Special Issue: "Gender and Human-Machine Communication"


Leopoldina Fortunati (leopoldina.fortunati@uniud.it),Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Physics, University of Udine, Udine, Italy

Autumn Edwards (autumn.edwards@wmich.edu), School of Communication, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States of America

Description: The reproductive sphere, historically the place of domestic appliances and classic media (television and radio), is now populated by various types of machines: from computers to mobile phones to social robots to virtual and voice-based assistants. Domestic work, especially in its immaterial aspects (affection, emotion, sex, information, care and support, communication, education, entertainment), is increasingly machinized, while its material aspects remain far from being robustly supported by technologies. What is the social and political meaning of this massive penetration of hard technology in the immaterial reproduction sphere and of the relatively limited penetration in the material reproduction sphere? How do the role of women, the gendered division and organization of household labor, the weight of the reproductive sphere in respect to capital systems, and the destiny of individuals change? We argue, for example, that the process of separation of individuals from each other has reached its apex with the diffusion of HMC, since, here, each individual is separated from human others and talks instead to machines that respond to them. What are the implications of this process?

The scholarship on gender and HMC so far has focused not only on gender-linked attitudes and behaviors towards robots, chatbots, and virtual assistants but also on how machines are gendered. Both of these approaches are interesting and deserve further development to understand their implications for women’s empowerment in society and gender equity more broadly. Therefore, we also welcome scholarship on HMC that centers:

  • gendered stereotyping and interaction processes,
  • the representation of human gender identity groups (Who do our communicative machines represent, and how? For whom are they designed? Who do they benefit and burden? Who is included or excluded in their industry development processes?),
  • gender-linked bias in computational and algorithmic systems, and
  • the social construction of gender and implications for human gender relations.

Contributions are invited for a special issue in Volume 4 of Human-Machine Communication devoted to capture and discuss these recent developments in gender and HMC at theoretical, methodological, and empirical levels.

For more information or questions, please contact Dr. Leopoldina Fortunati () or Dr. Autumn Edwards ().

Keywords: Human-Machine Communication, Gender, Sex, Domestic and Reproductive Labor, Algorithmic and Design Bias, Gender Equity and Equality, Machine Representation and Portrayal, Gender and Robots/AI

Deadline: Submissions are due January 15, 2022, and the publication will be in June 2022. All manuscripts should be submitted via the journal's online submission system (https://hmcjournal.com) with the remark, "Special Issue" in the cover letter. In the online submission system, there will be a drop-down menu under Document Type. Please choose "Special Issue Submission." For formatting and length specifications, please see the journal's Instructions for Authors.