Designing gadgets for women

Women really do get the short end of the gadget stick. While surveys have indicated that women have generally as much interest in electronics as most men, most gadgets aimed at Team XX are condescendingly absent any thoughtful additions besides the most superficial touches. (The "shrink it and pink it" approach, quips designer Erica Eden, as quoted and profiled in this Fast Company piece.) I doubt there's fundamentally any difference between designing a gadget for men or for women; simple, powerful, understated design inside and out is appealing to everyone. Garish "fashion" gadgets — like the HP Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam Edition netbook the women from Smart Design's "Femme Den" note looks "cheap and plastic-y in person" — may appeal to some women, but no more than ultra-rugged, overwrought, military-inspired gear appeals to a small subset of men. (Thanks, Robotron!)
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12 Responses to Designing gadgets for women

  1. zuzu says:

    And yeah, it shouldn’t be ‘gadgets for women’ it should be more like ‘gadgets for all people who are not very tech-inclined’.

    Because “women” is code for “not very tech-inclined”???

    How about designing gadgets with features like “gaydar” or “toothing” to help the party sluts find each other at the clubs?

    Bluetooth is such a seriously underutilized technology. What ever happened to scatternets? That’s another technology Linux hackers can implement on the Palm Pre.

  2. DSMVWL THS says:

    My wife is pretty happy with her iPhone. Is that a “gadget for women”? I like mine too.

  3. pewma says:

    Because “women” is code for “not very tech-inclined”???

    No, I was just saying the simplified gadgets(minus the pink part) shouldn’t be aimed at just women but at all genders of the “not very tech-inclined”.

    I have a friend that won’t use my iPhone unless I dial the number for him. Which makes that motorola phone that Rob loves, a great option for him.

  4. Anonymous says:

    MP3 breast implant…music of the spheres, indeed!

  5. Duffong says:

    Until they accidentally give women the right to vote, I don’t see how or why anyone would design a product specifically for them. Sheesh.

  6. Gloria says:

    @Zuzu: *Some* vibrators … but not all!

  7. zuzu says:


    Did you know that women have special dental needs? Femident!

  8. zuzu says:

    Here’s an appealing thought: an MP3 breast implant which will allow surgically-enhanced girls to store and play back their entire music collections from their 36DD assets.

    Clearly this is what we all had in mind, amirite? :p

  9. Akezys says:

    Gestures are quick and easy to learn. Interface is shallow. Both are great since we know that women get easily turned off by too many buttons as they represent options for failure.

    For a group that condemns the ‘shrink it and pink it’ mentality, they seem to have a very shallow view on “what women want” (as if all women want the same thing). Implying that women need less buttons and features because it is ‘to difficult to use/intimidating/makes it easier to fail’ is ludicrous and rife with stereotyping and bias.

  10. zuzu says:

    Exactly, and I think Joel already made that point in the article. (It’s as silly as Panasonic Toughbooks overcompensating for a small penis.)

    In what way is gender even germane to the design of gadgets? I struggle to think of any.
    (Other than vibrators, of course.)

  11. ZoopyFunk says:

    Correction: The woman on the right was created for my gadget!

  12. pewma says:

    When I first read the title I thought this was going to be a post about a remake of that horrible horrible 80’s show with Delta Burke.

    And yeah, it shouldn’t be ‘gadgets for women’ it should be more like ‘gadgets for all people who are not very tech-inclined’.

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