As product designers we do our outmost to understand our users: their motivations, needs, values, emotions. We research our users to create the best products for them, remembering that we are not the users. However, we all have our biases and blindspots, and gender is one of our greatest ones.
Article by Anat Katz-Arotchas
As a society, we tend to assume that the minset of men represents women as well, and we see this tendency not only in tech products, but in all aspects of our culture – law, medicine, psychology, ethics and more. These biases are so rooted into our culture that we simply fail to see them, and we constantly make product decisions that are unintentially biased towards men’s motivations and preferences. As product professionals it’s essential to remember that more often than not, women do have different perspectives that we should unveil and address in a non-stereotypical manner.
Essentially, there are 3 reasons why all of us – in the tech industry – should consider gender and listen to women’s voices throughout the process of product design and development: Because it makes business sense; Because it drives innovation and help us build better products; and because it promotes gender equality.
1. Women make one of the world’s greatest emerging markets
In the next few years the impact of women on the global economy will be at least as significant as that of China and India. Various researches estimate that women control about 80% of the consumer market, between $18-20 trillion annually. On a lecture by Prof. Linda Scott last year, she indicated that the 80% figure has been pretty much stable for many years now – but recent trends have shown a change in its composition: women are moving into more traditionally “male” purchases, like cars, consumer electronics, financial products and more.
And yet, tech companies often fail to create products and services that adequately fulfil women’s needs and motivations. But it doesn’t have to be so. More and more companies are starting to realize their user-related diversity issues and every professional in our field can develop a more inclusive mindset.
2. New perspectives drive product innovation
As product professionals we often look for inspiration. We apply ideas and concepts from different content worlds to spark creativity and innovative thinking. Looking at our products from women’s point of view is the same. As we look through the eyes of our female personas, new ideas come to mind, new user scenarios, and a broader spectrum of motivations. Our research shows that products and services created with a female benchmark tend to be more attractive to men too. It’s simply about creating better and more successful products.
3. Promoting gender equality
Gender diversity and equality in tech is certainly a hot topic these days – which is wonderful. Many women and men, work very hard to make a change for the better in our industry. Most commonly we think about gender balance in tech in terms of leveling the playing field and impacting the proportion of men and women in the tech industry. BUT gender equality is also about the products we create, and how well they serve all our users – men and women alike.