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In this episode, we explore the qualities in our gadgets that are aimed at a particular gender. Whether it’s as obvious as a pink diamante-studded telephone, or as subtle as a smartphone screen that is slightly too large to fit in the average female hand, these biases are all around us.
We looked for written commentary on how interlinked aspects of sex and gender played out in the history of design and ergonomics, as it gets quite complicated. We were surprised to come up short.
After we put out a call for listeners to participate in our live twitter chat, we received a big response. It is clearly an issue that resonates with a lot of people. If we want to fix our relationship with our gadgets, this is a problem that we urgently need to address.
We talk to a variety of men and women about their experiences with gender and technology. Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino talks to us about the history of gender-bias in kitchens and more, and some of our Restart volunteers offer their own opinions.
More broadly speaking, inclusivity is something that needs to be addressed in the world of technological design. Of course, it is impossible to design a single gadget that is going to be perfectly suited to everybody’s needs. But we need to be more aware of how to distinguish between genuine differences in needs, and artificial norms. This is a difficult area to navigate, but it is what drives our experience of technology from day to day. Technological gadgets, like people, are not always neutral.
[Featured image “Siemens FeTAp 611-2, 1970, découpage ROSA REPTIL” by Flickr user Fernando Clavijo is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0]