The Three Harms of Gendered Technology
Marginalised groups experience both immediate and long-term detriment as a result of innovations in information systems. This paper explores three facets of technologically related gendered harm: physical, institutional, and psychological. These harms will be demonstrated by case studies. Firstly, technology can cause physical harm by denying women their bodily autonomy, demonstrated by the public availability of AI software that generates nude pictures of women, and smart home devices used in instances of domestic abuse. Secondly, technology can deny women institutional access, as increasingly widespread algorithms are shown to underperform on marginalised groups. Thirdly, anthropomorphised technology reflects and entrenches harmful stereotypes of women’s submissiveness, causing psychological harm. Reducing harm must go beyond ensuring a diversity of representation in STEM fields. We conclude that effective regulation should focus on the design features in technological innovations.
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