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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Women are from Venus, Men Love Tech

Posted on August 16, 2012 at 10:05 PM

I’ve read the news, I’ve heard the reports and studies and I’ve seen the figures claiming the billions of dollars women spend on tech annually and how they are a major factor in influencing the majority of technology buying decisions. And while I absolutely believe in the importance of engaging women in the system design and buying process, and have no doubt that they are a major influence on the money being spent, I’m just not sure I totally buy into these assertions.


In my years of experience selling audio/video systems to men, women, families and couples of all combinations of sexes, I have to say that women rarely feel the same way about tech that men do. Oh, they are interested in the look for sure. They don’t want wall clutter and they want the speakers to line up with the can lighting. And they are interesting in the ergonomics of the control. And they might even select a higher-end speaker or display, but it often has far more to do with a product’s aesthetics, than its performance.


But for the most part, when women choose to be involved in the buying decisions and design process, they are typically there in more of a voice-of-reason, “Do we really need to spend that much? Let’s just get the smaller/cheaper one. It’ll be good enough,” capacity.


Sure, that’s probably a sexist generalization, and I’ve no doubt that there are tons of women out there that dream about blowing every dollar of their paycheck on a giant speaker system or on a video screen so big that it’s an affront to God or who want nothing more than to settle into a dark room with a glass of scotch and a Blu-ray set to reference volume level. It’s just that I’ve never run across one. Far more common is one woman I know – an editor of a tech publication, no less – that watches movies and TV on a 13-inch laptop screen.


No question, women love movies and music and TV, but the tech that delivers the experience – iPad, laptop, 32-inch LCD or 100-inch front projection system – is far less important to the X chromosome set.


Click here to ontinue reading why women are from Venus when it comes to tech at Resi Systems....

Categories: August 2012, Electronics

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11 Comments

Reply Roxy Rogers
2:09 PM on August 29, 2012 
In response to your comment "I?ve no doubt that there are tons of women out there that dream about blowing every dollar of their paycheck on a giant speaker system or on a video screen so big that it?s an affront to God or who want nothing more than to settle into a dark room with a glass of scotch and a Blu-ray set to reference volume level. It?s just that I?ve never run across one." . . .

You're correct. There are. ::waves::
And you need to get out more if you haven't run across women like us. There are plenty of us running around out in the world. And while I certainly understand I'm not in the largest majority, I personally know other women like myself. Some of them also work in IT as I do, some of them are also authors. I happen to be both. I also happen to have 2 latptops, 2 desktops (one just for PC MMORPG gaming), a 42" rear projection tv, a 32" LCD, and various other gadgets including a Roku box and an eReader that I'm longing to replace with the latest large color version. I live alone and am contemplating upgrading my Roku box to the newest model. I realize I do not need that many gadgets, but need has nothing to do with anything. If I had the extra funds I'd have a movie theater built in my great room! At the least, I'm thinking about buying a wall mounting 60" or so LCD at the holidays, because 24, 300, Star Wars, LotR and the latest action movies should be watched on the largest possible screen, IMNSHO. And btw, currently it's Lawsons Scotch, but I am fairly fickle with brands and like single-grain as well (not to be confused with single-malt, the difference between them even the majority of Y-chromosome members are completely ignorant, though I'm sure there must be exceptions). I've just never met one.

And yes, in case you hadn't guessed, I find your post sexist. Your Venus "evidence" is also anecdotal. That's another problem with us gadget-oriented X chromosomes . . . we tend to like real proof in the form of statistical research or recognized surveys.
Reply John Sciacca
4:00 PM on August 29, 2012 
Roxy Rogers says...
In response to your comment "I?ve no doubt that there are tons of women out there that dream about blowing every dollar of their paycheck on a giant speaker system or on a video screen so big that it?s an affront to God or who want nothing more than to settle into a dark room with a glass of scotch and a Blu-ray set to reference volume level. It?s just that I?ve never run across one." . . .

You're correct. There are. ::waves::
And you need to get out more if you haven't run across women like us. There are plenty of us running around out in the world. And while I certainly understand I'm not in the largest majority, I personally know other women like myself. Some of them also work in IT as I do, some of them are also authors. I happen to be both. I also happen to have 2 latptops, 2 desktops (one just for PC MMORPG gaming), a 42" rear projection tv, a 32" LCD, and various other gadgets including a Roku box and an eReader that I'm longing to replace with the latest large color version. I live alone and am contemplating upgrading my Roku box to the newest model. I realize I do not need that many gadgets, but need has nothing to do with anything. If I had the extra funds I'd have a movie theater built in my great room! At the least, I'm thinking about buying a wall mounting 60" or so LCD at the holidays, because 24, 300, Star Wars, LotR and the latest action movies should be watched on the largest possible screen, IMNSHO. And btw, currently it's Lawsons Scotch, but I am fairly fickle with brands and like single-grain as well (not to be confused with single-malt, the difference between them even the majority of Y-chromosome members are completely ignorant, though I'm sure there must be exceptions). I've just never met one.

And yes, in case you hadn't guessed, I find your post sexist. Your Venus "evidence" is also anecdotal. That's another problem with us gadget-oriented X chromosomes . . . we tend to like real proof in the form of statistical research or recognized surveys.


Roxy, thanks for taking the time to read and for the thorough reply! No question, you've got a lot of tech in your life. My "anecdotal" evidence comes from designing, selling and installing audio/video systems since 1998. The *vast* majority of time, the female partner wanted NOTHING to do with the process short of "how does it look?" and "what does it cost?"

We are definitely in agreement about viewing a movie on the largest screen possible -- mine is 115-inches -- and (I'd add) with the best sound system possible, and I hope that you get that 60-inch LCD (though, I'd recommend Plasma; I think it offers a more film-like experience and has better black levels compared to LCD at the same price point) to enjoy for the holidays. Also, I just watched Ep IV with my 5-year-old lady; her first viewing of what I hope will be a lifelong love of Star Wars.

I will try to seek out some Lawson's (assuming you mean the 12-year) as I always like a good rec, though I'm partial to the 18 year Glens.
Reply Roxy Rogers
6:26 PM on August 29, 2012 
Life experience IS anecdotal, even if your a statistician and have a photographic memory. Now, I'm not discounting it by any means, but is is not something on which to base the kind of lame assertion you are making, even from a non-statistician's point of view. You might want to check out the following studies, whose non-anecdotal findings dispute your assertion quite strongly, and were made available in the news this year (as in, I submit that your notions are slightly dinosaurish, and perhaps the anecdotal information is highly colored by your personal opinion filtrs, Mr. Sciacca)...
-WIRED magazine; Parks Associate's survey; http://www.themarysue.com/women-buy-technology-more-than-men/
-http://www.biv.com/article/20120423/BIV0311/304239971/-1/BIV/dit
ch-those-dated-gender-stereotypes-to-tap-into-women-146-s-buying
(this asserts that, "Women like technology ? a lot. Except for flat screen TVs, women are *more likely* than men to buy laptops, smartphones and tablets ? winning in three of these top four consumer electronics categories. When asked which digital device they would abandon if forced to, half would scrap their TV, but only 11% would part with laptops."
It also goes on to quote 2010 study by American marketer Ogilvy & Mather, "Women love to communicate and interact with others; their technology use illustrates that . . . at least 20% of 'digital divas' shop daily online and more than 90% pass on product information."

And lest you think the first study asserting women actually buy *more tech gadgets than men* might be someone's anecdotal evidence, here is a cross-reference for the study: http://www.learnvest.com/2012/01/women-buy-more-tech-gadgets-than
-men-636/

As a former journalist and now an author, I am very familiar with the dangers of relying on anecdotal evidence to inform or engage your audience (whoever they might be), and when I have recently read studies that suggest your blog entry is a gross misstatement of the actual statistics in proven studies, I cannot buy into your anecdotal data. Pun intended. Perhaps, if you want to examine your anecdotal data more closely you might find that it rests more on how you yourself are behaving and presenting yourself to a couple or individual customer? Let me quote another article which supports my theory that it might be you making women disinterested in asking questions:
"...marketing company Girlpower, found that women buy more than 50 percent of ?traditional male products,? including electronics, home improvement tools and cars. And when it comes to purchasing a car, women get better results, according to an analysis by Florida-based LeaseTrader. **Women were also more likely than men to ask questions about a car?s accident history, safety performance, and functionality."
**Granted this does not apply to computers or TVs but I assume you also would consider a car to be either a toy or gadget in some, if not many, cases?

I'm glad to hear you're introducing your 5-year-old to Star Wars --one of the greatest achievements in film. I do hope that you'll also introduce her, and yourself, to the idea of more logical thinking and sound research before writing a blog entry that asserts an idea which study statistics disproved in earlier in the same year.

As for the scotch, Glenlivet is very nice, but IMO not always worth the cash, and no, I did not mean the 12, I'm not a true connoisseur, I suppose, and I'm okay with that (as I said, a bit fickle). I'm open-minded about a lot of things, including balancing longevity of gadget, repair and replacement costs of said gadget with it's size and price. Bigger is not always better if the maintenance or replacement costs are too high. I try to let those things influence at least a little, that part of my brain that says "I want the largest toy on the planet." Plasma has always looked just a little nicer to my eye, but really horrid to my wallet and also to my preference for longevity. Quality is sometimes found under the hood and not just by looking at the paint job. I find it's the same for people as well as gadgets.
Reply John Sciacca
4:09 PM on August 30, 2012 
Roxy, you're right; I have never conducted any formal studies or polling or anything else that could even remotely be considered as even quasi-official.

But, I have been in the tech industry since 1998, as both a retailer/installer and a journalist. I've written probably close to 1000 (published) articles and been to the major tradeshows multiple times, and I've actually happened to meet a couple of real, live women over the years. (Several of whom actually consider me a friend.)

I think that we're defining "tech" differently; I wasn't really referring to tablets, smart phones and laptops in my piece -- which your own cited study referred to as "gadgets." I was talking about bigger items like home theater, surround sound, audio and video systems and automation. I probably should have been more specific, but I thought the title was catchy. (I mean, Day-um, look how involved it got you!)

To respond to your comment "it might be you making women disinterested in asking questions," I'd have to say that it is quite difficult to engage the female when she remains seated in the car, doesn't attend any of the meetings, busies herself in other rooms of the home, or says, "this is his department, I don't care. I'm getting my kitchen, so he can do whatever he wants." I have experienced all of this -- anecdotally, of course -- *hundreds* of times over the years.

Also, I put a lot of weight in real life-experience over statistics and studies. I don't live statistics and studies, and I doubt you do either. I would hope that my daughter learns to use "logical thinking and sound research" -- as you suggested -- based on her own real-life experiences and what she sees happening around her. (While developing an unhealthy love for Star Wars, of course.)

Think that your final comment -- "Plasma has always looked just a little nicer to my eye, but really horrid to my wallet and also to my preference for longevity" -- kind of sums up my point exactly. You are looking for value, where men just want the best thing they can get. (I'm still loving my 60-inch 9G Pioneer Elite Plasma. When I'm not watching my 115-inch anamorphic front projection system, that is.)

Also, if you haven't read the comments at the Residential Systems link of this story -- http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=4
44 -- you might find them interesting. Two are from veteran women in the CE industry.

Again, appreciate you taking the time to stop by, read, and respond.
John
Reply Lindsey
4:34 PM on August 30, 2012 
I can't believe she actually wrote "it might be you making women disinterested in asking questions,"

That's harsh, and so not true. I ask you TONS of questions.
Reply Jennifer Willard
8:50 PM on August 30, 2012 
Roxy,

I'm a little confused as to how your own statements and the research you cite don't prove John's point exactly. "...at least 20% of 'digital divas' shop daily online and more than 90% pass on product information."

How does 90% of women passing over product information not unquestionably reinforce that MOST women don't care about the technology side of making electronics purchases? That means only 10% of women DO care, correct? That seems to be pretty consistent in my experience to the number of women who are actually in the AV/electronics industry. Or, any STEM industry for that matter, including IT, such as yourself. And, the other data you cited is from a marketing company that took a poll of 2,000 consumers. Given there are over 300 million people in the US alone, how do you support that number is even scratches the surface of representing what the majority of people think?

I'm not certain why you would make such snap judgements about John and the type of person he is. It comes across to me that you seem a little angry. The fact is John is one of the most well-repsected and nicest gentlemen in the AV industry. This is based solely on the experience people have with him, not some poll people take. Even his replies to your comments were gracious.

I stopped believing in polls and studies when I took a statistics class in college. Unless you force everyone to participate (which you can't unless your the Nielsen's rating), your data is always going to be based on those who want to take your survey and therefore, incomplete. Which in my mind, doesn't seem the most logical thing to rely on over experience. And, given that it sounds like you have 0 experience in this area versus John's +14 years, I'm quite surprised you consider yourself the expert here.

To my original question, how does your own words and "research" not confirm John's point exactly?
Reply Roxy Rogers
1:10 AM on September 6, 2012 
Jennifer,
I did not say passing "over," I quoted, "passing on" as in "to pass on information to others"
Obviously, you are doing the exact same thing that I expect anyone steeped in anecdotal theory to do, and who is simply defending a friend or colleague to do--that is, not reading the actual citation. If you don't take someone's opinion and the research they've done seriously, I can't take your rebuttal seriously. 90% of the women in the study "pass on" the research they gather on tech. I think that supports my assertions quite well.
Reply Roxy Rogers
1:16 AM on September 6, 2012 
Jennifer, I also should have mentioned that as a former news reporter and 20 years in IT doing corporate training analysis using a large variety of information gathering methods in conjunction with HR, marketing, corp communications and several IT-based research companies, I do have quite a bit of experience in the areas you assert I have zero in. I happened to be signed in under my author pen name through my FB account, but for my day job, I do work for one of the largest IT companies on the planet. I have also spoken about statistical findings for what was formerly Ziff-Davis at several national conferences. This does not make me an expert at anything, but it does make me cautious about stating anecdotal assertions as if they were true. The more you learn about an area, the more you realize the less you know. That cliche may be a cliche, but I've found it's quite true in all three of the industries in which I'm involved.
Reply Roxy Rogers
1:43 AM on September 6, 2012 
John,
Thanks for your response. Yes, the title of anything that sounds like it's a blanket assertion with one or the other gender in the cross-hairs always gets my attention, and partly as an author doing research on an undisclosed project at present.

I will read the citation you provided, though I notice its not an actual study or vetted white paper and will just comment that two CE's while their opinion may carry weight is hardly the same as several large scale studies. But I'm always willing to consider other findings and any proof that go beyond the slice of research I've seen myself. However, that said, I do find comments in blogs and articles to be anecdotal themselves unless studies and citations are used to support the points made.

As for the plasma discussion, and this may be a minute point... it was not just perceived value that I was pointing to, but the simple fact of not wanting to buy something I'm going to have to take the trouble to fix or replace on a regular basis... I am thinking less about the "loss" of money here, but of the annoyance factor and the time I could be spending enjoying the item instead of fixing it... I suppose in a way that may also be considered as falling under the "value" category?...and there's no denying that money does become a consideration but certainly not the first or even third consideration that I give. But I was leaning more toward the annoyance factor when I said that. Still, your point is a good one.

Not being present on the hundreds of incidences you mentioned a second time, I'm, again, not disputing your personal view point of what occurred in any way, and I certainly can't verify one way or the other what took place or didn't. I agree it's difficult to speak to someone who doesn't seem likely to ask questions or seems unwilling to engage. My own anecdotal experience of both my women and men friends, and also of women I have met for the first time while shopping for tech, whether it's a TV, a power conditioner, or a computer will ask me questions because I seem approachable to them. (Which, based on my initial responses may seem surprising to you, but believe me my full snark is in check unless I see what appears to be a lot of anecdotal information or assumptions being lobbed around). I've no doubt you have all the experience you mentioned, I'm simply pointing out that human experience, though valid as one consideration, does not tell the whole story, and that often our view point can highly color our perceptions and reinforce those perceptions more and more with each experience as we look to validate and "type" both people and events. And then there is the human issue of wanting to be right, and using each experience to further reinforce to ourselves that our original judgment, perhaps made during the first few handful of events was accurate. Because human beings hate to be wrong and are brains are wired to look for reinforcing data. This is getting a little into the human factors area now, of which I do have some experience, but I think you already began to see my point, so I won't belabor it further. Thank you for taking the time to consider and respond to other views.
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