Most of us have recently seen headlines such as this one: This is not your father's gadget: Tech firms target moms. This constant Recession/Reform era re-positioning of Mom as "The CEO of This and That Domestic Role" has got me thinking about an insidious pattern of patronizing women...
Take this quote from the article above:
When families with children set out to buy a new laptop computer, for example, it is Mom, not Dad, who is more likely to initiate the discussion, the study revealed. And Mom is more likely to make the final decisions on what features to look for and how much to pay for it.
Most striking is that Mom is much more likely to use the new laptop than Dad. The survey found that 96 percent of mothers said they would make “regular use” of the device, compared to only 80 percent of fathers.
Moms use laptops? Astounding. Groundbreaking. How could we have missed such big news?
If you detect a bit of sarcasm in my tone, you got it. I have a different take on the trends. Moms buy technology because they Have to Get Stuff Done or their kids won't make it. Further:
- Moms buy computers, gaming systems, gadgets, etc., in part, to keep control over the extent to which others in the house get to use technology. They set the tone. (It may look like offense, but it is actually defense.)
- Moms buy cameras that help them get stuff done so that after work and cleaning and putting the kids to bed they get a professional result when they spend 100s of hours doing image editing and uploading shots as CEO of the "Family Memory."
- Moms conduct lots and lots of online health research because -- either separated from or disappointed by their extended families -- there is literally nowhere else to turn for quick health advice that wouldn't involve 1 hour waits, high co-pays, and time off from work. (The Library used to be handy, but they've had to trim back on evening hours due to resource constraints.)
- Moms buy and adopt technology to serve others and to feel successful about serving others. Mothering, in spite of all the media noise surrounding it, is still one tough and invisible job.
I'll leave you with this: If you are in the business of developing products for women -- or are in the business of marketing a tech product or concept to women -- spend some time going a bit deeper before you claim to have broken new ground. Ask yourself, "How does my product serve women?" Upon a closer look, you'll see that emancipating them from serving others is probably not something your tool offers, so don't package it that way. Your tool helps a woman get stuff done for the family.
Christine Kraft http://cocovillage.blogspot.com
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