Do you know that the average circumference of a woman’s hand is about 1 to 2 inches smaller than that of an average male? Actually, does Silicon Valley know?
sat down with TED Talk host and author Carolyn Creedo Perez, who wrote the book Invisible women, To talk about data bias in a world designed for men. In the book, she argues that the problem of gender bias in technology design is systemic. “Most of the people who design phones are men, so they are designing for the size of a man’s hand.”
Examples abound. Flagship smartphones such as the iPhone 12 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra are too large for most women (and some men) to use one-handed. The original iPhone was considered huge for its time in 2007, with a larger 3.5-inch screen, and has grown exponentially over the past decade, pushing size limits with more plus models. Now it is difficult to find a premium phone with a screen smaller than 6 inches. The Ultra and Pro models are even bigger with all the best features.
Of course, manufacturers also offer smaller sizes in addition to their flagship behemoths, but they are often less powerful. “I don’t want to be small because it’s not as good,” Criado Perez told . “I want good technique in the same way that a man does. I want to be able to wear it and not put it on [an accessory] I can hold my phone on it. “
On par with the newly announced Apple iPhone 12 mini game iPhone 12. This is another step in the right direction, but it still leaves more users than the premium features of the iPhone 12 Pro.
Big, wide world of prejudice
Inequality in design is not just limited to smartphones. In 2014, Apple launched its “comprehensive” health tracker app. This intake of molybdenum and copper allowed people to track almost everything from daily movement and exercise. Consumption of copper! Nonetheless, despite incorporating such niche tracking capabilities, Apple has failed to include something that would arguably be more useful to nearly half of its customers: period tracking.
“It just existed in forgotten periods,” says Criodo Perez. “That’s why? There weren’t enough people who had a period on the design team.”
Such issues extend beyond Apple and also beyond gender-related design. Another example of the unconscious bias cooked up in technology is facial recognition. Many modern mobile phones offer facial recognition as a way to unlock your phone and verify your identity – but due to certain design and test flaws, the algorithms underpinning these systems often have darker skin. Trouble recognizing faces with.
Clearly, there is still a huge amount of work to be done to fix these systemic issues – but the good news is that some forward-looking CEOs are finally starting to do something about it.
This is episode 1 Uneven Designed: When Techniques Miss The Mark, Where we talk about the ways in which the tech industry dropped the ball when it was fully inclusive.