Justine Cassell
MIT Media Lab
20 Ames Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

In this chapter I'll discuss video games as an example of how a technology has been designed for a particular gender, and how this design process illustrates a particular relationship between gender and the design of human-computer interfaces, and technology in general. I'll label that relationship a genderization of IT, and I'm going to come back to that sarcastic wording a little later. The goal of this chapter is to problematize the endeavor of trying to figure out solutions to designing information technologies for girls and women. I'm going to make that look even harder than we already thought it was by showing some of the unintended consequences of some of our well-meaning solutions. I argue that girls were for a long time not taken into account in the design of computer games; however designing games "specially for girls" risks ghettoizing girls as a population that needs 'special help' in their relation to technology. In contrast to this stance, my own design philosophy, which I call "underdetermined design," encourages both boys and girls to express aspects of self-identity that transcend stereotyped gender categories. In the course of the chapter, I'll end up by questioning the following a priori: In designing technology, do we even want to talk about how and whether girls are different from boys? Who cares about those differences - about whether their wetwear is different? I believe that there are differences, and important ones at that. But, until we can get away from a kind of a deficit model of girls and technology, we may need to watch our step in designing explicitly with one gender in mind.