“I try to stay neutral”: Digital Assistants and their Stance towards Gender


Session Title:

  • Politics of Sentience: Activism and Labor

Presentation Title:

  • “I try to stay neutral”: Digital Assistants and their Stance towards Gender



  • This paper seeks to understand current trends of development of digital assistants and their stance towards gender, exploring the questions that emerge when the relationship between gender and AI is subject to inspection. It begins by addressing AI and its integration in our daily life, namely through the form of digital assistants. It then examines trends of development of current digital assistants such as Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant and Siri, considering the features and functions that are being prioritized in AI evolution.

    This approach is complemented by an analysis that reveals how these assistants tend to be feminized through their anthropomorphization, the tasks they perform and their behavioural traits. Furthering this discussion, we focus on the main questions, justifications and concerns raised by researchers and academics when examining the feminization of AI, while also taking into account common discussions around this phenomenon in the context of online media coverage. In this manner, this study seeks to promote discussion and incite reflection on how current developments of this technology reveal a stance towards gender, questioning whether AI tends to reinforce traditional and normative conceptions of gender and femininity.