Androcentrism
in Robots

Humans have a strong pull to identify gender not just in people, but in robots.

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Toolkit
Application
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Smart device
Outcomes
Dismantle societal constructs when designing bots and voice assistants.

“One may ask, what’s the harm in these gendered assistants? One problem is the continued reinforcement of women as always helpful, pleasant, organized, and never angry.”

— Cathy Pearl

Androcentrism is the practice, conscious or otherwise, of placing a masculine point of view at the center of one’s world view, culture and history, thereby culturally marginalizing femininity. Voice assistants products in life (reality prime) and Artificial Intelligence products in science fiction suggests we have a bias when it comes to robots’ gender assignments. These stereotypes have an impact on our relationships with real people as much as it has for voiced products.

How do we design bots and voice assistants without having a default gender and categorize male voices to be an authority and female voices to be helpful and accommodating? This brings up concepts like the Smurfette Principle, where a character’s most important and interesting quality is her femaleness, and The Bechdel Test where a character will default as “socially male” if they don’t appear to have a specific gender (R2D2).

Hey, Human

Hey, Human is a chatbot that interrupts your daily life for you to do certain assignments. It encourages the user to be more active and rethink the way we design bots and voice assistants.

Further Reading

Androcentrism

Wikipedia

Defines the concept and the use of this practice in every day life.

Men are Generic, Women are Special

TV Tropes

Looks at media and language effects on gender constructs and representation.

A Default Gender

Cathy Pearl

Explores the concept of social gender and robots.

Gender Presentation and Distributions in sci-fi AI

Christopher Noessel

Analyzing data to answer questions like “Are female AIs more subservient than male AIs?”

The Bechdel Test

TV Tropes

A test created by Alison Bechdel for female presence in fictional media.

The Smurfette Principle

TV Tropes

Questions why a character’s only defining quality would be their femaleness.

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