Special Issue on GENDERING ROBOTS (GenR): Ongoing (Re)configurations of Gender in Robotics

Guest Editors: 

Dr. Giulia Perugia (corresponding)

Dr. Katie Winkle 

Dominika Lisy 

Ryan Blake Jackson 


The field of HRI is increasingly employing humanoid robots and anthropomorphic designs to aid social interactions between humans and robots. However, designing robots with human-like characteristics can have far-reaching implications. For instance, integrating identity markers such as gender into robotic systems can involuntarily transfer implicit biases into the human-robot interaction (HRI) and perpetuate harmful structural patterns and societal stereotypes. This special issue aims to deepen the social, ethical, and psychological understanding of the attribution of gender to robots, addressing how the design and use of gendered robots might impact HRI and affect society at large. We welcome original papers investigating the attribution of gender to social robots, the influence of robot’s gender on the perception of and interaction with robots (e.g., acceptance, trust), the design of gendered robots, and its ethical and societal implications. Through this special issue, we would like to inspire discussions about the mindful use of robots in society and promote the possibility to use robots to challenge harmful social practices (e.g., gender stereotypes, gender inequality). Our ultimate goal is to bridge the communication gap we observed between the different disciplines addressing the topic of gender in robotics and the lack of spaces to converse with and learn from one another. The Special Issue is based on the GenR workshop “GENDERING ROBOTS: Ongoing (Re)configurations of Gender in Robotics” which will take place on August 12th, 2021 at the 30th IEEE International Conference on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN 2021). However, we expect the special issue to attract additional submissions from other scholars in HRI who may not attend the conference as this is a timely and important topic in our field. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to: 

● Gendering practices in Social Robotics 

● Experimental studies on gendered robots 

● Feminist robotics 

● Robot’s gender design 

● Norm-critical design 

● Queer design in HRI 

● Sex Robots 

● Ethics of Gendered Robots 

● Normative deviance in relation to robot gender 

● Societal implications and applications of gendered robots 

● Performative arts encompassing a reflection on gender in robotics 

● Non-binary perspectives on robot gender

Guest Editor Biographies: 

Dr. Giulia Perugia received a BA in Literature and LinguisticsGiuliaPerugia2 (2011, University of Roma Tre, IT), a M.Sc. in Cognitive Science (2013, University of Siena, IT), and a double degree Ph.D. in Assistive Technologies from Eindhoven University of Technology (2018, TU/e, NL) and the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC, ES). Currently, she is a postdoctoral researcher in Social Robotics at the Department of Information Technology of Uppsala University (SE). She is interested in studying how people’s perceptions and affective states in the interaction with robots can be measured through the interaction itself, how such states and perceptions develop over time, and whether and how the design of and interaction with social robots could reproduce biases and stereotypes existing in society at large. Recently, she has started investigating more profusely the process of gendering robots, how this interacts with robot’s norm violations, and how it could be used to foster a more inclusive HRI. In 2017, she was awarded the Distinguished Interdisciplinary Research Award by the Robotic Society of Japan (RSJ) and the Korean Robotics Society (KROS).

Dr. Katie Winkle is a Digital Futures Postdoctoral ResearchKatieWinkle2 Fellow at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, currently leading projects relating to Feminist Social Robotics and human-in-the-loop robot design and automation with teenagers. Previous to this, Katie completed her PhD at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the UK where her PhD work combined participatory design with human-in-the-loop machine learning to culminate in real world deployment of a robot fitness coach, deployed in a university gym for 3 months, designed and ‘taught’ by a human fitness instructor. Her research is hugely interdisciplinary, drawing on psychology and the social sciences as well as the latest in robotics and AI to engineer effective, meaningful and impactful human-robot interactions. 

Dominika Lisy is a PhD candidate at the Department ofDominikaLisy2 Thematic Studies, Division Gender Studies at Linköping University under the supervision of Katherine Harrison and Ericka Johnson and part of The Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program – Humanities and Society (WASP HS) graduate school. She obtained a BSc in Psychology at the University of Groningen (NL), a MA in Gender studies at the University of Gothenburg (SE), and a MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Skövde (SE). Her PhD project is approaching empathy and social robots from a feminist perspective, particularly new materialist theory and methodology. Since this topic and her background span broadly across several disciplines, Dominika’s research interest is to connect knowledge across fields and combine her enthusiasm for experimental psychology and literacy in feminist philosophy in order to find different ways of thinking and doing research about empathy and what this means for social robots. 

Ryan Blake Jackson is a PhD candidate in the Department ofRyanBlakeJackson Computer Science at the Colorado School of Mines advised by Dr. Tom Williams. Blake’s current research interests fall under the umbrella of human-robot interaction, and include verbal noncompliance and clarification interactions, robot responses to norm violations, attribution of social and moral agency to robots, and the projection of socially constructed attributes of human identity (e.g., gender) onto robots. After graduating from Colorado College in 2016 with a computer science major and a minor in discrete math, he completed his Master's degree in computer science advised by Dr. Tracy Camp at the Colorado School of Mines. Blake has been involved in teaching several classes at Mines, including Computer Science 101, Introduction to Linux, and Computer Vision. He was awarded the EAAI New and Future AI Educator Award in 2020, and is excited to begin teaching at Harvey Mudd in January 2022.