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Oh, Joy! Apparently Robots Are Subject to Sexism, Too
by Alanna Bennett | 2:00 pm, August 24th, 2012
Sometimes (fine, oftentimes), the world makes it abundantly clear that the issue of sexist thought is so deeply ingrained in the heads of us humans that it might still take another few millenia to sink in. It’s days like these when we want to repeatedly hit our heads against concrete.
By the time this far-off time actually takes place, we’ll surely be under the regime of our robot overlords. But even the robots can’t catch a break: They’re suffering from human sexism, too.
Yes, those pesky gender roles aren’t just getting in the way of real-life women getting hired for jobs or gaining respect; “female” robots are being perceived as capable of different things than those who are visibly seen as “male,” despite the fact that both are just chunks of technology.
From a study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology:
Previous research on gender effects in robots has largely ignored the role of facial cues. We fill this gap in the literature by experimentally investigating the effects of facial gender cues on stereotypical trait and application ascriptions to robots. As predicted, the short-haired male robot was perceived as more agentic than was the long-haired female robot, whereas the female robot was perceived as more communal than was the male counterpart. Analogously, stereotypically male tasks were perceived more suitable for the male robot, relative to the female robot, and vice versa. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that gender stereotypes, which typically bias social perceptions of humans, are even applied to robots.
Yeah, you read that right: They’re robots, and they’re still subject to the same sociologically ingrained sexist thought that is usually applied to humans.
More details on the study are still vague to us, as it’s stuck behind a paywall, but it’s an interesting example of how our minds and our socialization are screwing us over. Fun!
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