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Can Female Robots Help Humans Overcome Gender Stereotypes?

Taezoon Park, an associate professor in Soongsil University in South Korea, raises some interesting questions about human-robot interaction in Harvard Business Review this week.

Park notes past research on the subject suggests humans view robots as social actors. Park suggests that as a consequence, robots could play an important role in terms of gender stereotyping. Putting gendered robots in non-traditional roles, for example, could help people reconsider their views on male nurses or female security guards.

The problem is that this often works against people’s expectations, and their preferences. Park’s research suggests, for example, that humans tend to view robots with male voices and names as more useful than their female equivalent. Even female robots have trouble with gender politics, it seems.

Park urges us to consider our choices carefully when creating the next generation of humanoids.