Is Your Roomba Male or Female? The Role of Gender Stereotypes and Cultural Norms in Robot Design

  • Micol Marchetti-Bowick


Whether designed as toys, tools, or commodities, the majority of humanoid robots created today possess gender-specific features that identify them as either male or female. Gendered robots often reflect idealized versions of men and women with perfect physiques and traditional, gender-segregated roles.  As a result, these robots support and even reinforce many of the gender stereotypes that exist in society.  Furthermore, the targeting of robots towards occupations that are predominately female-dominated devalues the contributions that women make to society.  Gendered attributes may or may not be an essential feature of humanoid robot design, but both designers and consumers must nonetheless be aware of the social effects of the way gender is represented in the robots that are produced.