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Women on the Web

Reading "A home on the Web" (Network, 2 December) did, as no doubt intended, leave me provoked. I myself have experienced the pain caused by the extreme hostility, bullying and dirty tricks used to get rid of women from science and technology workplaces. And anger at every job application that required date of birth, gender and number of children; knowing that this information would exclude me at a first screening.

Enter the Internet. I find it a friendly place. Dead and buried are communications in the form, "We acknowledge your letter of the 5th which we have sent for onward transmission to the customer accounts department." If the managing director uses the Web, you can write, "Dear Fred ..." and you get a straightforward reply. A paradox, perhaps, but using this supposedly intimidating technology produces better communication than the familiar pen and paper.

Of course, there are unpleasant pages on the Web, but let me assure women that it isn't a feature of searching for the word "women". A well-known company whose product sold to young people found the same name being used to publish pornography. And there was a site with a name very close to that of my domain name. Was, in the past tense, because it was bad enough to be removed in this autumn's purge.

But do I find hostility as a woman writing on the Web? No, but then I wouldn't, because I'm not a woman. Not often, anyway. Nor am I vertically challenged, nor past my sell-by date. On the Internet you are only what you choose to reveal. People contact me because of what I do and how I do it. Now I may be politically naive, but I thought this was the goal of the ideal workplace: an environment where people of whatever gender are sought-after because of what they do regardless of disability, physical attractiveness or agen

Frances Bell

cis-eden@cis-eden.demon.co.uk

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