How gendered innovations can help make technology safe and effective for all

In 2016, a 21-year-old woman in India committed suicide after someone created a fake Facebook page that featured her face on the body of a scantily clad woman. How did this happen? For one thing, Facebook launched in India without taking into consideration local gender relations. Facebook has subsequently hired more sociologists, psychologists, and anthropologists in efforts to avoid such tragedies.

As technology develops globally, it is important to analyze how it will impact women and girls in specific cultures around the globe. This is the goal of the Gendered Innovations project that seeks to develop methods of sex and gender analysis for scientists and engineers. Crucially, gender analysis needs to be part of research and development design. It needs to be integrated into all phase of research, from deciding what technologies to develop, to gathering and analyzing data, to transferring ideas to market. We can’t simply react. We need to get products, therapies, and infrastructures right from the very beginning.

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