March 4, 2011

"Women want tools; men want toys"


In San Francisco last week, 175 women met under the auspices of the Exceptional Women in Publishing conference to discuss “publishing, technology and the female brain,” and specifically, their concern that “women will not fully embrace the new technology, affecting the future of publishing.”

According to a San Francisco Chronicle report by Lois Kasakoff, conference co-chairs Thea Selby and Claudia Smukler summarized the problem thusly: “Women want tools; men want toys.”

In itself, an inspired — and thought-provoking — observation. Unfortunately, Kasakoff goes no further in analyzing it, let alone covering what was actually said at the conference. She does make one other perceptive observation:

Female strengths — communication, multitasking — would suggest that women should play key roles in shaping this rapidly evolving media technology. But women are scarce in the technology world and virtually absent from the board rooms of technology companies. New publishing technology that doesn’t work for women will affect the market for media and our culture.

But again, there’s no information about what was said about this at the conference. There’s actually no coverage of the conference at all.

Which illustrates another problem ….

You can, however, read more about the event at the organization’s website.

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.