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The Gender of Computers

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An English teacher was explaining to his students the concept of gender association in the English language. He stated how hurricanes at one time were given feminine names and how ships and planes were usually referred to as “she.” One of the students raised her hand and asked “What ‘gender’ is a computer?” The teacher wasn’t certain which it was, so he divided the class into two groups, males in one, females in the other, and asked them to decide if a computer should be masculine or feminine. Both groups were asked to give four reasons for their recommendation.

The group of women concluded that computers should be referred to in the masculine gender because:

  1. In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on.
  2. They have a lot of data but are still clueless.
  3. They are supposed to help you solve your problems, but half the time they are the problem.
  4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have had a better model.

The men, on the other hand, decided that computers should definitely be referred to in the feminine gender because:

  1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic.
  2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else.
  3. Even your smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for later retrieval.
  4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

This page was last modified on Wednesday, January 26, 2011.