CHI 2014 Workshop

Perspectives on Gender and Product Design: 
Are we living in a 'man-made' world?


Interactive technologies have a profound mediating effect on the way we obtain and contribute to knowledge, relate to each other and contribute to society. Often, "gender" is not a factor that is explicitly considered in the design of these technologies. When gender is considered, products are often designed with idealised models of gendered "users"–designed for men, designed for women, designed for boys, designed for girls, or designed for the "average user" who could be male or female. However, the ways in which gender-bias or gender-neutrality are constructed in the design process and the resulting effect on the interactive artifacts that are produced is not well understood. Further, research within the HCI arena has only begun to scratch the surface of how perceived "gender" influences interactive product use by users of any gender.

Given the impact and potential ramifications of technological products on society, it is imperative that we more deeply understand the tacit and explicit models of gendered practice that underlie design choices and product uptake. We need to inclusively accommodate and integrate different perspectives in shaping our modern day technologies. 

This workshop focuses on the bringing to the fore different perspectives of how gender affects technology design, adoption, appropriation, and possibly resistance. We will address what is missing from the discussion, and why. We will consider what, if anything, needs to change in design methods and perspectives. We will try to elaborate and account for possible gender differences in perceived product value and in actual and perceived ease of use. We will consider whether there are gender-related differences in the creation and experience of delightful engagement with interactive technologies. Examples of issues to be discussed and arenas of potential change are:

  • increasing research and understanding of gender impact on technology design and use
  • consideration of how to increase representation of nuanced gender perspectives within design processes in the technology sector and within fields related to technology production, including computer science and engineering, and also design, design research, and related fields
  • discussing what would constitute gender-agnostic or gender inclusive design/development environments, including consideration of design biases in software tools and in digital and/or physical collaborative design/development settings
  • addressing the lack of discussion regarding gender impact in the fields related to technology design, including the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) whose very charter is to be "user-centric" and inclusive
  • reflecting on the low grant support for academic research which looks at the representation of gendered perspectives in our current discourse, which in turn leads to a lack of reliable, informative and actionable technology & gender research 
This workshop will address these issues with respect to the tools, technologies, and processes we experience and design, both in industry and academia, and with the aim of producing some actionable steps forward.

The workshop will take place as part of the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Toronto, CA, on Saturday April 26th 2014.

Submission to this workshop is closed. 


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