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Research: Gender-Inclusiveness Personas vs. Stereotyping: Can We Have it Both Ways?

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CITATION: Gender-Inclusiveness Personas vs. Stereotyping: Can We Have it Both Ways? Charles Hill, Maren Haag, Alannah Oleson, Chris Mendez, Nicola Marsden, Anita Sarma, Margaret Burnett, ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'17), May 2017, pp. 6658-6671. ABSTRACT: Personas often aim to improve product designers' ability to "see through the eyes of" target users through the empathy personas can inspire - but personas are also known to promote stereotyping. This tension can be particularly problematic when personas (who, of course as "people" have genders) are used to promote gender inclusiveness - because reinforcing stereotypical perceptions can run counter to gender inclusiveness. In this paper we explicitly investigate this tension through a new approach to personas: one that includes multiple photos (of males and females) for a single persona. We compared this approach to an identical persona with only one photo using a controlled laboratory study and an eye-tracking study. Our goal was to answer the following question: is it possible for personas to encourage product designers to engage with personas while at the same avoiding promoting gender stereotyping? Our results are encouraging about the use of personas with multiple pictures as a way to expand participants' consideration of multiple genders without reducing their engagement with the persona. VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6f1aJhWGfLM

Material Type: Primary Source

Authors: Alannah Oleson, Anita Sarma, Charles Hill, Chris Mendez, Maren Haag, Margaret Burnett, Nicola Marsden