Feminine gamification viewpoint: Men in STEM reject gender bias research
Recently I was quoted to be feminist as a result of pointing out that in behavioural change and gamification design, we need to be mindful of the subtle differences between feminine and masculine decision and behavioural styles. What I have always said in each presentation on the topic that both men and women have the ability to behave more masculine or feminine in any given situation. Still what some people take away is that women need to be given empathy and that’s it. In my view that’s missing the point a bit.
One of the reasons I pointed out the differences and started this blog theme, is because I kept hearing that there is no difference between men and women for the purpose of gamification design. Intuitively this felt wrong in my view and I went looking for examples as well as research to find out if this was true or untrue. Study upon study I found actually confirmed the differences, mainly because of how we are brought up in society and very culturally influenced gender roles. In designing for behaviour change, in my mind it makes sense to be mindful of your audience and their way of working in order to have your change program accepted first of all and then utilised for the purpose of what it was designed for. I would also encourage taking into account age, racial difference, company and local culture, etc.
Then yesterday I came across an article on a research study that indicated that men in STEM in fact reject the findings of gender bias in STEM much more than other men in non-STEM roles. It was a university study carried out by Princeton researchers. They presented finding of a study to 200 people in a non-university setting and then to university professors, what they found that the male professors in STEM faculties disbelieved the research to a much larger extent than any of the other faculties. When they took out the STEM faculty results, no difference in acceptance was found. Women didn’t give it more or less value than their counterparts in other departments.
When I spoke on the topic at the gamification world congress a lot of my male friends in gamification admitted being a bit rattled by my presentation all the way to completely challenging it. Equally interesting was the response from app and product developers with mainly male teams, who admitted struggling to engage the female audience they were designing for. In cultures where male and female divides are higher, interestingly the suggestion of having women hold workshops with women or finding out one-to-one what you need to know did hit a positive vibe. In my view good design starts with good base understanding of your audience and that implies being mindful of differences however subtle they may be.
I may never convince some designers, but I seriously hope that in gamification design, we don’t fall in the same bracket as the research with male STEM professors.
How do you account for differences in gender, age, race, culture in your gamification design?