More than "Skin Deep"

During my postdoc at KTH, I initially became interested in exploring the potential to use social robots in challenging and breaking gender stereotypes as a response to UNESCO's I'd Blush if I Could report - particularly their damaging account of gendered AI/digital assistants and the role it is playing in maintaining gender divides in computing. Attempting to design a norm-breaking, 'feminist' robot, we experimented with the ways in which a feminine version of the Furhat robot might be able to encourage girls to study robotics, how it might respond to sexist abuse in the context, and if/how different such responses might be able to influence people's gender stereotypes, as well as their perception of the robot more generally.

I am still interested in that line of research (see discussion of social identity performance on the robot ethics page), but whilst the robot shown above is likely what most people think of on hearing 'feminist robotics' or 'feminist human-robot interaction' (it was for me, at least), really it is, could and should be so much more than that. Following the work described above, I've spent the last couple of years engaging in much deeper study of feminist thought within/relating to technology design (aided not least by fantastic collaborators such as Ericka Johnson and Katherine Harrison from Tema Genus/Gender Studies at Linköping).

Together, we've been working to develop a broader notion of Feminist HRI, thinking about how, in practice, feminist thought and scholarship might inform HRI, taking inspiration from Feminist Human-Computer Interaction and Data Feminism. I am delighted that the manuscript we put together based on this work was awarded Best Paper Award (in the Theory and Methods track) at the IEEE/ACM International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, March 2023. For me, this (open access) paper outlines the way I want to approach and think about *all* HRI research, as a mechanism for creating more ethical and effective HRI everday, as well as identifying some exciting and novel avenues of Feminist HRI specifically. Below you can watch a pre-recorded presentation that goes along with the paper - it's not exactly the same as the presentation I gave-person at the conference, but the key themes are the same.

Selected Publications

Winkle, Katie, et al. "Feminist Human-Robot Interaction: Disentangling Power, Principles and Practice for Better, More Ethical HRI" Proceedings of the 2023 ACM/IEEE international conference on human-robot interaction. 2023. Awarded Best Paper: Theory and Methods. Paper

Galatolo, Alessio, et al. "The Right (Wo)Man for the Job? Exploring the Role of Gender when Challenging Gender Stereotypes with a Social Robot." International Journal of Social Robotics (2022): 1-15. Paper

Winkle, Katie, et al. "Boosting robot credibility and challenging gender norms in responding to abusive behaviour: A case for feminist robots." Companion of the 2021 ACM/IEEE international conference on human-robot interaction. 2021. Paper

Winkle, Katie, et al. “Can Feminist Robots Challenge Our Biases?”, IEEE Spectrum Magazine (2021). Link to article