“Gendered or Neutral?: Considering the Language of HCI”

is a research paper co-authored with Adam Bradley (University of Waterloo), Mark Hancock (University of Waterloo), and Sheelagh Carpendale (University of Calgary), presented at the Graphics Interface conference, 2015. This paper was central to my MA thesis, “The Effects of Ambiguity.”

A poster that I created to communicate the results of this research at the English & Innovation showcase held at Communitech, June 2016.

Abstract: In this paper, we present a Mechanical Turk study that explores how the most common words that have been used to refer to people in recent HCI literature are received by non-experts. The top five CHI 2014 people words are: user, participant, person, designer, and researcher. We asked participants to think about one of these words for ten seconds and then to draw an image of it. After the drawing was done we asked simple demographic questions about both the participant and the created image. Our results show that while generally our participants did perceive most of these words as predominately male, there were two notable exceptions. Women appear to perceive the terms "person" and "participant" as gender neutral. That is, they were just as likely to draw a person or a participant as male or female. So while these two words are not exactly gender neutral in that men largely perceived them as male, at least women did not appear to feel excluded by these terms. We offer an increased understanding of the perception of HCI's people words and discuss the challenges this poses to our community in striving toward gender inclusiveness.

Publication: Available on the ACM Digital Library