Institute for Gender Studies,Ochanomizu University

Judy Wajcman

Professor, Australian National University
Visiting Professor at the Institute for Gender Studies, Ochanomizu University (9-11/2006)

The 21st IGS Evening Seminar Series

Gender and the Politics of Technoscience


October 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th(Tuesdays) and November 9th (Thursday) 2006


Judy Wajcman
Professor, Australian National University
Visiting Professor at the Institute for Gender Studies, Ochanomizu University


Judy Wajceman

The Institute for Gender Studies (IGS) is pleased to announce that Professor Judy Wajcman from Australian National University will be hosted as our Visiting Professor from September to November 2006. On this occasion, IGS will organize its 21st evening seminar series, inviting Professor Wajcman as its lecturer. The seminar series is entitled “Gender and Politics of Technoscience.”

Professor Wajcman is currently affiliated with Australian National University. She has been a visiting scholar at the Gender Institute at the London School of Economics and is an associate of the Oxford University. The research field of Professor Wajcman is sociology and she has been one of the leading scholars of gender studies with a special focus on technology.

Professor Wajcman has published numerous articles and books. Since the publication of the co-authored book, The Social Shaping of Technology (1985), she has been engaged to a greater extent in the research of feminism and technology. More recently, she has published Feminism Confronts Technology (1991) and TechnoFeminism (2004). Professor Wajcman has also been focusing on transformation of men-women relationships and their identities brought by changes in technology and labor markets. These studies have resulted in the publication of Managing Like a Man: Women and Men and in Corporate Management (1998), and most recently, The Politics of Working Life (co-authored, 2005).

In evening seminars, Professor Wajcman will discuss gender and technology. Her research and lecture topics should interest those in the fields of social science, humanities, science and technology. Evening seminars are open to public. Both academics and non-academics are all welcome to the IGS evening seminars.


  • The 21st Evening Seminar Organizing Committee
    TACHI Kaoru, OGAWA Mariko, TSUGE Azumi, SHIIO Ichiro, TAKAHASHI Sakino,
  • Secretariat HAYASHI Natsuko, KISHINO Sachiko, IIDA Nobuhik


1st seminar
Oct 3 (Tue)
Gender and the Politics of Technoscience
(International Christian University)
(Ochanomizu University)
2nd seminar
Oct 10 (Tue)
The Social Shaping of Technology
(Kogakuin University)
MIMURA Kyoko (Ochanomizu University Graduate Student; COE Research Fellow)
TSUGE Azumi (Meiji Gakuin University; IGS Adjunct Faculty)
3rd seminar
Oct 17 (Tue)
Technology, Work and Masculinity
OGURA Toshimaru
(Toyama University)
(COE PD Research Fellow)
(Ochanomizu University)
4th seminar
Oct 24 (Tue)
Computer Culture:
Living in Cyberspace
CHIDA Mariko (Ochanomizu University Graduate Student)
NEMURA Naomi (Nihon University;
COE Adjunct Researcher)
5th seminar
Nov 9 (Thu)
Expertise and Agency in a Wireless World
(Translator; IGS Research Fellow; COE Research Fellow)
(Ochanomizu University)


Seminar Overview by Judy Wajcman

My evening seminars will examine the social shaping of technology and the way technology both materialises and reconfigures gender divisions and inequalities. The central argument is that ideas about and practices of gender inform the design, production and use of information and communication technologies, and that in turn, technical artefacts and culture are integral to the formation of gender identity. Technologies embody and advance political interests and agendas and they are the product of social structure, culture, values, and politics as much as the result of objective scientific discovery.

The seminar will thus begin by looking at critiques of technological determinism and how the field of science and technology studies developed. This will involve reviewing theoretical debates as well as substantive areas of technology. It will then consider the gender relations of information and communication technologies, canvassing both pessimistic and optimistic perspectives. For example, an issue to be explored is how technology and technical expertise came to be so closely identified with masculinity. The marginalisation of women from technically-oriented work has traditionally led to much pessimism in feminist analyses of technology. Information and communication technologies, however, have evoked much more optimism. Diverse feminist theories such as cyberfeminism and cyborg feminism will be evaluated, particularly the claim that digital technologies are inherently liberating. I will argue that a critical weakness of this literature is its leaning towards technological determinism. The series will conclude by presenting Technofeminism as the alternative, which emphasises the mutual shaping of gender and technologies, with feminist politics situated firmly at its centre.

Overall, the seminar will offer a conceptual grounding in diverse approaches to feminist social studies of information and communications technologies. It will provide an appropriate theoretical framework and scholarly tools for detailed empirical investigation of the complex forces shaping technology and our relationships to it. This will necessarily involve a multidisciplinary approach as both gender studies and science and technology studies (STS) draw on history, sociology, cultural and communication studies, political theory, law, economics, and science studies. In this sense, the course provides students with a paradigm of the way an analysis of gender and technology requires interdisciplinary skills.


Seminar 1: October 3, Tuesday 18:30-20:45
Introduction: Gender and the Politics of Technoscience

Feminists have long been ambivalent about the impact of technology on women’s lives, torn between utopian and dystopian visions of what the future may hold. The same technological innovations have been categorically rejected as oppressive to women and uncritically embraced as inherently liberating. This lecture will provide an overview of perspectives in this area, where feminism confronts technology. Drawing on both the sociology of technology and gender theory, I will make the case for building a feminist perspective into social science debates about technology. I will argue that artefacts are themselves shaped by gender relations, meanings and identities. From refrigerators to contraceptives, from houses, cars and cities to word processors and weapons, hierarchies of sexual difference profoundly affect the design, development and use of technologies we often take for granted. My overall argument is that social science needs to continually engage with the process of technological change, as it is a key aspect of gender power relations.


'Male Designs on Technology', Chapter 1: in Judy Wajcman (2004) TechnoFeminism, Cambridge: Polity Press.


Seminar 2: October 10, Tuesday 18:30-20:45
The Social Shaping of Technology

The lecture examines the central problem of technological determinism in detail and foreshadows some of the other issues in this lecture series, including the role of technological determinism in much discussion of the Information Technology (IT) ‘revolution’. A core argument of technological determinism is that technology drives change, like a motor or a ‘prime mover’. It is often just called ‘progress’. Technological determinism contains a partial truth. Technology matters. It matters not just to the material condition of our lives and our biological and physical environment, but to the way we live together socially. However, this theory fails to recognise that the most significant changes are brought about by political and economic decisions in corporations and governments, and by social movements. That is, people ‘make’ history, not technology, nor only in intended ways - plans backfire, change and conflicts are unpredictable. Social and political processes are involved in the design and development of any technology.


L. Winner 'Do Artifacts have Politics?' in Donald MacKenzie and Judy Wajcman (eds) (1985 and 1999) The Social Shaping of Technology: Second Edition, Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Introductory essays in Donald MacKenzie and Judy Wajcman (eds) (1985 and 1999) The Social Shaping of Technology: Second Edition, Milton Keynes: Open University Press.


Seminar 3: October 17, Tuesday 18:30-20:45
Technology, Work and Masculinity

Gender divisions in labour markets, based on the horizontal and vertical segregation of jobs, is a well-documented phenomenon in many countries. When we think about jobs, they often carry gender assumptions about the characteristics of the ideal worker. A central theme in this literature has been on how the social construction of technologies has influenced occupational and organisational gender segregation. This has been a central concern of feminist scholars who have traced the long and complex history of women’s limited participation in science and technology. This lecture will explore how ‘male machines rather than female fabrics’ became the modern markers of technology. It will examine the role of technology in producing and perpetuating occupational segregation by sex in the workplace. A central theme will be the enduring connection between technological know-how and skills and masculinity.


'The Technology of Production: Making a Job of Gender', Chapter 2, Feminism Confronts Technology (1991) Cambridge: Polity Press.

C. Cockburn 'The Material of Male Power' in Donald MacKenzie and Judy Wajcman (eds) op.cit/above. Fuller version: (1983) Brothers: Male Dominance and Technological Change, Pluto Press.


Seminar 4: October 24, Tuesday 18:30-20:45
Computer Culture: Living in Cyberspace

In recent years, developments in information and communication technologies have led some post-modern feminists to argue that the digital revolution heralds the decline of traditional institutional practices and power bases—including patriarchal power. The virtuality of cyberspace is seen to spell the end of naturalised, biological embodiment as the basis for gender difference. The Internet is expressive of female ways of being and, thereby, creates manifold opportunities for changing the woman-machine relationship. Technology itself is seen as liberating women. Cyberfeminism represents one such theoretical position, emphasising subjectivity and agency, and generating a utopian perspective. The mobile phone is now also attracting attention for its capacity to disrupt boundaries between home and work, and the public and private spheres. This lecture will examine the implications of these new media technologies for the politics of communication and the politics of time and space.


Sherry Turkle, The Second Self, (1984 and 2005) Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

'Virtual Gender', Chapter 3: in Judy Wajcman (2004) TechnoFeminism, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Seminar 5: November 9, Thursday 18:30-20:45
TechnoFeminism: Expertise and Agency in a Wireless World.

This last lecture will look in detail at how the social studies of technoscience currently conceive of the relationship between technology and society. Technology is now understood as part of the social fabric that holds society together; it is never merely technical or social. Rather, technology is always a sociomaterial product - a seamless web or network combining artefacts, people, organisations, cultural meanings and knowledge. It follows that technological change is a contingent and heterogeneous process in which technology and society are mutually constituted. In line with this perspective, an emerging technofeminism conceives of a mutually shaping relationship between gender and technology, in which technology is both a source and consequence of gender relations. In other words, gender relations can be thought of as materialised in technology, and masculinity and femininity in turn acquire their meaning and character through their enrolment and embeddedness in working machines. Such an approach shares the constructivist conception of technology as a sociotechnical network, and recognises the need to integrate the material, discursive and social elements of technoscientific practice. If society is co-produced with technology, it is imperative to explore the effects of gender power relations on design and innovation, as well as the impact of technological change on the sexes.


'Metaphor and Materiality' Chapter 5: in Judy Wajcman (2004) TechnoFeminism, Cambridge: Polity Press.

**Recommended Web site**
Best Web site for readings on women and technology:

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Institute for Gender Studies,Ochanomizu University
2-1-1 Ohtsuka, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-8610, Japan
Phone: 81-3-5978-5846 Fax: 81-3-5978-5845