Would females and males be better supported at problem-solving if the problem-solving software they used took into account individual differences that often cluster by gender?
Although gender differences in a technological world receive significant research attention, much of this research and practice aims at how society and education can impact the success and retention of female computer science professionals. The possibility of gender issues within software, however, has received almost no attention. We hypothesize that factors and features within software have a strong impact on how well female problem solvers can make use of the software, and that addressing these factors can help both female and male problem solvers. Evidence from other fields and preliminary investigations in our own have already revealed evidence supporting this hypothesis.
We are investigating the ways software supports or inhibits male and female problem solvers. We term this research topic "gender HCI" to reflect its focus on human-computer interaction (HCI) properties that take gender differences into account in the design of software. For a more complete discussion of Gender HCI see the Wikipedia article.
The GenderMag Method consists of a gender-specialized cognitive walkthrough and a set of four GenderMag personas.