Representations of Gender in the “Get a Mac” Ad Campaign

By Ramona R. Santa Maria and Meg Knowles.

Published by Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Learning occurs in many places outside of a school setting- it is ubiquitous. We may unknowingly integrate this hidden curriculum of new ideas into our lives. This is especially true when integrating ideas associated with computing.
According to Weiser (1991) ubiquitous learning means to “weave…[computing] into the fabric of everyday life until [these technologies] are indistinguishable”, this is especially true in Apple’s ad campaign “Get a Mac”; a campaign that ran from 2006-2010. There were more than 66 commercial spots produced (in addition to many alternative versions targeting international markets). These spots influenced how we perceive the Mac versus the PC— and viewers identified with it more closely because (male) humans were characterized as computers.
However, the representation that is omitted from these commercials is one that would show a women as the computer. While, women are present in these commercials they are shown as therapists, peripherals, and technicians, but they are not shown as the computer. This lack of representation reinforces the idea that computers are exclusively reserved for men (Santa Maria, 2009a). Although this perception is ultimately false, it is perpetuated by images in the media (Aronowitz, 1992; Nelson Knupfer & Rust, 1997; Reiley, 2006; Sofia, 1998). This paper undertakes a media analysis of these commercials and the way they represent gender.

Keywords: Education, Media, Gender, STEM, Hidden Curriculum

Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.83-96. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.103MB).

Dr. Ramona R. Santa Maria

Assistant Professor, Computer Information Systems Department, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY, USA

Ramona R. Santa Maria, has taught within the Computer Information Systems Department at Buffalo State College (SUNY) since 1999. An assistant professor, she holds a PhD. in social foundations from the University at Buffalo with a concentration in critical and cultural studies of information technology. An award winning teacher, her research interests include the social impacts of technology for women and minorities, and classroom technology integration. Santa Maria, lives in Buffalo, NY with husband Chris, and son Lorenzo.

Meg Knowles

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Buffalo State College (SUNY), Buffalo, NY, USA

Meg Knowles is an Assistant Professor of Media Production at Buffalo State College. She is also an award winning autobiographical documentary and experimental video artist whose work has been screened at festivals, galleries and museums including the Museum of Modern Art, Anthology Film Archives, Portland PDX Film Festival, the Athens International Film & Video Festival as well as on Free Speech TV and PBS. Meg is a graduate of the MFA program in Film Media Arts at Temple University and is a Director and Producer for the Termite TV Collective. Meg’s research interests are in Visual Communication, Documentary Film History and Theory, and Autobiography.