Section Four - Gender bias in technology
A story about a world designed by men for men and Viagra (13 minutes)
In crash course one we talked about the unexpected consequences of technology. A famous example is Viagra. A drug that was originally developed by Pfizer for the treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure) and angina pectoris (chest pain due to heart disease). During the clinical trials, researchers discovered that the drug was more effective at inducing erections than treating angina.
Bam! Poster story of unexpected consequences of technology!
A much less known story is that when Viagra was first researched there were promising initial results in treating period pain. However, when it became clear that there were other - for men more exciting ways - to use Viagra funding shifted and Viagra became a wildly succesful drug. The world is not designed for women.
The world is designed by men for men.
Crash Test Dummies
A world that is designed by men for men, can have very serious, even lethal consequences for women. Caroline Criado Perez wrote a book on it (Invisible Women) and talks about a poignant example, namely that of crash test dummies in the next video (5 minutes).
Of course, in this section we can list all kinds of examples where technology is not designed for women. But we thought it would be better to put you to work on it yourself. Can you find surprising, inspiring or abrasive examples? Use this template (CC_Six_Exercise.pptx) to list them.
Here is our answer (Course_six_Exercise_answered.pptx) but we have no doubt that you have found much better examples.
Much more can be found in the additional materials section (six).
Take aways from section four:
- Technology is often designed by men for men;
- Technology not designed for women can even have lethal consequences;
- It also explains why women often feel cold in the office.
- AI often is trained with gender biased data, so is likely to be gender biased as a result.