FROM “GEEK” TO “CHIC:” WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY AND THE WOMAN QUESTION

Elizabeth Wissinger

Abstract


Wearable technology has been hyped as the next revolutionary technology. Amid differing opinions regarding its overall impact, scholars have explored questions it raises about bodies, technology, and connection, with ‘geek’ technologies, for fitness and medical use, receiving the most attention. With the rise of ‘chic’ tech aimed at healthy bodies identifying as female, this project examines fashion tech designs currently on the market, and finds these products reveal a deep cultural ambivalence about what women want, and what society wants them to be. Drawing on ethnographic interview data with fashion tech designers, textual analysis of 50 news articles, content analysis of fashion tech product websites and ad campaigns, as well as participant observation at wearable tech expos and meet ups, I found three prevalent assumptions about women informing these devices. First, women are potential victims. Second, women should be as available to others as possible, especially those who are in their care. Third, the idea that women and tech don’t mix, while gradually evolving, still prevails as a stereotype within the popular imagination.


Keywords


Wearable Technology, Gender, Mobile Technologies

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