What Women Want

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I wonder if women want the same things online as they want in a school classroom for students?

At first glance, more women teach in schools than men, and an increasing number of women hold important administrative positions throughout education. It also appears obvious that men developed and mostly controlled and funded early adoption of advanced technologies, including in schools.

By accepting these stipulations, it seems reasonable to argue that education technology policies and practices must find acceptance among professional women in schools in order for Tablet PCs and other advanced technologies to be readily available for student learning anywhere, anytime about any school subject.

A parallel situation exists in online purchasing or e-commerce. Kelly Mooney, President of Resource Interactive, is co-author of “What Women Want” report. She describes results of in-depth interviews with women as well as 4,000 online surveys of female online shoppers, in addition to an array of secondary data.

Her report seems consistent with what I observed while working (in another life) with a prominent, women-owned and operated online computer company. Men should take Mooney’s findings and conclusions seriously, if we want more students to learn with advanced technologies.

In short, in 2004, female shoppers made 64 percent of online purchases. She also identifies ten things women want but are not getting online.

1. The Big Picture: they prefer shopping with a context in mind.
2. To Control the Edit: let them control the navigation to look for a product “the way they want to get to it, not the way the retailer wants you to see it.”
3. Details. Details. Details: they want richer details.
4. Experience by Proxy: women trust other women who have tried the service, brand and who have an expert point of view about it.
5. To Pause and Play: life is about interruptions, sometimes intended temporary breaks.
6. Act on Inspiration: don’t make a shopper hunt for a relevant product page.
7. To Gratify at the Point of Decision: the point of purchase and point of decision occur at two different moments. State availability conditions upfront.
8. Full Service Gifting: including an e-mail confirmation that the gift arrived.
9. To Be Remembered: build a profile that includes everything she wants to know, including preferences and special offers, added values for logging in.
10. To Feel Understood: they want to click on a site and say, “Okay, this retailer gets me.”

Mooney suggests that merchants engage in a “deep listening odyssey” with female buyers.

I don’t know of a comparable study reporting how professional female educators work with advanced technology in schools. This seems like a good dissertation topic for someone.

Until then, it seems useful to assume, as in e-commerce, that women appear as prime drivers, perhaps the prime drivers of acceptance of advanced technology in schools.

Perhaps someone (a woman?) will adapt Mooney’s ten points to ways for educators to increase acceptance of advanced technologies – like a Tablet PC – in more school classrooms.

Here are some questions this study helped me focus on. I’ll think about these a bit more. I don’t think answers to any of these questions is lack of money. That’s too easy. There’s lots of money. I’ve found (as have legions of others) in education and business that money flows to good ideas. It really does!

Do educators have reasons different from what women want in online buying for not accepting or finding a Tablet PC a compelling tool for students? Why don’t teachers demand that every child in their classroom have a Tablet PC or another advanced mobile computing device? Why has HP’s free distribution of Tablet PCs to schools not created a ground swell of demand for more Tablet PCs? Why have other computer manufacturers not pushed harder for their products in schools? Why will a school superintendent buy a new 17-inch notebook with bells and whistles while relegating her children to a 486 desktop with an old 15-inch CRT monitor at home and no computers in their classrooms?

If educators could wave a magic wand and get their wish, what advanced technologies (if any?) do educators want for use by themselves and students? When do we want these technologies?

Hmmm. This is interesting.

Resource Interactive

1 COMMENT

  1. Point me in the direction of $5 million for each of four years and I’ll show you a *real* pilot project…

  2. I take your offer seriously. I’ll be glad to review your ideas with you off-line, if you’d like to do so. I’m convinced, based on experience, and logic that money exists for good ideas. I’m sure your idea is a good one. At the level of money you’re suggesting, your project will face strong competition. But it’s doable. That level money exists for more projects. In part, any project must show evidence that your project is “good,” that it will generate results beyond existing classroom procedures. Start building that evidence with the resources you already have assigned to you in your classes. Use your own Tablet PC to start with. Set it up for automatic data collection, counting transactions, or something that shows how you generate your results. This is a technical, disciplined process. It has been done routinely for decades in projects in many public school classes. Demonstrate that your procedures generate results superior to other procedures. Review these data with someone who finds them compelling. You know the drill. It’s doable. I know this will read like pap, but I’ve done it and seen it done many times. Listen to suggestions from the doers, not the againers and excusers. Continue to assume the money waits for your data. It probably does.