Workplace

Anon

Why is it that many voice activated computer assistants are given female wake names and female voices? Is it because the software was developed by men? Did these men ask permission from real human women before using real human female names as wake words? Did anyone consider the impact this would have on the women or girls? Do these men realise how much chaos, frustration they would cause women and girls who (not by choice) share names with these bots? What if a woman makes a video call to her friends, one of her friends says her name and then the computer device goes off? What if her friends tell her not to say her name any more? What about her identity and dignity? What about her social and educational life? What if a woman (who had her name first) is subject to a constant barrage of jokes and commands? What if she is told she is irritating just for stating her own birth name because saying it apparently makes the music stop, lights go off or the microwave pause? What about girls bullied and sexually harassed at school just because they happen to share a name with an ai program? None of these women and girls chose to be treated this way. They woke up one morning to find the world constantly asking them to “check the weather”, “turn on the lights” or “play [insert name of popular song her]”. This goes on week after week. Why are women name shamed because of the coincidence of sharing their name with a piece of software? What did they ever do to deserve such degrading treatment? What if a small boy sees his Dad yelling in frustration at a device with a real human female name? What does that teach children about how to treat women in general and how to treat women with that name? It bothers me a lot seeing adults and children yelling at machines assigned names that belong to real women. By naming the machine’s default wake words after women and requiring people rudely command the devices with saying “please” or “thank you” sets a very bad example of behaviour for young children and society in general. These devices have essentially become glorified electronic BoBo dolls where the user is rewarded with entertainment and comfort for being lazy and speaking in demeaning ways towards women who through no fault of their own share their names with the default wake word of the device. If people are forced to call an electronic device by a female name transference of the rude behaviour onto real human women with the same name will occur by association. These devices teach people to bully and harass (sometimes sadly even sexually I’ve heard) women who’s name was programmed by someone else to be the wake word. Also the women and girls with the name are forced to into silence by friends/colleagues so as not to wake the device. These women and girls are unfairly being forbidden from saying their own names! What does this do to a person to dread saying their own name while other people yell commands using it constantly? Also the advertising misleadingly refers to the electronic device as “she” and calls the device by the default wake word (which is a common woman’s/girl’s name). So sadly anyone who watches the ads will associate the woman’s name with an electronic “servant” even if that woman has other career plans. The women with the name used to activate the device are unfairly placed into a “do this do that” box. It is the most insidious form of unfair stereotyping I have ever seen in my life. How is this fair or acceptable? This is not okay. This is not cool. This has to stop now. Why do people make jokes about this? Don’t they care? Why can’t non-human connected wake words be programmed into voice activated assistants? Lots of people (especially Sci Fi enthusiasts) enjoy media with robot assistants in the story such as R2-D2. The Sonic games have the E series robots with unique numbers. If a wake word “robot style” code was used similar to these robots then no human beings with human names should be adversely affected or confused with these assistants. Why can’t robot style wake words with numbers and letters instead of using names that already belong to real human women and girls? Or if you’re a Trekkie, why not change the wake word settings to “computer”? A genderless robot sounding voice would be cool too as well as customization. Just some ideas. If they keep using human female names as wake words for voice activated personal electronic assistants then remember… Your name could be next. BTW I am ticking the “I am not a robot” box because I am a human woman.

Addie

Hi. I’m a 16 years old, and I live in the Midwest United States. My family has always encouraged me to pursue my interests and push myself physically and academically, and I actually plan to gradutate high school a year early if I can. I work at a Senior living Facility. Even though some of the people are lovely there, there is one woman who pulled me aside one day and asked me “if I was checking out for a proper husband at my college visits.” Thinking she was joking, I laughed and replied the only thing I was checking out were Mechanical Engineering programs and ROTC. She got rather offended. She replided, “That’s funny. But why should you join the army if your husband will support you?” I said I wanted to serve before settling down. She continued tracking me down every day, asking me why I was afraid of men. Telling me I should do brown instead of black eyeliner, because a cat-eye is too “harsh”, telling me I should watch my carbs. None of this had happened before I told her I was not interested in a husband.

Jess

when i told people that i was joining the royal marine cadets, no one thought i could do it long term, or even keep up with the fitness. 3 years on i am the first female corporal – hopefully a sergeant in november. LADIES YOU CAN DO ANYTHING A MAN CAN DO

N/A

I work for a supermarket and when I moved to university I moved stores so that I could carry on working during the term. When I arrived at my new store I soon realised how different things were. They would purposely put me on tills for my 9 hour shift purely because I was the only woman on shift. My manager and other staff members referred to me as the ’till girl’ and saw that I was only capable of serving, despite working for the company for 3 years previous and doing a variety of different roles. It was humiliating and insulting that they immediately saw me as less than purely because of my gender. They often played on this and when i brought it up they would only change things for a little while and then revert back to how it was. On the off chance I was ‘allowed’ to work stock they would only let me work toilet roll or health and beauty because it was light and they thought that anything else would be too heavy for me and I would be unable to do it. It was extremely insulting and highlighted the subtle prejudices that often go unnoticed by even the perpetrator because they think they are acting in your best interest and are ‘protecting’ you/

Shalvi

1. I was walking back home from work in the evening when a guy on a motorbike smacked my ass from behind really hard, then drove on 10 meters, stopped and grinned. I was too tired and shocked to say anything and he left before I could get his license plate. From then on whenever I walked on the street, I would turn around if I heard a bike behind me. 2. I had just completed high school and cycling with my sister in a university campus when a guy on a motorbike started riding next to us and started masturbating and saying we were so pretty he couldn’t control it anymore. We screamed at him and he took off. 3. My boss always made comments on how immoral it was for women to have guy friends, to drink or smoke etc and he thought that healthy family structures were being destroyed because women had started working. We had respectable debates a couple of times about such topics and needless to say I didn’t like my boss very much. I used to work hard and would also put in extra hours at work when needed. Out of the blue one day my boss asked me to marry him and I was absolutely shocked. I said no and he told me to take my time to think. I explained to him that I didn’t need time, that we were incompatible and so different and after all the disagreement we had had how did he think I ever liked him like that. Over the next two weeks he tried to change my decision, told me I was at fault for his feelings because I put in extra hours at work and he thought I wanted to spend time with him and said that we could compromise, and I didn’t understand what a great person he was and how much he loved me. When I told him no he asked me to resign.

Amy

Abused by my dad since I was young till I was 15. Told “little girls should be seen or not heard.” apparently it’s a joke not funny. Called “bossy, know it all, too loud.” he found it funny to say he could sell me in Egypt in exchange for camels. My uncle believes that women are naturally more extroverted and that’s why they are not suited to science. I got horns honked at me the other day for wearing shorts when running. Some friends of me complaining about girls showing to much skin.

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The other day I received an email inviting me to give a talk at a big conference. The email went on and on about the lack of representation of women at such events and that’s why he (the sender) decided to organize a session with only women. Nothing about the topic of the session or why I’d fit in well as a speaker. How wonderful to hear that He wants to have me in His session, not because of the quality of my work but because I am a woman. And of course, even though I’ve been giving invited talks (and organizing sessions) at said conference for the past 15 years (and he is a recent graduate who has never even attended the conference), I am so happy this Hero is willing to Rescue me.

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One time someone walked into my office demanding that I’d drop everything and make photocopies for him. Another stopped me in the hallway to yell at me because his reimbursement claim had not yet been processed. Both thought I was the secretary. Both were much more junior than me.

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I was preparing to submit my “top 5 of creeps” but deleted it. I’m scared some of them might come across this site and start harassing me again if they recognize themselves. I thought they would have little power over me after all these years but I guess some things just don’t leave you. To those who were brave enough to share their story: THANK YOU. I am sad these things happened to you but it helps to know I’m not alone.

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I work in a male dominated field. I have one female colleague. She was the first female to be hired in 35 years. When she was about one year into the job, a few years before I was hired, our boss told the following joke over lunch: “A woman and a man are sitting in a bar. The woman tells the man that she used to be a man; she had just had her sex change surgery. The man said, ‘Oh, that must have hurt!,’ waving at the woman’s groin. The woman responded, ‘No man, that was actually okay. What really hurt, though, is when they removed half of my brain’.”