Another line of analysis has been to examine the gendered nature of technology itself. Paul Edwards, for example, argues that information technology is socially constructed so as to be unfriendly to most women (281ff).xxv
Valerie Frissen suggests that the majority of the research may be painting an unnaturally bleak picture based, in part, upon adherence to overly rigid feminist theories (simplistic notions of patriarchal dominance, for example) which have resulted in a picture of women as victims. She suggests that future research needs to focus on women's positive appropriations of technology, the positive aspects of some of the differences between their experience and that of men, and more positive analyses of women's refusal to use certain technologies.
But acknowledging that Frissen may have a point still does not give us cause for optimism concerning the equitable distribution of technological knowledge. Wajcman, for example, analyses the way in which new technology advantages those who already have recognized skills. She analyses the role craft unions have played historically in limiting women's employment; when unable to exclude women entirely, they have organized in such a way as to keep them at lower wage levels (the cutbacks in women's employment post-WWII is a case in point). The existence of a large pool of cheap women's labour may also act as a disincentive on technological change: she notes that the garment industry, for example, is still substantially using nineteenth-century technology (as the recent case of the El Monte sweatshops in Los Angeles makes clear).xxvi
Women as a group can also become pawns in a process whereby investment in new technology can be used to drive overall labour costs down. Wajcman's example is the rationalization of Fleet Street where the introduction of technology in the form of computers that had standard keyboards, rather than the traditional Linotypist's keyboard, destroyed the power of the highly paid and skilled compositor by opening up the job up to the lower-wage pool of largely female typists. We have even less cause to be sanguine when, as Haraway points out, the way in which new information technologies are now making possible an economy based on "homework", or telecommuting, has the potential to be particularly oppressive for women.xxvii