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It’s What You Call It: Gendered Framing and Women’s and Men’s Interest in a Robotics Instruction Task

Sarah Morton, Julie A Kmec, Matthew E Taylor

Abstract


Technology has historically been a male-dominated field. Prior research fails to consider how the context of robotics activities might impact men’s and women’s perceptions of robotics tasks.  Our study is a survey experiment of 132 men and women and seeks to understand 1) whether women and men have different interest in robotics instruction tasks 2) whether describing a robotics instruction task scenario as feminine (teaching the robot), masculine (programming the robot), or gender neutral (training the robot) relate to women’s and men’s interest in robotics instruction tasks and 3) whether perceptions that instructing robots to perform tasks is good for society or requires natural talent impacts women’s interest in the robotics task more strongly than men’s interest.  Contrary to our hypotheses, we find that women are more interested in most of the robotics instruction tasks than are men, and that framing the robotics instruction task scenarios as feminine produces worse outcomes for women in some of the robotics tasks.  We also find that both men and women who think instructing robots to perform tasks is beneficial to society are significantly more likely to have interest in the robotics tasks than those who do not hold these views.  We provide possible explanations for these findings, as well as theoretical and practical implications.


Keywords


gender, STEM education, human-robot interaction, technology

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