July 10, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

You go, girl gadgeteer

Stop Gina Hughes in the street on any given day and you'll find the following in her bag: a Treo, a Bluetooth headset, a digital camera, an iPod--and, quite possibly, a few more gadgets for good measure.

Swing by her house and you'll see a couple of TiVos and flat-panel televisions, a MacBook Pro, a camcorder, a PlayStation Portable and a Nintendo DS Lite. Don't even get started on her car--the dashboard has more buttons than the helm of the starship Enterprise.

Gadgets "make you feel safe and confident," said the 32-year-old gearhead, who runs the blog Techie Diva from her Silicon Valley home. "And of course, they make you look cool."

Hughes, who also writes a tech column for Yahoo, could be the poster child for today's girl gadgeteers. Passionate and knowledgeable about her gear, and a careful consumer known to spend weeks researching a product before plunking down her cash, she's part of a growing legion of women who, more than ever before, are getting gung ho about gadgets. And figures show they're becoming major players in the consumer-electronics market.

Out of $107.2 billion spent on consumer-electronics technology in 2005, men accounted for 54 percent, or $57.9 billion worth, of those purchases, and women took care of 46 percent, or $49.3 billion, according to market research firm The NPD Group. That's an 18 percent increase in spending by females compared with the previous year, when women rang up $41.9 billion in gadget purchases. Men spent about the same amount in 2004 as they did in 2005.

"It's increasingly not just about having a gadget, but having a functional product that enhances the life of the family," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for The NPD Group. "The idea that people go online to go shopping--that makes the computer (purchase) something of a household decision. It's not just guys in charge of the gadgets."

Gadgets for girls

Whether the wallet is being wielded by a stay-at-home mom, a working woman or any of the other countless variations on the 21st century female, gadget makers are taking note. Major companies including Apple Computer, Motorola, Eastman Kodak, Sony and Nintendo are giving products like cell phones, USB flash drives and handheld game devices bursts of color and graceful lines, and featuring women prominently in ads. Some designers, meanwhile, are developing products with an exclusively female audience in mind.

"Most of the women I know play a lot of different roles in their lives, and they're all very important to them," said designer Steffi Card. "They don't use (a gadget) just for business. They need it for their personal lives, their friendships, their family, all of these things."

Card conceived of Swapsets, a new line of stylish headbands that double as headphones, with an optional matching cell phone headset, after concluding that typical headphones, in her mind at least, are uncomfortable and none too attractive.

"I didn't like how inflexible they were," said the New York designer, who co-owns Steffi Thomas NYC with her husband. "I didn't like that the speaker of the headset always had to be in my ear all the time--I felt like I was living my life...with only one ear." Plus, she added, "I decided I didn't like the way they looked."

Related CNET podcast
Girls Gone Gadget
Kelly Morrison and Molly Wood
on hot gear, pop-culture tech.

Her alternative works like a traditional headband, worn behind the ears to push back hair. Swapsets are available in wool, cotton and silk, in designs from polka dots to stripes to Indian-inspired paisleys. Earringlike dangles hanging from the bottom of the headband are an optional accessory, for added flair.

"The idea with a headset is that you're wearing it on your face, your head. It's very personal," Card said. "Why wouldn't it be attractive and interesting? Once you're wearing it, it might as well be fun."

The Swapsets site even has a tool for mixing and matching fabrics so consumers can come up with just the right look to match their getup. But as passionate as Card is about fashion and design, she's also adamant that gadgets aimed at women have to incorporate more than a sense of style.

"It has to be cute and attractive," she said. "That's important, but not the only thing that matters. It's quality, comfort and utility."

CONTINUED: I am iPod woman, hear me roar…
Page 1 | 2 | 3

See more CNET content tagged:
consumer electronics, women, gadget, NPD Group Inc., girl

44 comments

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Same old
So you buy a lot of gadgets. That doesn't make you any more cool than if you bought a lot of purses, or shoes, or shot glasses, or Precious Moments statues.
Posted by MrNougat (78 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Same old
So you buy a lot of gadgets. That doesn't make you any more cool than if you bought a lot of purses, or shoes, or shot glasses, or Precious Moments statues.
Posted by MrNougat (78 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Techie divas aren't gadgeteers...
Unfortunately, to judge from the latest several entries, the "Techie Diva" blog doesn't overcome any stereotypes -- it's deeply mired in the notion that real females shouldn't care how technology works or what it does for people, only how it gives you a feeling of glamorous fashionableness.
Posted by mcugaedu (75 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Absolutely Wrong
mcugaedu, Like you said, you were judging from the latest blog entries, and not the whole. Of course I care how technology works, otherwise why would I care to buy it or waste my time writing about it? I started Techie Diva almost two years ago because at that time, there were not many publications available for your average female to stay updated on the latest bits of tech. If I thought "that real females shouldn't care how technology works or what it does for people" I would've never started a blog about personal technology.

I do indulge in covering some "glamorous" pieces of tech (and what blogger doesn't), but I also do my homework and offer people "How to" advice. Most gadget blogs (think Gizmodo or Engadget) cover the same topics I cover on my blog, does that mean they also don't care how tech works or what it does for people? I don't think so. Some of us are just having fun with technology in different ways.
Posted by techiedivas (4 comments )
Link Flag
This female Agrees With you to an extent....
As I will have to agree. However, you have take into consideration that any intelligent woman will do her research on a product even after reading about it on a site who's main purpose is to present gadgets, without any real expert opinion. Would you purchase a laptop because it was pretty or cool or because another site recommended it? I know I wouldn't and sadly enough, we run into proprieters of these site who do not have any experience in computer networking, or over all knowledge. So, having said that, gadget sites are nothing more than "eye candy" presentation sites whose purpose is to put a female slant on devices. Any self respecting female techie would do their home work (Consumer Reports) and other respected resources when it comes to making any big ticket purchase such as a computer.
Posted by gman63 (11 comments )
Link Flag
this male disagrees
this male disagrees. "glamorous fashionableness" doesn't have to
be mutually exclusive from understanding how technology works. i
have two daughters and they both love gadgets that probably
would be considered a little glamorous. but both of them could
probably also run circles around most people when it comes to
knowing about computers and other technology. thanks for the
good article.
Posted by dudley18 (5 comments )
Link Flag
this male disagrees
this male disagrees. "glamorous fashionableness" doesn't have to
be mutually exclusive from understanding how technology works. i
have two daughters and they both love gadgets that probably
would be considered a little glamorous. but both of them could
probably also run circles around most people when it comes to
knowing about computers and other technology. thanks for the
good article.
Posted by dudley18 (5 comments )
Link Flag
Techie divas aren't gadgeteers...
Unfortunately, to judge from the latest several entries, the "Techie Diva" blog doesn't overcome any stereotypes -- it's deeply mired in the notion that real females shouldn't care how technology works or what it does for people, only how it gives you a feeling of glamorous fashionableness.
Posted by mcugaedu (75 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Absolutely Wrong
mcugaedu, Like you said, you were judging from the latest blog entries, and not the whole. Of course I care how technology works, otherwise why would I care to buy it or waste my time writing about it? I started Techie Diva almost two years ago because at that time, there were not many publications available for your average female to stay updated on the latest bits of tech. If I thought "that real females shouldn't care how technology works or what it does for people" I would've never started a blog about personal technology.

I do indulge in covering some "glamorous" pieces of tech (and what blogger doesn't), but I also do my homework and offer people "How to" advice. Most gadget blogs (think Gizmodo or Engadget) cover the same topics I cover on my blog, does that mean they also don't care how tech works or what it does for people? I don't think so. Some of us are just having fun with technology in different ways.
Posted by techiedivas (4 comments )
Link Flag
This female Agrees With you to an extent....
As I will have to agree. However, you have take into consideration that any intelligent woman will do her research on a product even after reading about it on a site who's main purpose is to present gadgets, without any real expert opinion. Would you purchase a laptop because it was pretty or cool or because another site recommended it? I know I wouldn't and sadly enough, we run into proprieters of these site who do not have any experience in computer networking, or over all knowledge. So, having said that, gadget sites are nothing more than "eye candy" presentation sites whose purpose is to put a female slant on devices. Any self respecting female techie would do their home work (Consumer Reports) and other respected resources when it comes to making any big ticket purchase such as a computer.
Posted by gman63 (11 comments )
Link Flag
this male disagrees
this male disagrees. "glamorous fashionableness" doesn't have to
be mutually exclusive from understanding how technology works. i
have two daughters and they both love gadgets that probably
would be considered a little glamorous. but both of them could
probably also run circles around most people when it comes to
knowing about computers and other technology. thanks for the
good article.
Posted by dudley18 (5 comments )
Link Flag
this male disagrees
this male disagrees. "glamorous fashionableness" doesn't have to
be mutually exclusive from understanding how technology works. i
have two daughters and they both love gadgets that probably
would be considered a little glamorous. but both of them could
probably also run circles around most people when it comes to
knowing about computers and other technology. thanks for the
good article.
Posted by dudley18 (5 comments )
Link Flag
Great Marketing Job being done.....
"Gadgets make you look cool"

After reading that in the first paragraph and then we're supposed to think what? As usual seems like the marketing departments are doing a great job. Must be the same guys that convinced stay at home moms that they needed the big SUV's (a higher profit vehicle for the automakers) to look "cool" versus the soccer mom minivan (lower profit vehicle).
Posted by JohnnyL (89 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Great Marketing Job being done.....
"Gadgets make you look cool"

After reading that in the first paragraph and then we're supposed to think what? As usual seems like the marketing departments are doing a great job. Must be the same guys that convinced stay at home moms that they needed the big SUV's (a higher profit vehicle for the automakers) to look "cool" versus the soccer mom minivan (lower profit vehicle).
Posted by JohnnyL (89 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh...
*yawn*
Posted by morkster (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh...
*yawn*
Posted by morkster (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
for added flare???
Unless you want your hair catching on fire, I hope you meant "for added flair".
Posted by Jackson Cracker (272 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yep
Indeed, we were referring to style and not to flammability! Thanks for the good editing eye.
Posted by LeslieKatz (143 comments )
Link Flag
for added flare???
Unless you want your hair catching on fire, I hope you meant "for added flair".
Posted by Jackson Cracker (272 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yep
Indeed, we were referring to style and not to flammability! Thanks for the good editing eye.
Posted by LeslieKatz (143 comments )
Link Flag
Fluff Piece
Wow, what an article, talk about how women want gadgets to look fashionable and trendy for 95% of the article, then insert the occasional: but women want gadgets to be more than fashionable, they have to be multi-functional This article was nothing but a fluff piece. My only guess is that this is a marketing attempt to get women to feel good about buying gadgets in hopes that they would then look on CNet for gadgets to buy.

And in the mean time, the rate of women going into Computer Science programs at Colleges and Universities across America continues to plummet. So women are excluding themselves from the science field and industries, but that doesn't mean as much as women buying gadgets huh?? Women will buy anything, the only thing this article does is to verify that women spend more money than men. GOOD JOB!!!
Posted by ackbar212 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Fluff? I disagree
Chill out my man! Just b/c the article mentions style and fashion
doesn't mean it's fluff. The point is that women are buying more
gadgets and their spending is increasing faster than men's is. An
interesting trend. And hey, there are certain stylin' gadgets I'd
buy that my boyfriend wouldn't. Nothing wrong with that.
Posted by MiaStrong (18 comments )
Link Flag
Fluff Piece
Wow, what an article, talk about how women want gadgets to look fashionable and trendy for 95% of the article, then insert the occasional: but women want gadgets to be more than fashionable, they have to be multi-functional This article was nothing but a fluff piece. My only guess is that this is a marketing attempt to get women to feel good about buying gadgets in hopes that they would then look on CNet for gadgets to buy.

And in the mean time, the rate of women going into Computer Science programs at Colleges and Universities across America continues to plummet. So women are excluding themselves from the science field and industries, but that doesn't mean as much as women buying gadgets huh?? Women will buy anything, the only thing this article does is to verify that women spend more money than men. GOOD JOB!!!
Posted by ackbar212 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Fluff? I disagree
Chill out my man! Just b/c the article mentions style and fashion
doesn't mean it's fluff. The point is that women are buying more
gadgets and their spending is increasing faster than men's is. An
interesting trend. And hey, there are certain stylin' gadgets I'd
buy that my boyfriend wouldn't. Nothing wrong with that.
Posted by MiaStrong (18 comments )
Link Flag
Like it or not, women are a key CE demographic
Perhaps this article got too long and wandered a little too close to the fashion accessory aisle, but there are valid points here. (Most) women do not like being pandered to by CE device manufacturers and marketers, being sold dolled up versions of cell phones and routers, we want technology that works and that solves some kind of need for us, just like any gadget-carrying guy. Women represent a great demographic, partially untapped (for gaming devices especially) and very influential (like it or not, wives make the final go/no go decisions on most major electronics purchases, techie husband's thoughts aside).

To another person's point, gadgeteer and technologist are two different things, and since I lean towards the later, I do hope future stories highlight women who talk about or work in technology more directly.
Posted by Semiconductor Girl (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
And as a female, I could care less about the demographics. I found the story to be pointless. I am a network admin and consider myself to be a true techie. I think the article was well intentioned, but like yourself, i would've enjoyed a piece on women in technology, not a piece on women who have blogs and sites about gadgets. The whole story just seemed a bit about CNET promoting these sites, thus, blowing up the careers of women who have not made any real strides in the technology field. You can either talk or write about gadgets or you can be the inventer or purchase who makes the ultimate decision as to whether a product goes to market. And as a female, I want to be the latter and would love to see more stories like that from CNET.
Posted by gman63 (11 comments )
Link Flag
Like it or not, women are a key CE demographic
Perhaps this article got too long and wandered a little too close to the fashion accessory aisle, but there are valid points here. (Most) women do not like being pandered to by CE device manufacturers and marketers, being sold dolled up versions of cell phones and routers, we want technology that works and that solves some kind of need for us, just like any gadget-carrying guy. Women represent a great demographic, partially untapped (for gaming devices especially) and very influential (like it or not, wives make the final go/no go decisions on most major electronics purchases, techie husband's thoughts aside).

To another person's point, gadgeteer and technologist are two different things, and since I lean towards the later, I do hope future stories highlight women who talk about or work in technology more directly.
Posted by Semiconductor Girl (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
And as a female, I could care less about the demographics. I found the story to be pointless. I am a network admin and consider myself to be a true techie. I think the article was well intentioned, but like yourself, i would've enjoyed a piece on women in technology, not a piece on women who have blogs and sites about gadgets. The whole story just seemed a bit about CNET promoting these sites, thus, blowing up the careers of women who have not made any real strides in the technology field. You can either talk or write about gadgets or you can be the inventer or purchase who makes the ultimate decision as to whether a product goes to market. And as a female, I want to be the latter and would love to see more stories like that from CNET.
Posted by gman63 (11 comments )
Link Flag
vogue computing
Not specifically for women but more for fashion conscious or people with specif tech styles.

www.voguecomputing.com
Posted by timintaiwan (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vogue computing
Not specifically 4 women, but I doubt many men will go for
these.
Posted by MiaStrong (18 comments )
Link Flag
vogue computing
Not specifically for women but more for fashion conscious or people with specif tech styles.

www.voguecomputing.com
Posted by timintaiwan (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vogue computing
Not specifically 4 women, but I doubt many men will go for
these.
Posted by MiaStrong (18 comments )
Link Flag
Another Fluffy and Useless Story..........
What's the big deal with women and gadgets? Women have been at the fore front for awhile regarding technology. I blame the media on such fluffy and self promoting Madison Avenue marketing! We live in a new era, where women are doing great things in technology, so, I am perplexed as to why several years later, why all the hoopla over women who purchase technology. Instead of listing how many tech gadgets women own and use and promoting other females who have tech or gadget sites, how about talking about how "every day" women are using technology in their lives. And while you're at it, try running a few meaningful stories about the women who invent technology. Enough with the promoting of sites whose owners are clearly in it for fame and for an honorable mention (thus, propelling their careers). They should at least be self depracating and humble (which does not appear to be the case to me).
Posted by gman63 (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another Fluffy and Useless Story..........
What's the big deal with women and gadgets? Women have been at the fore front for awhile regarding technology. I blame the media on such fluffy and self promoting Madison Avenue marketing! We live in a new era, where women are doing great things in technology, so, I am perplexed as to why several years later, why all the hoopla over women who purchase technology. Instead of listing how many tech gadgets women own and use and promoting other females who have tech or gadget sites, how about talking about how "every day" women are using technology in their lives. And while you're at it, try running a few meaningful stories about the women who invent technology. Enough with the promoting of sites whose owners are clearly in it for fame and for an honorable mention (thus, propelling their careers). They should at least be self depracating and humble (which does not appear to be the case to me).
Posted by gman63 (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Man smart, woman smarter
Testosterone is the root of all stupidity.
It's also why Windows is dominant. There's your proof.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Man smart, woman smarter
Testosterone is the root of all stupidity.
It's also why Windows is dominant. There's your proof.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Reply Link Flag
gadgets for girls
THIS ONE IS FOR THE LADIES EVERYWHERE. DOESN'T MATTER WHO THE DESIGN COMES FROM - JUST ADD SOLAR CELLS TO THE LADIES TOTE BAG SO SHE CAN CHARGE ANY GADGET SHE PREFERS ALL DAY. WITH LOVE - FROM REX.
Posted by travelerx1a (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
gadgets for girls
THIS ONE IS FOR THE LADIES EVERYWHERE. DOESN'T MATTER WHO THE DESIGN COMES FROM - JUST ADD SOLAR CELLS TO THE LADIES TOTE BAG SO SHE CAN CHARGE ANY GADGET SHE PREFERS ALL DAY. WITH LOVE - FROM REX.
Posted by travelerx1a (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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