Gendered IT

This project explores persisting stereotypes and gendered differences in the acceptance, mastery and perceived competency (digital skills) of working with technology. Furthermore, it will develop different tutorials that introduce the user to technology (programming).

Factsheet

  • Lead department Engineering and information technology
  • Additional departments Business
  • Institute Institute for Human Centered Engineering (HUCE)
    Institute for New Work
  • Research unit HUCE / HuCE – roboticsLab
  • Duration (planned) 01.01.2020 - 31.12.2020
  • Project management Sarah Dégallier Rochat
  • Head of project Sarah Dégallier Rochat
  • Project staff Nada Endrissat
    Jérémie Knuesel
  • Partner BFH-W (New Work)

Starting Point

The digital transformation is often associated with ideals of empowerment and equal opportunity. Yet, many tech companies have built a new economy that often accentuates the inequalities of the old world instead of overcoming them (Thompson, 2018). Feminist scholars have repeatedly brought attention to software industry’s gender discrimination and tech culture’s ‘technochauvinism’ (Broussard, 2018, Wajcman, 2006; 2010), which has made it difficult for women’s perspectives to be considered in designing tech and continues to suggest that women do not have the necessary skills to work with technology. Drawing on research from the field of Science and Technology Studies, the project explores which gendered stereotypes persist and how changes in the way technology is framed and presented might make a difference.

Goal

The project aims to explore the link between gender and technology:

  • It will identify ways in which technology induces specific ways of ‘doing gender’ (e.g. the ways in women and men speak about technology and their self-perceived competence in dealing with technological problems)
  •  It will outline how gender has inscribed itself in the technology (e.g. how the interface design of male designers tends to address male perceptions, rather than female ones)
  • And how the inclusion of a more diverse mindset in the interface design might impact the gendered acceptance and perceived competency

A better understanding of the mutual shaping of gender and technology is necessary in order to

  • explain why women are inhibited from technological domains and activities
  • shift attention from the deficiencies of the users to the design of the technologies
  • overcome the existing barriers for participation in the digital transformation and foster inclusion and empowerment in the industrial context and society at large.
  • develop inclusive technological interfaces

Approach

  • Guidelines for the design of inclusive technologies will be developed based on the concept of participatory design and design for values methodologies
  • A prototype for a tutorial for programming will be developed and tested by target users.
  • Based on the feedback from users, a concept for inclusive tutorials will be developed and later further developed in follow-up projects