aptitude of boys in explaining their greater interest in computers:

They like to break them down, see ... how they function and everything. Like, they go way more in-depth with computers than girls do.

Natasha, on the other hand, felt that there was an element of self-fulfilling prophecy to it all:

They are stereotyped knowing more and more, so they ... try and fulfill it, I think, something like that.

Both Sarah and Natasha identified how girls tend to take an instrumental approach to computers: "Girls will, like, just do ... a project or something on a computer and that's it," was how Sarah put it. For Natasha, the issue was also one of girls seeking relevant applications for computing: "I think girls would be more interested in it if there was ... computer programs and stuff that dealt with ... everyday things, not just programming. Like, if it has to do with our lives ... to help run them or something, I think we'd probably use them." There is not the same investment in the machines as an end and pleasure in themselves, or as a means of taking control over part of the world.

Yet Natasha and Sarah recognized that, despite this difference in interest, there persists a pressure to get with the technology: "I think its important that more kids should [take computers] because the whole future is based on technology," Sarah put it, "and if they don't know it, then they are not going to get anywhere." Natasha, however, countered that, "I don't think they need to be encouraged that much because they know what's out there, and if they need it or not. So, it's up to them." Sarah certainly felt pressured to become more involved with technology: "I think it would be in my best interest to [take further technology courses], but I don't know if I will or not."

When Candice was asked why she decided to take ITM rather than one of the other computer courses, she made reference to "that independent thing ... where you learn on your own." This was key to the program for her: "Learning about how to develop your own type of program ... instead of just learning about one thing one day and then changing to another one, so that was the most positive thing for me."

In accounting for why he thought that ITM might appeal to young women, Paul pointed to how ITM "doesn't even have to be a computer class; it's a management class more than anything else; you don't even have to know computers to be in it." It follows that the girls in the program will need to rattle the type-casting by taking on different roles within the ITM teams, from project manager to systems architect. Paul's own interest in having young women study Information Technology was based on the contribution which he felt women could make to the industry:

I think that there should be [more girls taking technology courses] because if you look at our computer industry right now ... almost everyone is male, and women give a different outlook. And I feel that the more people, the more that come into the field, then the more it diversifies.

David was unsure of how to make the classes more interesting for girls, but he "definitely" supported the idea, when it was posed to him, of running an all-girl computer class. He pointed, in defense of the idea, to the lack of respect which young women receive in such manly subjects, as computer studies. This is an important point that counters the focus on girls' lack of interest. Aaron expanded on the negative reception: "Right now it's a pretty hostile environment. It's not like the best place for girls to be. Some of the people in there are just crude when it comes to girls." While that is troubling enough, the hostile boys he is referring to are, presumably, in the girls' other classes, leaving us to imagine that they feel a particular license for crudity in the presence of machines as demarcating a man's world and as no place for a lady. A note of regret entered Aaron's comments about this harassment, and he spoke of taking "one graphics course [which] was like half girls; it was the best year of my life."

David and Aaron's discussed the emphasis on deadlines in the program: "It makes it like a job. You have to meet the deadline," Aaron said, putting it in terms of marks: "Last year, you just had to show up, and this year you have to make the deadline, like I said." David added, "If you don't meet the deadlines, basically, you let everybody down in the class." He went on to explain, "It's like a bunch of different groups and everybody knows what everybody is doing and all the different groups are doing different things. There is usually about five or six people in each group." The considerable coordination of the teams is handled through a special project management software used in industry: "It's all done through MS-Project," David pointed out , "You know exactly what you plan is, how long its going to go on for, when you plan on having it done."

ITM's focus on team work and management also figured in Frank's discussion of his role in the class: "I find that the ITM course is good because I get to pursue what I want and I am, right now I'm more in a managerial role than in learning the technical stuff or doing anything like that. I feel that it's beneficial." Frank went on draw its relation to the world of work: "It teaches you how to take initiative or lets you learn how to take initiative and how to take things into your own hands and its more realistic for the world as opposed to just sitting down and listening." There is that subtle shift in his position, between "it teaches you," to "lets you learn how," which captures the element of independent learning in the program. What the ITM program provided and called for was a coordinated effort among the people providing services to the school and community: "Organization has been one that has been emphasized quite a bit," Frank explained, "I guess more of, for me, due to my style."

I am struck by how team-work did not figure in the girls' comments, while two of them mentioned the importance of independent learning. This, in conjunction with the boy's comments about the sometimes hostile atmosphere for girls, suggests that much still has to be done to create a more cooperative atmosphere.

Given the students' experiences in the ITM program, we can see that much more needs to done if this experiment is to have a significant impact on the gendered ethos that surrounds technology in the schools and in turn contribute to the real building of colaborative communities that include both boys and girls. The program has begun to alter the ways, I think it fair to say, in which the students see learning and the ways in which they relate to their classmates and the school at large. They are exploring new ways in which to perform around technology, with the guidance to see technology both as an engineering phenomena and as an enabler to connect people and solve problems. These students' comments do speak to the pedagogical possibilities of putting the question of gender on the table, beginning with their own observations, much of what is under discussion in the literature.

For this program to place its focus on providing services to the school and community is not going to be enough, this preliminary inquiry suggests. It presents a serious challenge to the gender stereotyping long associated with technology and thus presents the deeper issue of developing programs that engage a broader cross-section of students. We are not surprised to see the stereotypes that exist in the adult world replicated in the school. We will need to work further with ITM teachers and students to make sure that what has been made of gender and technology up to now forms part of what gets openly discussed and explored in ITM classes as itself a way of changing how students think about the place and space of technology.

ITM may alter the way students work with people, with technology and with online information, but that is proving to be only the half of the story. The structural changes to computer studies introduced by the ITM program are not sufficient in themselves to change the ideas which students in the program have about gender and technology, let alone the thinking of their "clients" and other members of the school community who are also intended to benefit by the program. Based on this school's second year with the program, ITM has yet to build a fully inclusive setting for students working together in supporting the learning environment of the school. It has yet to deal explicitly with the gender question in the classroom and through the history of technology. It has yet to eliminate the misogyny that besets technology classes.[9] These changes to the structures by which students work and learn in the school will lead to other changes in the school, and those human-technological consequences will need their own forms of attention as part of the ITM program. When John Dewey addressed the value of introducing forms of work (and play) into the curriculum in Democracy and Education, he was careful to warn "that while manual skill and technical efficiency are gained and immediate satisfaction found in their work, together with preparation for later usefulness, these things shall be subordinated to education-that is, to intellectual results and the forming of a socialized disposition."[10] We need to increase that intellectual and educational focus on the implications of those socialized dispositions.

Further to this critical reflection on the nature of this work, the ITM program clearly has a responsibility to make the impact of Information Technology, as the principal work enabler of the future, a component of the curriculum. Students need to see how it has led to the restructuring of our world of work, the deskilling of certain jobs, and the greater intensification of work processes. Otherwise, ITM may seem to build false expectations around what lies ahead, even as it offers students something more during their class-time than the routines of data-entry work, which appears to be the direction some schools are taking, according to the valuable critique of technology in the schools mounted by Monty Neill.[11]

This inquiry into technology's impact could well form an aspect of what students bring to the school community, creating a space for the cultural critique of technology. It needs to begin by placing the topic on the agenda for teachers who are learning about how to participate in the ITM program, and it needs to find its way into the service ethos of the students' programs. Think of it. Students who can not only fix computers in the school and community, as well as teach people about their use, and access a world of resources through the Internet, but also offer those they help, who are often somewhat apprehensive about new technology, a critique of how the technology is used, introducing both negative implications and utopian visions in seeing through technology's hold on our futures.

This paper and our program are about how we are to live with technology; it is about a greater sharing of power and the easy reversing of the roles, beginning with how teacher and student work together in school. This is an experiment in seeing through theories of gender (with the pun intended). It is about how best to bring together the voices of scholars, visionaries, industry professionals, students, and teachers to bring about alternative forms for working with technology in school and community. The program offers students practical experiences and what are known as "job-ready skills," even as it meets the more immediate needs of the school learning environment. The ITM program draws on and stands against the IT industry and computer studies; it attends to corporate models and tools, without forsaking education's utopian desire to reorder social relations and socialized dispositions. It takes on the educational challenge that the Internet now faces, even as the number of connections grows astronomically, of finding ways to provide a meaningful environment for collaboratively acquiring, assembling, critically analyzing and putting to use electronic resources as a way of preparing students for the knowledge-based service economy that now prevails. ITM is a response to that challenge and its website, Studio A, is intended to provide a project-based, service-oriented learning environment that begins to address the social dynamics of people working together either across the room or across the continent. The use of technology and Internet-based information sources as resources and new domains of the learning workplace and the working learningplace have the hot breezes of 1996 expectations. Our bigger challenges and opportunities will begin now to be defined; that is the restructuring and reordering of social relationships that build on our need for truly collaborative worksites where all students participate in the skill-building, discovery and sense of accomplishment that is offered by new communication and learning environments.


[1] Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (New York: Vintage, 1992),

[2] Ursula Franklin, The Real World of Technology (Montreal: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1990), 13.

[3] T. S. Purdum, "President Helps Schools Go On-Line," New York Times (1996, March 10): Y13.

[4] Joseph Nye Jr. and William Owens write in "America's Information Edge," Foreign Affairs 75, no. 2 (1996): 20: "America has strength in military power and economic production. Yet its more subtle comparative advantage is its ability to collect, process, act upon, and disseminate information, an edge that will almost certainly grow over the next decade. This advantage stems from Cold War investments and America's open society, thanks to which it dominates important communications and information processing technologies ... This information advantage can help deter or defeat traditional military threats at relatively low costs. In a world in which the meaning of containment, the nuclear umbrella, and conventional deterrence have changed, the information advantage can strengthen the intellectual link between U.S. foreign policy and military power and offer new ways of maintaining leadership in alliances and ad hoc coalitions."

[5] P. Flanigan, Her Interactive: A Case Study (Software Publishers Association Conference, San Francisco, 1996).

[6] Carla Sinclair, Net Chick: A Smart-Girl Guide to the Wired World (New York: Henry Holt, 1996), x.

[7] Net Chicks is complemented by its own "Net Chick Clubhouse" website ( This is not to discount more conventionally educational approaches to using the web as a distribution network for gender equity work with the curriculum. The Association for the Promotion and Advancement of Science Education runs a number of websites that which offer access to female role models drawn from science and gender equity activities in science (

[8] For women's online participation in media fandom forums that center on television programs, see Susan Clerc, "Estrogen Brigades and 'Big Tits' Threads: Media Fandom Online and Off," in Wired Women: Gender and the New Realities of Cyberspace, eds. Lynn Cherny and E. Reba Weise (Seattle, Washington: Seal, 1996), 73-97. For a treatment of female resistance to male domination of technology and sex in the underground circulation of erotic Star Trek fan-zines written by women, see Constance Penley, "Brownian Motion: Women, Tactics, and Technology," in Technoculture, eds. C. Penley and A. Ross (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991), 135-161.

[9] Bryson and de Castell point out that special policies, curricular modifications and pedagogical approaches for women often avoid dealing with the more immediate problem of misogyny ("En/gendering," 352).

[10] John Dewey, Democracy and Education (New York: Free Press, 1916), 196-197.

[11] See Montry Neill, "Computers, Thinking, and Schools in the 'New World Economic Order.'" in Resisting the Virtual Life: The Culture and Politics of Information, eds. J. Brook and I. A. Boal (San Francisco: City Lights, 1995), 181-194. He makes a number of salient point about the savage inequalities in school access to technology, in the information glut which students are ill-equipped to deal with (183, 187). Without pretending that ITM is going to be the solution to every techno-problem, the program does focus on optimizing the available resources in the school, while giving students the incentive and where-with-all to be partners in planning to improve the situation. While engaged in this real-world application using real and virtual world resources, the students are actually gaining greater control over their own education, which also forms one of Neill's concerns, directing more of their own learning and time. While we do not want to see this service component of the ITM program becoming the whole of anyone's education, it may well make a difference for how both girls and boys learn to view technology. Neill warns that "liberation is not a matter of technology but of social relations," with the first step coming out of a refusal of "the inevitability of the economy," and we would seek, tentatively and determinedly, ways of refusing the inevitability of technology's gendered economy (193).


This work is carried out in association with the TeleLearning Research Network Centres of Excellence and schools participating in Knowledge Architecture's Information Technology Management (ITM) program. We would like to express appreciation to the anonymous students who were interviewed for this project.