Advice, news, debate
and discussion
all in one place

Design and Gender – Ladies that UX July 2015

Myself and Grace – one of Zebra’s Creative consultants – attended yet another fantastic Ladies that UX meetup last night, this time in the impressive Twitter offices located in the buzzing tourist hub that is Piccadilly Circus! On arrival we were treated to some tasty meze inspired delights and a glass of vino to start the evening…

The first talk ‘Women are from Earth – Gender and Software Design’ was given by the talented Dr Simone Stumpf, a Senior Lecturer at City University London where she is teaching Human-Computer Interaction and Inclusive Design with previous industry experience as a UX Architect.

Simone gave insight into how recent research has uncovered some gender differences in problem-solving that appear to have direct implications on software use. As designers often do not consider gender in their designs, she summarised the research focused on gender categories, including a great example of how to describe gender, using the Genderbread Person!

d and g 2

Simone described how it is unknown whether key gender differences are down to nature or nurture. The question on whether there are gender differences can be answered by 3 main responses:

  1. “Essentialist” response
  2. “Cultural” response
  3. “Gender HCI” response

d and g 3

Simone discussed some interesting cognitive gender differences, explaining how there are hardly any differences between male and female at infancy, but they become much more apparent in adulthood with levels of self-confidence, perception and memory ability to name a few.

With development teams being male dominated, there is the risk of bias or stereotype designs so the key question that must be asked is:

Is your software gender neutral or gender inclusive?”

Simone gave insight into how to design gender inclusively by:

  1. Including different perspectives within the design team

  2. Producing guidelines

  3. Creating personas

Simone concluded by giving one last bit of useful advice;

Inclusive Design = different people but not different designs!”

Next up was Claire Gowler, a Ruby on Rails developer who came down from Sheffield to share her thoughts on how developers and designers can better understand what gender means and how designs can be inclusive for non-binary users.  Claire explained how it is estimated that 1 in 5 users in the UK identify as non-binary, and therefore a lot of users are excluded from software through not asking about gender correctly.

A key issue for non-binary users is the privacy implication software can have. For example for people with multiple profiles, there might be sensitive information and in some instances it can put them in an awkward position when asked for a ‘real’ name. Mark Zuckerberg said that using a Facebook alias would ‘show a lack of integrity’ however there may be many reasons for needing to do this, as shown below:

d and g 4

Claire gave a great summary on how designers can make improvements and improve UX for non-binary users.

Design and Gender 2

Following two thought evoking talks by Simone and Claire, the floor was opened to allow for some amazing discussions, with a wide range of topics including the pay gap between males and females, the discriminatory language used in job ads, as well as addressing the relevance of gender in user research and testing. With plenty of insight to take away from the evening, I think these two thoughts sum up the night well:

If you can design for everybody, you won’t get it wrong

When you assume you know the user, it can quickly become a stereotype – don’t let bias slip in”

We would love to hear your thoughts on the evening, and any comments you have regarding your own experiences with gender and design –

@zebrapeople @juliesims47

Leave a reply

2 responses to “Design and Gender – Ladies that UX July 2015”

  1. Elena says:

    Great post! It was really interesting for me as I wrote my Master’s project on gender differences in advertisement perception) I can share my findings if you’re interested in it. Gender studies in general is very interesting topic, I’m glad that you touched it in your article)

  2. Lauren Elise King says:

    Glad you found it useful Elena, it would be interesting to read the findings from your project. Feel free to send something over to

Leave a Reply

Latest views

Identifying the key challenges faced by startups when hiring for their development teams.

That’s right, I said hiring. Not getting hired. I know, I know – another ‘click bait’ title for you. But, it’s another serious topic. Far too often I hear of companies struggling to hire because candidates are not making it as far as offer stage before withdrawing from the process, or candidates’ feedback to me […]

You may think this is fairly obvious, but you’ll be surprised at the amount of times somebody has gone to meet a company and knows next to nothing about them.

Zebra People has today announced it has joined forces with leading UK executive search and interim firm HW Global Talent Partner. HW Global has taken a controlling interest in the privately-owned London-based firm, launched in 2001 by Nick Cochrane. Zebra People specialises in hiring digital product teams, with typical roles including user experience (UX) and […]

1. Check your employment contract Before you resign, take note of your notice period and any obligations you might have. Make sure you are aware of what’s in your contract when it comes to notice period / gardening leave. 2. Note down your reasons for leaving before resigning This will help you to be clear […]

Things to avoid on your CV We’ve all been there. Totally over your current role. Decide to look for a new job. Start by putting your LinkedIn profile to ‘open to new opportunities’. Start scrolling through then think to yourself, ‘Oh, that one looks good. I could do that’ Click apply. Leads you to a […]

As recruiters we speak to hiring managers all the time helping them to make crucial hires. Sometimes, we’re talking to hiring managers who are starting completely from scratch in an environment that doesn’t understand what UX even means. So where do you start? That’s not an easy question to answer and even more difficult to […]

Having been in recruitment for over 10 years now and over 7 years specifically recruiting for the User Experience sector, I’ve learnt some fairly frank points I’d like to share. The below doesn’t cater for every single scenario and there are plenty more points that could be made, but for the sake of not turning […]