Gender Equality Through Technology: Two Perspectives

Posted on January 21, 2011 by


In “Feminism and Free Markets: Friends or Foes?” (published by the Heritage Foundation in 1993), Deborah Walker writes:

“There are natural differences between men and women and they manifest themselves in different ways. But I would argue that capitalism is responsible for technological advances which have changed the economic order from one in which physical strength and stamina are necessary for the production of goods to one in which they are no longer prerequisites for financial success. Women can now enter fields they could not enter earlier–remember, this is because capitalism has made possible technological progress.”

Walker’s exactly right: Early women’s liberation rode the wave of the industrial revolution and has since scaled the steps of scientific and technological innovation. With every new tool produced by the dynamic market, women are freed a little more from the limitations of their biology. We may have been born the gentler sex; but with machinery, technology, and medical advances, what does that really matter?

For a completely different (neo-Marxist) theory about the relationship between feminism, capitalism, and technological progress, check out Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto.” It’s a strange piece, and you’ll disagree with her fundamental argument; but I think it’s well-worth reading.