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Posts in category 'Gender'

11 January 2013

Intel’s ‘Women and the Web’ report

womenandtheweb

From the press release:

Intel Corporation released a groundbreaking report on “Women and the Web,” unveiling concrete data on the enormous Internet gender gap in the developing world and the social and economic benefits of securing Internet access for women. To better understand the gender gap, Intel commissioned this study and consulted with the U.S. State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, UN Women and World Pulse, a global network for women. The report issues a call to action to double the number of women and girls online in developing countries from 600 million today to 1.2 billion in 3 years.

On average, across the developing world nearly 25 percent fewer women than men have access to the Internet, and the gender gap soars to nearly 45 percent in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, according to the report. Further, the study found that one in five women in India and Egypt believes the Internet is not appropriate for them.

Seeing another 600 million women online would mean that 40 percent of women and girls in developing countries — nearly double the share today — would have access to the transformative power of the Internet. This goal, if realized, could potentially contribute an estimated US $13 billion to $18 billion to annual GDP across 144 developing countries.

The report’s findings are based on interviews and surveys of 2,200 women and girls living in urban and peri-urban areas of four focus countries: Egypt, India, Mexico and Uganda, as well as analyses of global databases. The findings were unveiled during a panel discussion today in Washington, D.C. as part of the 2-day international working forum on women, ICT and development hosted by the State Department and UN Women.

9 June 2012

Genevieve Bell: women are tech’s new lead adopters

4010576-3x2-340x227

Social scientist Genevieve Bell – who is also the interaction and experience research director at Intel Labs – gave a major talk on what the future of technology looks like, and why middle-aged women may determine that future.

The talk, entitled “Telling the Stories of the Future: Technology, Culture and What Really Matters”, was the keynote at the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association Conference that took place in Brisbane in April, and was rebroadcast as a “Big Idea Talk” on Australian Radio.

Alexis Madrigal explores her talk in more depth at Atlantic, and cites some quotes, including these ones:

“It turns out women are our new lead adopters. When you look at internet usage, it turns out women in Western countries use the internet 17 percent more every month than their male counterparts. Women are more likely to be using the mobile phones they own, they spend more time talking on them, they spend more time using location-based services. But they also spend more time sending text messages. Women are the fastest growing and largest users on Skype, and that’s mostly younger women. Women are the fastest category and biggest users on every social networking site with the exception of LinkedIn. Women are the vast majority owners of all internet enabled devices – i.e. readers, healthcare devices, GPS – that whole bundle of technology is mostly owned by women.

So it turns out if you want to find out what the future looks like, you should be asking women. And just before you think that means you should be asking 18-year-old women, it actually turns out the majority of technology users are women in their 40s, 50s and 60s. So if you wanted to know what the future looks like, those turn out to be the heaviest users of the most successful and most popular technologies on the planet as we speak.”

“Furthermore, most consumers don’t own devices just by themselves, those devices exist within social networks. Consumers share devices in families, so that a mobile phone is owned by multiple people, a laptop is used by multiple people, an email account is used by multiple people. [...]“

Listen to audio (mp3)

10 March 2012

Striving and Surviving: exploring the lives of women at the Base of the Pyramid

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On International Women’s Day, the GSMA mWomen Programme released a study called “Striving and Surviving – Exploring the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid,” reports MobileActive.org.

Drawn from 2,500 interviews with women (aged 16-64 in both rural and urban areas) living on less that $2 a day in Egypt, India, Papua New Guinea, and Uganda, the report looks at how mobile technology influences the way women approach health, economic development, and family relationships, and what mobile operators can do to reach more low-income women.

The report is divided into three parts; part one looks at the social, cultural, and economic factors that women at the base of the economic pyramid face in their daily lives, part two looks at the role of mobile technology in their lives, and part three looks at how technology can be used to further reach low-income women.

Some of the statistics pulled from the report show that when asked what the key benefits of mobile would be: [quoted from report]

  • 80% reported being connected to friends and family
  • 58% said it would be useful in an emergency
  • 40% said it would cut down on travel time
  • 15% believed it would help them feel secure
  • 93% reported that mobile phones made them feel safer, while the same proportion particularly valued being connected to friends and family.
  • 41% reported that owning a mobile had helped them increase their income or their professional prospects
  • 85% of mobile owners reported a greater feeling of independence

The study found that despite general positive feelings toward mobile technology, there are many challenges to getting mobile technology into the hands of low-income women. Gender imbalances were a major issue, as although some women had access to mobile phones through friends or family, few owned their own mobile phone. Another major issue was technical ability, as “while 77% of BoP women have made a mobile phone call, only 37% have sent an SMS, regardless of literacy levels.” Among women who were surveyed, 22% who reported not wanting a mobile phone said their reason was because they would not know how to use it.

Other concerns women listed for using mobile phones were a lack of regular access to electricity to keep the phone charged, concerns about theft, and concerns about ownership and usage costs. Furthermore, family pressure was a large influence on women’s view of technology as the report states: “In addition to doubts about the cost/benefit analysis of mobile ownership, 64% of married women who do not wish to own handsets cited the disapproval of their husbands as a principle reason for not wanting to own a phone.”

“Striving and Surviving” also examines how mobile operators can increase their outreach to women at the base of the pyramid by addressing women’s concerns. By developing family plans and reaching out to male and female customers by highlighting security and family connectivity available through mobile technology, mobile operators can broaden their customer base while getting technology into the hands of women who need it.

An interesting aspect of the report is the Portraits series, a fictionalized account of eight women from the base of the pyramid who use mobile technology and explain how that technology fits into their everyday lives. The stories are interspersed throughout the final report, but are also collected in a separate paper called “Portraits: A Glimpse into the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid.”

Although the accounts are fictionalized, they are drawn from the research that went into creating “Striving and Surviving – Exploring the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid.” The reports look at the lives of everyday women and how they use and view mobile technology.

Because the data for the report is drawn from only four countries, the GSMA mWomen Programme has made all of the research tools used to create this report publicly available at www.mwomen.org to inspire further research.

- Executive summary
- Report download
- Portrait series
- Research tools

3 March 2012

Do m-health tools really work? Testing the impact of mobile technology on maternal and child healthcare

Mobile Pics 2-41

MobileActive has posted an in-depth new case study that focuses on evaluating mobile health interventions.

Written by Kate Otto, the case study looks at testing the efficacy of using mobile phones in health care in Ethiopia. A team of researchers from The World Bank and Addis Ababa University developed a mobile tool that enables rural community health workers to improve antenatal care and delivery services, improve vaccination coverage, and facilitate emergency referrals. The team is taking the evaluation process beyond the usual survey method and are instead rigorously testing the mobile phone effects through more rigorous research.

The researchers randomly selected three Ethiopian districts and applied the tool in three ways:

  • Treatment 1: All Health Extension Workers (HEW) received mobile phones equipped to perform the three use cases (improving antenal care/delivery, vaccination coverage, and emergency referrals).
  • Treatment 2: All HEWs and two Volunteer Community Health Workers (VCHW) within each district received mobile phones; HEW phones are software-equipped for the three use cases, while VCHWs received dumbphones intended to make missed calls only.
  • Control: No mobile phones distributed.

The test is on-going, but the results will be applicable to organizations that are considering deploying mobile tools into their work. The research is not looking at developing a scalable mobile tool, but is rather examining how mobile tools are used and how they compare to existing methods

Read case study

14 December 2011

Women to dominate tech

Women technology

Chip maker and technology group Intel says that women are emerging as the dominant users of technology and if it continues to enhance its ease of use, the fairer sex will continue to dominate the adoption of technology.

This is the opinion of Genevieve Bell, Intel fellow and director of interaction and experience research, who noted that European women spent more time on social networks than men, sent more text messages and used more location-based services on phones.

Read article

 
10 July 2011

Smart Design’s Femme Den series on gender and design

Triumph
Smart Design’s think tank presents an ongoing discussion of how gender should be included in good design – all published in a new series on Fast Company.

The Femme Den started thinking about gender and design five years ago as an expansion of Smart Design’s commitment to understanding people.

Introduction
Smart Design’s think tank presents an ongoing discussion of how gender should be included in good design.

Women are 85% of the consumer market. But how do you reach them?
“Approach women like you do wild animals, with caution and a soothing voice.” I have to agree. Targeting a female audience requires a delicate, nuanced approach.

Why girly designs directed at women often backfire
Women don’t always take kindly to being isolated by gender or being told that they’re “different.” There needs to be a rock-solid rationale for separate, visible design solutions.

How a gadget can draw women while impressing men
Good technology doesn’t necessarily have to be overly complicated. Just look at the Flip video camera, whose intuitive UI appealed to women, while still impressing techie men.

20 May 2011

Publicity and the culture of celebritization

Kiki Kannibal
Danah Boyd, researcher at Microsoft Research New England and Fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society, wrote a long post on the social factors involved in celebritization.

“As information swirls all around us, we have begun to build an attention economy where the value of a piece of content is driven by how much attention it can attract and sustain. It’s all about eyeballs, especially when advertising is involved. Countless social media consultants are swarming around Web2.0, trying to help organizations increase their status and profitability in the attention economy. But the attention economy doesn’t just affect the monetization of web properties; it’s increasingly shaping how people interact with one another.

Teens’ desire for attention is not new. Teens have always looked for attention and validation from others – parents, peers, and high-status individuals. And just as many in business argue that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, there are plenty of teens who believe that there’s no such thing as bad attention. The notion of an “attention whore” predates the internet. Likewise, the notion that a child might “act out” is recognized as being a call for attention. And it’s important to highlight that the gendered aspects of these tropes are reinforced online.

So what happens when a teen who is predisposed to seeking attention gets access to the tools of the attention economy?”

Read article

18 May 2011

Mobiles for Women. Part 2: The Darker Side.

Woman with mobile at market
Targeting women with mobile phones and mobile-based projects can bring great benefits and opportunities, as MobileActive outlined in Part 1 of its series on women and mobiles [see also this blog post].

But, there is a “darker side” to this world, which includes changes in gender relations and power dynamic, a potential increase in violence, substitution of money or a change in expenditures, invasion of privacy, and increased control by a male partner.

Read article

11 May 2011

Mobiles for Women. Part 1: The Good.

Blackberry
As mobile penetration increases across the developing world, the entry of mobile phones in the hands of women causes reactions. In many cases, mobile phone ownership empowers women in myriad ways: economic gains, increased access to information, greater autonomy and social empowerment, and a greater sense of security and safety.

But, there is a darker side. Targeting women with mobile phones can cause changes in gender dynamics and family expenditures and may relate to increases in domestic violence, invasion of privacy, or control by a male partner.

This article will look at the pros and cons of targeting women with mobiles in the developing world.

Part One (“The Good”) highlights the current landscape and identify some of the benefits of mobile tech for women. It also includes a brief discussion on some the challenges and barriers.

Part Two of this series will get at the darker side and identifies some of the potential dangers in targeting women with mobiles.

11 February 2011

Female interaction – design for advanced electronic products

Female Interaction
Female Interaction is a 2.5 year, DKK 4.7 mio (630,000 euro / 850,000 usd) multidisciplinary research project focusing on female interaction design for advanced electronic products, in particular on how to make these products attractive and convenient to use for females – and for the rest of the world

User-driven development methods and tools are being developed and tested – focusing on the demands and desires of female users.

The project, which is co-financed by the Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority (DEACA) as part of its programme for user-driven innovation, brings together development and market-research specialists, scientists and designers in an interdisciplinary collaboration.

Female Interaction has been initiated by design-people in collaboration with Aalborg University, Aarhus University, Bang and Olufsen, GN Netcom, Danfoss and Lindberg International.

The project sets out to offer a novel approach to user-driven innovation in businesses by bringing together scientists, businesses, designers and market analysts for purposes of developing new process models and guidelines and new results for the benefit of the user.

15 December 2010

Designing (for) women

Erica Eden
AIGA has uploaded the videos of the 2010 Gain conference.

Erica Eden, senior industrial designer at Smart Design, and co-founder at Femme Den, was one of the speakers with her talk “Designing (for) Women: Bridging the Gap Between Assumptions and Realities“.

Femme Den, said the host introducing Erica on the video, “is a group inside Smart that focuses on women, as consumers, as final users but also as designers. [...] They look at women as a departure point for an ‘extended usership’ project. Extended usership is when you look at a minority that might have some kind of setback like being a woman and you decide to actually take that as a departure point for the design process to be used by everybody.”

Abstract
Why is gender important? Smart Design’s Femme Den explores the gap between assumptions and realities about women. As practicing designers, they apply new ways to design for the elusive women’s market. To create products and experiences that women love, designers must better understand their lives, as well as their clients’ objectives and perspectives. Femme Den co-founder Erica Eden will discuss methodologies to meet the needs of, and effectively communicate with, these three interconnected groups.

- Watch video
- Download transcript
- Download slides

New York Times story on Erica Eden

21 August 2010

Gender differences in web usability

Gender and technology
Frank Spillers thinks the User Experience community has not fully tapped the potential of gender-specific design aka Woman-centered Design.

According to Spillers, gender as an audience sensitive criteria (differentiation) is barely present in North American technology product design (where it is much easier to do) let alone Web experiences. In Asia there is more design innovation in this area, he says, and Spillers cites the example of Toshiba’s Femininity series.

Comscore just released a new study last month (June 30 2010) entitled Women on the Web: How Women are Shaping the Internet.

The worldwide study adds some key insights into the growing research on gender differences on the Web and in particular around social networking usage. Spillers reports on the key insights and their implications.

Read article

(via Usability News)

11 April 2010

Interactions Magazine – March/April 2010 issue

interactions
The latest issue of Interactions Magazine is about a new intellectualism of design, write co-editors Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko: one that embraces discourse, dialogue, systems thinking, and the larger role of designers in shaping culture.

Here are the articles available for free online:

interactions: exploring aspects of design thinking
Richard Anderson, Jon Kolko
Popular discussion of “design thinking” has reached a point of frenzy. Unfortunately, there is often little depth to the discussion, and for many, the topic remains elusive and vague. While each issue of interactions has included articles about or reflecting the application of design thinking, this issue addresses the topic a bit more directly.

Evolution of the mind: a case for design literacy
Chris Pacione
As we come to the end of the first decade of the 21st century and what many consider the end of The Information Age, a recent flurry of books, articles, and initiatives seem to indicate that a new, pervasive mind shift is afoot. It’s called design, and like arithmetic, which was once a peripheral human aptitude until the industrial age forced it to be important for everyone, recent global changes and the heralding of a new age are positioning design as the next human literacy.

Design thinking in stereo: Brown and Martin
Paula Thornton
By 2006 an IIT Institute of Design interview with Roger Martin, titled “Designing Decisions,” told of his conversion to the concept when noting the language and behaviors of designer friends. That same year, Tim Brown presented fundamental thoughts on design thinking that also caught my attention. By the end of 2009 both Martin and Brown had released books on the topic.

Designing interactions at work: applying design to discussions, meetings and relationships
Roger Martin, Jennifer Riel
Ultimately, designers and business leaders want the same thing: transformative ideas that can be translated into real value. Yet, even with this common purpose, the interactions between design teams and business leaders often represent the biggest stumbling block to the development of breakthrough ideas. How often has a brilliant design idea been strangled in its infancy by a client who could not, or would not, “get it”? How often is breakthrough innovation stopped short by number crunchers who don’t understand the process of design or the insights afforded by it? And how often do business folks moan that designers lack even the most basic understanding of cost and strategy?

From Davis to David: lessons from improvisation
Liz Danzico
Improv is extending its practicality. Designers have been adopting improvisation design methods in their own practices. Made more visible by organizations such as IDEO and Pixar and the research of people from Elizabeth Gerber at Northwestern University and Steve Portigal at Portigal Consulting, we’re seeing how improvisation can be powerful in interaction design work. With collaboration activities in particular, improv becomes especially important when untangling complex problems that require teamwork or just getting a client unstuck.

Technology first, needs last: the research-product gulf
Don Norman
Design research is great when it comes to improving existing product categories, but essentially useless when it comes to breakthroughs.

Sugared puppy dog tails: gender and design
Elizabeth Churchill
Designers are not passive bystanders in the production, reproduction, reinforcing, or challenging of cultural values. We actively create artifacts and experiences. We design products with implicit or explicit assumptions about how products will be used and by whom. We mentally simulate the product user who is part of an imagined story of the product in use – these imaginary people are drawn from our everyday lives and usually have a gender, perhaps a shape, size, age and ethnicity. Thus we embed imagined, gendered others into our designs, inadvertently reproducing cultural norms because they seem so “natural.” And so in a chain of reification and reproduction, products are wired in subtle ways that reflect and reinforce existing cultural assumptions.

The lens of feminist HCI in the context of sustainable interaction design
Shaowen Bardzell, Eli Blevis
One might identify feminism’s central tenets as commitments to agency, fulfillment, identity, equality, empowerment, and social justice. I think these commitments make feminism a natural ally to interaction design. As computers increasingly become a part of everyday life, feminism is poised to help us understand how gender identities and relations shape both the use and design of interactive technologies – and how things could be otherwise, through design.

MyMeal: an interactive user-tailored meal visualization tool for teenagers with eating disorders
Desmond Balance, Jodie Jenkinson
Since patients with eating disorders (EDs) have demonstrably abnormal perceptions of the size of food, a meal-visualization tool could help patients with EDs feel more comfortable about portions by helping them understand what appropriate food portions look like in the context of a balanced meal.

On design thinking, business, the arts, STEM …
Jon Kolko, Richard Anderson
Why [is it] only now [...] that the language related to the intellectual and intangible aspects of design is beginning to catch on?

8 March 2010

Ethnography informs text-free UI for illiterate people

Indrani Medhi
Indrani Medhi, an Associate Researcher at Microsoft Research India where she works in the Technology for Emerging Markets team, designed a text free user interface for illiterate populations.

“A student of design, Medhi has developed text-free user interfaces (UIs) to allow any illiterate or semi-literate person on first contact with a computer, to immediately know how to proceed with minimal or no assistance.

As Medhi points out, in text-based conventional information architecture found in mobile phones and PCs, there are a number of usability challenges that semi literate people face. By using a combination of voice, video and graphics in an innovative way, Medhi has overcome this challenge.

Medhi discovered the kind of barriers that illiterate populations face in using technology through an ethnographic design process involving more than 400 women from low-income, low-literate communities across India, the Philippines, and South Africa.”

Read full story

26 February 2010

Women and mobile

Women and mobile
Women & Mobile: A Global Opportunity is a study on the mobile phone gender gap in low and middle-income countries.

Mobile phone ownership in low and middle-income countries has skyrocketed in the past several years. But a woman is still 21% less likely to own a mobile phone than a man. Closing this gender gap would bring the benefits of mobile phones to an additional 300 million women. By extending the benefits of mobile phone ownership to more women, a host of social and economic goals can be advanced.

The Women & Mobile report is the first comprehensive view of women and mobile phones in the developing world. This report, sponsored by the GSMA Development Fund and Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, explores the commercial and social opportunity for closing the mobile gender gap. The report builds off of a survey conducted with women on three continents to show their mobile phone ownership, usage, barriers to adoption and preferences. The report shows how mobile phone ownership can improve access to educational, health, business and employment opportunities and help women lead more secure, connected and productive lives. It also includes ten case studies highlighting the strategies and tactics that both mobile network operators and non-profit organizations across the globe are implementing to increase the usage and impact of mobile phones around the world.

The study report was launched at the 2010 Mobile World Congress by Rob Conway, CEO of the GSM Association (GSMA), Cherie Blair, Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and Brooke Partridge, CEO of Vital Wave Consulting.

Download study

17 October 2009

Myths and realities about women and mobile phones

Women and mobile phones
Mobile phones have been a boon to developing countries and to social development. Access to mobiles may indeed allow for better medical information, change the way farmers grow and sell crops, expand the way families interact, influence the way governments treat their citizens, and improve the way students learn in schools.

But, asks MobileActive in its ongoing series on Mobile Myths and Realities: Deconstructing Mobile, what is the real story behind these benefits? And who really gains from them?

In her contribution to the series, Anne-Ryan Heatwole looks at “how women are or are not benefitting from the ubiquity of mobile telephony”.

“Mobile technology has the ability to change the way we communicate, but its effects are not evenly distributed. In societies that are divided by social and gender roles, women, especially rural women, are often left out. Gender disparity in society is often echoed in mobile usage; while technology allows some women greater social and economic freedom, in other cases, it simply upholds previously held social constructs. In the areas of social interactions, education, and economics, mobile phones have a distinctly gendered impact on its users. An examination of research and case studies that focus on women and mobile technology reveals that although access to mobile telephones has many benefits for female users, it not a solution to female poverty or gender inequality.”

Read full story

26 September 2009

Design and gender: going beyond shrink it and pink it

Gender
Femme Den is a small internal cadre of designers of Smart Design — the company that was responsible for the OXO Good Grips kitchen tools and the Flip Mini Digital Camcorder — that is devoted to thinking about the differences between genders and what that means for product development.

“The Femme Den started as an underground collective of international women searching for answers in a world that was not designed for us. We’ve now grown to a leading team of design researchers, industrial designers, and engineers who are paving the way for a deeper understanding around design and gender.

Armed with our unique toolkit of know-how and fresh design methods, we create products that make a positive impact on people’s lives, particularly women’s. We bring our knowledge to life in the products we design–from the kitchen to the ski slopes to the emergency room.”

A series of articles on Fast Company provide more background on their work:

Forget “shrink it and pink it”: the Femme Den unleashed
by Kate Rockwood – From Issue 139 | October 2009
Boobs. The Femme Den talks about them easily and often — and about the challenges they present to designers. Backpack makers don’t seem to have a clue what to do about boobs. Ditto designers of unisex hospital scrubs, famous for their gaping V-necks. “One surgeon told me there wasn’t a woman at the hospital whose boobs he hadn’t seen,” says Femme Den member Whitney Hopkins.

Femme Den’s five tenets of designing for women
by Kate Rockwood – From Issue 139 | October 2009
1. EMPHASIZE BENEFITS OVER FEATURES: Rather than touting feature sets and specs (how fast or big or slick something is), make the product’s benefits clear. Who can it connect her to? How does it make her life easier? How will it save …

Design in action
by Kate Rockwood – From Issue 139 | October 2009
The Femme Den points to an array of products that smartly and subtly consider women in their design.

Examining design values: warm, cold, or just right
by Erica Eden – Sep 25, 2009
How products can hit a sweet spot between traditionally female (Warm) and male (Cold) values.

Designing for gender, when one or both parties reap the rewards
by Yvonne Lin – Sep 24, 2009
The most successful products are designed for one sex but embraced by both.

How companies can woo women with design
by Agnete Enga – Sep 23, 2009
When shopping, men tend to go linear and deep, researching a product in detail and then going in for the kill. Women go wide, gathering information that goes beyond herself and her personal needs.


Hunter vs. gatherer: gender differences on the mind
by Whitney Hopkins – Sep 23, 2009
Most of us are only aware of obvious physical or behavioral attributes that differ between genders. But our differences run deeper–to the way we think, the way we act, and to our primitive desires.

Why designers need to talk about sex
by Femme Den – Sep 22, 2009
It’s about time the design industry got serious about gender differences.

Introducing the Femme Den: going beyond “shrink it and pink it”
by Linda Tischler – Sep 21, 2009
The Femme Den aims to go far beyond the traditional “shrink it and pink it” strategy that manufacturers often employ when targeting the female market.

Sex and electronics – Part 1: women and smart design
by Linda Tischler – Jan 13, 2009
In the wake of CES, a pair of women designers offer some suggestions on how consumer electronics manufacturers could boost their market share by taking gender differences into account.

Sex and electronics – Part 2: Femme Den’s favorite gadgets from CES
by Linda Tischler – Jan 13, 2009
Here are the gadgets they loved at CES… and the ones they want to send back to the locker room.

24 September 2009

Communication and human development: the freedom connection?

Berkman
Canada’s International Development Research Center and Harvard’s Berkman Center convened a conversation at Harvard yesterday on the future of information and communication technology and development (ICT4D).

Nobel Laureates Amartya Sen and Michael Spence joined Information and Communication Technology (ICT) experts Yochai Benkler and Clotilde Fonseca in a public discussion of the role of communication and ICTs in human development, growth and poverty reduction. Michael Best moderated the discussion. What has changed, been learned, not been learned, needs to be learned, needs to be done most urgently?

Global Voices participated in the event as a media partner, and Ethan Zuckerman and Jen Brea have been twittering and live-blogging the event.

- Part 1: Notes from the Harvard Forum on ICT4D
- Part 2: Mobiles, Markets and making culture
- Part 3: ICT and gender
- Part 4: Are we settling for too late?
- Part 5: ICT4D and, and, and…
- Part 6: What do we need to know?
- Part 7: Focus and health

2 September 2009

Exploring first-time internet use via mobiles in a South African women’s collective

Jonathan Donner
Jonathan Donner, a researcher in the Technology for Emerging Markets Group at Microsoft Research India, has submitted a paper — together with Shikoh Gitau and Gary Marsden — on first-time mobile internet use in South Africa to the upcoming (3rd) conference of the International Development Informatics Association, to be held at Berg-en-Dal in Kruger National Park here in South Africa on 28-30 October 2009.

According to Jonathan, the paper focuses specifically on two questions: what happens when the first and only means of accessing the internet is via one’s mobile? What are the implications for M4D and ICTD?

Abstract

This study reports results of an ethnographic action research study, exploring mobile-centric internet use. Over the course of 13 weeks, eight women, each a member of a livelihoods collective in urban Cape Town, South Africa, received training to make use of the data (internet) features on the phones they already owned. None of the women had previous exposure to PCs or the internet. Activities focused on social networking, entertainment, information search, and, in particular, job searches. Results of the exercise reveal both the promise of, and barriers to, mobile internet use by a potentially large community of first-time, mobile-centric users. Discussion focuses on the importance of self-expression and identity management in the refinement of online and offline presences, and considers these forces relative to issues of gender and socioeconomic status.

Download paper

23 June 2009

Do women need special cell phones? Deutsche Telekom says yes

Woman's phone
In an article with a very stupid illustration, MobileCrunch reports on a short story that appeared in the German version of Technology Review, which states that Gesche Joost, head of the Design Research Lab of Deutsche Telekom Laboratories, says “making things small and pink is not enough”.

“According to Gesche Joost [...], cell phone manufacturers do need to distinguish between the specific needs of men, women, young and elderly people.

Her research has shown that women in particular put emphasis on privacy and look for cell phones that allow them to get contacted by a certain group of people (family, friends, etc.) but by nobody else. Another feature is micro communication. Joost claims that her work has shown that especially young girls want services like Twitter to be installed on their cell phones. A third factor asked for (especially by women with families) is the possibility to organize multiple tasks at the same time just by using the cell phone.”

Luckily a much more detailed synopsis of the actual research itself is also available, in English even:

Woman’s Phone
Exploration of female needs towards information and communication technology (ICT) based on a participatory design process; development of new services and products for female customers in ICT.
Project Partners: IxDS Berlin, T-Mobile International, Product Design Center DTAG, EAF (Europäische Akademie für Frauen in Politik und Wirtschaft)