Just a couple of decades ago, we had relatively few technology product choices; the focus of technology was making things possible. Fast forward to today, and choices are plentiful as well as ubiquitous. But we want products and services that fit our lives. So how do people create experiences that successfully fit the lives of men and women alike?
On Jan. 12, Microsoft hosted its inaugural Hack for Her Summit as a part of our company’s goals to increase awareness of gender-inclusive product development. Hack for Her is a Microsoft-led movement that brings together people of diverse backgrounds, skills and professions to create experiences that work well for women—and spawn new market opportunities as a result. As Klaus Schroeder of design-people said at the summit, “Why develop for and with women? Because it’s a game-changer for business and innovation.” It’s about gender inclusiveness for the benefit of everyone. Applying a female lens to the experiences we deliver is a big opportunity for improvement in many industries and organizations, not just at Microsoft.
“Building products for everyone starts with gender-inclusive design,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of Business Development at Microsoft, and executive sponsor of Hack for Her. “The biggest emerging market today isn’t China or India; it’s women, who have $18 trillion of spending power.” To tap into that market opportunity, Hack for Her is bringing together corporations, universities and other organizations to form a community that demonstrates a new way of thinking about “designing for everyone”—and a new approach to strengthen the value proposition of products from a female perspective.
Toward that end, Microsoft is working with design experts like Klaus Schroeder (CEO and Strategy Director of design-people) and Stephanie Yung (Director of Design at Smart Design and member of Femme Den), as well as research experts like Dr. Margaret Burnett of Oregon State University (creator of GenderMag, a method for finding gender inclusiveness issues in software) and Dr. Londa Schiebinger of Stanford University (director of Gendered Innovations, an international collaboration that analyzes sex and gender for innovation and discovery), to provide education and help companies build better products of all kinds using gendered innovation methods. Our goal is to grow the Hack for Her community by growing awareness of its opportunity and benefits, invite participants to host hands-on hackathons and educational summits, and create the tools to apply the gender lens and measure its success.
To get involved, follow Hack for Her on Twitter @hackforher, and email email@example.com to learn about co-hosting a hackathon or co-sponsoring an educational event, or share your knowledge or experience.