Twitter chat: Are gadgets ever really gender-neutral?

Image by Flickr user Maitri

Image by Flickr user Maitri

We’ve all seen the pinking of gadgets, the iPhone in “rose gold” or the pink flip-phones. While it would be absurd to think these gadgets “appeal to women” – all women, and of course no men 😉 – there must be people who like them.

But the pinking of gadgets, as the most visible attempt at “gendering” of gadgets, seems to obscure the fact that many have more subtle gender-biases built into them.

Last month, for our podcast, we asked for suggestions of experts on this topic – and there was a huge groundswell of interest. We’re just about to record those interviews.

But we’d also like to hear more from you on Twitter – so join us for a Twitter chat on the topic of gendering of gadgets, on 3rd February Friday at 4:30pm London time (5:30pm Brussels and Rome, 11:30am New York and 8:30am California).

We’ll be asking four questions – in this order. If you can’t participate live, please feel free to leave your answers in the comments below, and we will try to incorporate them.

  1. Are hand-held consumer gadgets habitually made for men? If yes, are there any interesting exceptions?
  2. What about house-hold appliances, are they habitually made for one gender or the other? Will “smart” appliances and the Internet of Things alter this?
  3. Is software we use in our day-to-day lives gender neutral? If not, how is it gendered? How much of this intentional?
  4. Why are so many AI “assistants” given women’s names and voices? Will this change?

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2 responses to “Twitter chat: Are gadgets ever really gender-neutral?”

  1. Philip Le Riche says:

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for gender equality and will do anything I can to encourage gender balance in tech (only today I booked an absolutely cracking techie female role model to speak to the girls in the school where I volunteer)…

    … but I have to confess that I can’t quite see how this feeds into Restart’s stated sustainability objectives.

  2. ugomatic says:

    Hi Philip, it’s not just about gender balance. Fixing our relationship with electronics also means understanding the disconnect between marketing of products and their features/functionalities. If a product marketed to women is not designed with their needs and preferences in mind, their chances of enjoying it and holding on to it are reduced.

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