Women with byte: Technology runs Her world

 Atongla Rothrong

The women have changed once more. And this time she did it while you were sleeping. From our grandmas who were scared to turn the volume on the radio and our moms who were content choosing their mixie-grinders. Today the woman is buying her own notepad, cell phone, MP3 player, plasma screen and more. A woman is no longer a mere prop to push the product into the market- she is a serious consumer. And how!

The gender issue is becoming less and less apparent as technology is becoming part of our everyday lives. The technicalities of computers, which had earlier put women off, are no longer frightening them. As hardware and software becomes cheaper, more accessible and easier to use, they are becoming more widely adopted in the home, workplace and educational institutions. IT (information technology) is an essential part of her life today.

“The entire consumer revolution is based on getting more people to buy more stuff. Today, digital cameras and handy cams have made everyone a photographer and a moviemaker. Not just women, even kids” says 62 yr old Girija Padmanabhan, a homemaker and freelance writer from Chennai. Aienla a local designer too confessed she used to be technology shy, but today she ‘wants more, I am no longer afraid to make a mistake because I see children handling these gadgets with such ease’.

A study on women consumers by Grey world-wide indicates that the woman consumers of tomorrow will move from frugal living to guilt-free materialism. She will evolve into someone who maintains separate bank accounts after marriage and think cell phones as a more useful gadget than mixie. The researchers conducted a quantitative study amongst 3,400 women in across five metros and four mini metros. Greys national head of account planning, Naresh Gupta says “The objective of the study was to understand the way women consumers will behave in the future”. According to him, future homemakers would first add TV, refrigerators and cell phones to their shopping list, other durables like washing machines, food processors, music systems, microwaves and ACs would come way down.

Sheena Sippy, an ace photographer, uses her Canon EOS 3 for a majority of her shoots but her favorite is the Hasselblad X Pan 2.She chooses all her electronics and gadgets herself. Her other favorite gadgets are her MP3 player and the iPod. Sheena says she never had inhibitions working/ buying/ figuring out electronics. Thats like Anna, who’s head was always under the bonnet with the boys, each time the car broke down. Once when a prospective grooms family came home visiting, Anna was found under the car trying to fix it. She was sternly told by her brother to stay where she was until the guest left.

“The woman was always a hands-on person, repairing the iron and coolers at home. Just because computers, PDAs and cell phones have come in now doesn’t mean she has become techno- savvy” Adman Prahlad Kakkar says.

Though broadly speaking, there are two types of women- the early adaptors (who are adventurous and try out whatever new comes into the market) and the pragmatists (who wait for things to settle down before they get into it). Some women look at electronics as an investment rather than an expense. They are the family troubleshooters. When something new has to be bought, she checks out the price, configuration and options before she takes the decision. Women make choosy customers, while men are happy with straight lines and functionality; women want their possessions to look great too. They compare features and prices across brands before buying any product

According to Ish Bawa, Marcom Manager, BenQ India PVT Ltd “our research shows that women require large phone book memories in their mobiles and so we have incorporated a 500- entry phone book memory even in the base model of our mobile phone range. Our road shows across the country tell us that women in the metros replace their mobile phones much faster than women in smaller cities”.

The trend is also making the argument redundant that women prefer languages and men take to number and technology. However, women globally choose the look and styling of the gizmos and often come back to double check. Keeping in mind the fact that it is the women who is fond of capturing memories- the digital imaging category is booming. It looks like Bill Gates “The road ahead” is right round the corner. And guess what, a women is waiting there to show you the way. Smart homes are now becoming a reality in our society.

The result is that it’s no longer surprising to find women spending on technology. “The top Indian IT companies have more than 20% of women on their rolls, way above the representatives of women in the banking or manufacturing sectors, and way above what the US can boast of”- The Economic Times.