News & events


Gendered Artificial Intelligence: Exploring the Gendered Implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

30 July 2019
10:01 - 10:01


Date: 12 September 2019

12h30  – 14:00

Venues in Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town (Videoconferencing facilities: see below)

Dr Rachel Adams Social Policy, Knowledge Mobilisation, and Impact Assessment (SoKIA) research programme, Human Sciences Research Council

Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller, Executive Director, Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD) research programme, Human Sciences Research Council

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is, ostensibly, upon us. With it, advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), are rapidly becoming a feature of our everyday lives. One of the most ubiquitous AI technologies are the digital voice assistants embedded within the operating system of smart phones. Yet, these AI assistants – Siri (Apple) and Bixby (Samsung), together with Cortana (Microsoft) and Alexa (Amazon) – appear to have a gender problem, drawing on stereotyped representations of women in their design and function. In doing so, AI assistants make critical value statements about the worth of the kind of assistant work they perform, and the people that historically undertake such work. Accordingly, this presentation examines the gendering at play in digital assistants, from the use of female names and voices, to the stereotyped female characterisations constructed through the programmed responses to suggestive questions and commands. This critique is set within a history of gendered technology and the diversity challenges evident within the AI sector today, in order to foreground a larger question around digital technologies, inclusion, diversity and discrimination.

This seminar is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of the DST.

Please advise the administrator below if you are intending to link via Vidyo

Kindly RSVP by 11 September 2019

Pretoria: HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail:

Cape Town:
HSRC, Merchant House 116-118 Buitengracht Street Cape Town, Cape Town. Contact: Shouneez Khan, Tel (021) 4667948, or Shouneez Khan <>

The Atrium, 5th Floor, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, Berea, 4001 , Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or, or Wiseman Mbambo e-mail: