OUR IDEA: Women's groups have much to gain by experimenting
with online activities to support their efforts on behalf of young
women and girls. However, these groups - and the young women who participate
in these groups - are under-represented online. Our aim is to facilitate
conversation and collaboration among these groups, while at the same
time investigating the barriers faced by women, girls, and small nonprofits
in accessing and utilizing new technology.
OUR PROJECT: Tech Up brought together representatives
of women's organizations and the young women who participate in those
groups to engage in an online discussion about the issues they care
about. Participants were expected to devote an hour a week to online
conversation as well as participate in face-to-face meetings. The project
ran from November 1998 through June 2000.
Women's Foundation grantees, representing the ethnic and regional
diversity of California, participated in the Tech Up Project.
In addition, 13 young women were trained to be part of
the project, including five girls from the Sierra Youth Center. Four
young women leaders from The Women's Foundation's Sisterhood Fund also
TECHNOLOGY: The project provided and maintained
conferencing and listserv technology so that the groups could communicate,
as well as Internet access for specific groups, if needed. The Women's
Foundation generously donated three computers to groups who needed them
as well as three email accounts.
Forty-three women used an email list to receive updates and alerts and twenty-four women participated in an on-going, in-depth discussion in an electronic conference.
TRAINING: We held four training sessions,
training thirty-six women in basic Internet skills including how to use an email
list, basic web browsing, and how to participate in an online conference.
Trainings were held at the Computer Technologies Project in Berkeley,
Roots and Wings in Winters, Sierra Youth Center in Santa Rosa, and Women's
Economic Agenda Project in Oakland.
THE DISCUSSION: Forty-four topics appeared on the online discussion.
What makes a good role model?
Why women are taking over the Internet
Pornography and the Internet
Hate crimes: Where does the line get drawn?
Women, girls and drugs
The discussion has been wide-ranging and freewheeling, benefiting both
participant organizations and individuals. The participant groups described their programs, activities and goals. Organizations benefited by
sharing information about outreach (particularly recruiting women and
girls to technology), online research, funding, and training. An ongoing
look at mentoring programs surfaced parameters of what makes a successful
relationship and program.
The conference became a place where people could test out their ideas
and get feedback on personal, professional and policy issues. For example,
one young woman needed resources to help assist
a friend addicted to drugs, and the group provided needed phone numbers,
as well as emotional support. A young woman, interested in feedback
on the issue of whether developmentally disabled couples should have
kids, received thoughtful answers, including the response of someone
who has a developmentally disabled relative for whom she is the caretaker.
A woman inundated with SPAM received a resource list on how to stop
it. Other participants asked for feedback on policy issues including
parental consent for contraceptives and California's Youth Crime Bill
Participants also spoke intimately, powerfully and confidentially
about personal issues, particularly their families. These conversational
strands emerged alongside discussion of media, policy and community
and harked back to women's traditions of sharing female wisdom through
gossip and conversation as well as the political organizing that eventually
emerges from consciousness-raising groups.
FACE-TO-FACE STRATEGY SESSIONS: We held
our first strategy session back in November 1998 to surface what issues
were of greatest concern us. We continued to have face-to-face strategy
sessions and through them zeroed in on the topics for this webzine.
The Tech Up Project ended June 30, 2000. For additional information
regarding the Tech Up Project, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2000 by Individual Authors