Gender-Inclusive HCI

Gender-Inclusive HCI
Gender-Inclusive HCI

What is Gender and Inclusive HCI Design?

User-Sensitive Inclusive Design is a concept that embraces designing for marginalized groups of people and considering different types of users. This includes considering users’ gender while designing or evaluating software, websites, or other digital technology. Empirical research has shown gender differences in software and other digital technology use. This calls for attention to focus on “Gender-Inclusive HCI,” which mainly aims to address gender stereotypes and produce gender-inclusive designs.

Why Investigate Gender in Inclusive Design?

Three primary motivations underlie work in gender-inclusive design: economic, ethical, and political.

  1. Economic Motivation: Women are significant users of software, apps, and social networking sites. For example, women in the USA and UK are more likely than men to engage in social media shopping activities[1]. In addition, women constitute a large portion of social networking site users, such as Facebook (43.4% worldwide[2]) and Linkedin (42% worldwide[3]). Therefore, female users’ needs and expectations should be examined when designing technologies.
  • Ethical Motivation: the inclusive design perspective denies marginalizing any gender from technology design. Accordingly, it is an ethical argument to support gender inclusivity. Unintended gender bias could arise because most technology designers and developers are men (could reach 80% in some cases). Bearing in mind that, HCI designers should work in creating technology to be equally usable and useful for all genders.
  • Political Motivation: the inclusive design perspective is also motivated by the political feminist ideologues that seek to progress the agenda related to gender equality and the digital divide. The feminist approach prioritizes gender inclusiveness in technology use and design because gender is embodied in historical and contemporary representations of women as consumers and designers.

How to Embed Gender Perspectives in Technology Design?

Different approaches and models could be adopted to achieve a gender-inclusive design. In particular, reflective and critical design are two approaches to considering gender in design. These approaches critically analyze the data collection methods and design process to draw attention to embedded gender scripts. Furthermore, Gender Extended Research and Development (GERD) stimulates reflections regarding all stages of the design process, which can bring ’women’s personas into the picture. Overall, gender can be addressed through careful design: by considering gender as part of the design process, producing gender-inclusive technology as a natural outcome of the design process, and offering gender-inclusive features.

Personas and Future Research:

Future research could investigate how to achieve gender representation in personas [2] and understand gender stereotypes in personas [3]. More work in this direction might yield a better understanding of female users and design gender-inclusive guidelines and heuristics.


[1] Stumpf, S., Peters, A., Bardzell, S., Burnett, M., Busse, D., Cauchard, J., and Churchill, E. (2020). Gender-inclusive HCI research and design: a conceptual review. Number: 1 Publisher: Now Publishers

[2] Salminen, J., Jung, S.-G., and Jansen, B. J. (2019). Detecting demographic bias in automatically generated personas. In Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI EA ’19, pages 1–6. Association for Computing Machinery

[3] Salminen, J., Santos, J. M., Jung, S.-G., Eslami, M., and Jansen, B. J. (2020). Persona transparency: Analyzing the impact of explanations on perceptions of data-driven personas. 36(8):788–800. Publisher: Taylor & Francis eprint: