Chair of MA/MFA in Transdisciplinary New Media, Frédérique Krupapresented part of her doctoral research on gender, design and technology in video games for girls at the Sorbonne’s Numerique et Société 2015 conference on November 20, 2015.
Her interdisciplinary research focuses on resilience to stereotype threat*of women who work in male-dominated creative and technological fields like video game production through the prism of personality types and sex role orientation. Her results indicate that negative stereotypes of women and technology result in a homogeneity of personality types amongst these ‘technical’ women, who exhibit strong resistance to rules and norms.
Nearly half her sample were from two personality types that represent less than 4% of female high schoolers. Her thesis indicates the need to address negative gender stereotypes if we want to bring more women to the I.T. field. Krupa finds that video games for girls reinforce appearance/care-taking gender stereotypes and inadvertently reinforce the notion of women as the “other” in a masculine discipline. This construct leads to an illusion of a sex-based biological cause making women less apt for technological disciplines when, in fact, social conditioning is the culprit. The result being that for women who have less skepticism regarding norms and stereotypes technological disciplines become inconceivable. Gendered video games are an ineffectual vector for bringing more women into the role of technology producers and do little more than create female technology consumers.
*Stereotype threat is a sociological phenomenon whereby a member of a group fears that their personal performance will be seen as a confirmation of the the group’s negative stereotype, and this interference reduces their performance.