In the technology world, moms are like Joe the Plumber — the average person who doesn’t quite understand complicated technology, but whose approval and use are seen as signs of widespread acceptance. But what is it about pushing out a baby (or adopting one) that transforms a woman from a rational, possibly tech-savvy individual to someone who can barely navigate a web site or key in a text message?
When Mom takes up a technology, be it Twitter (check the story, not the headline), social networking, texting or even (sorry Om) wireless network cards, the inference is that the technology has moved not just out of the early adopter crowd, but into the realm of everyone. Judging by the flurry of headlines that generally follow the “My mom is on ___” stories, after Mom joins it’s time to make sure the service is simple. How simple? So simple Mom can use it!
Instead of indulging in what I’m sure would be dubbed a hormonal rage, let’s unpack the stereotype behind this particular cliché and come up with something new. For the assumption that technology is too complex for moms (but not dads) is a lazy gender stereotype, but sadly, an effective one: It discourages girls and women from taking up technology. And given the need for smart people in technology, discouraging half the population seems pretty short-sighted.
Plus, while “mom adoption” may make for a universal headline because everyone has one, basically all moms have in common is that they’re female — after all, moms can range in age from teens to centenarians (once you’re a mom, it’s not like you can give it up); education, income, location, career, etc. are all variable as well. Which brings us back to that jerkish assumption that women are bad at tech. So can we just assume that, like men, some women are into tech and some aren’t, and perhaps go pick on someone who genuinely doesn’t understand it? Like maybe Twitter’s so simple, even members of Congress are using it?