I don’t believe that the internet is a leveller of genders. In fact, in many cases, it seems to be the opposite.

I spend a lot of time on IRC (internet relay chat), where my IRC nick is not gender-neutral. On many occasions I have joined IRC channels to ask technical questions, and have encountered people who say things like, “Oh, I don’t know the answer to your question, but you can talk to me anyway because you’re a girl.” or “Are you really a girl?” and then after checking my “real name” exclaiming “Yesssss!” and suchlike.

If one outright pretends to be a man (for instance, by assuming a male IRC nick) then perhaps one could naively see internet-based communication as a leveller of genders, but only in as much as it’s level because no one realises that you are a woman — that’s about hiding gender, not levelling it! —questions (join-the-dots)

Hannah makes some excellent, thoughtful responses to a pre-interview survey. She seems a bit frustrated by commonly held notions about women in computing, noting, quite diplomatically, “a bit of an implied assumption” in a question that suggests that she, as a woman, might faces personal challenges that form personal challenges for her. “For example,” she notes, “consider fathers who’d prefer to work part time or from home, but are discouraged from doing so due to societal pressures.”

Heh. I’m usually discouraged from working at home by the sound of screaming kids, but I’m on my own for another week until the wife and kids get back from visiting my in-laws.