Technical research and development are embedded in social contexts, afforded by stakeholders, their goals and interests, values and assumptions, and the social and professional structures they are part of. The choice of research topics and many development decisions start from rather general, standard assumptions about the people and situations, technical research and development are intended for.
The “ Gender Extended Research and Development” (GERD) model is meant to broaden perspectives: to stimulate and facilitate an explicit reflection and consideration of social diversity in research and development of technical systems, products, and services.
As gender is a key factor and correlates with many aspects of diversity, the GERD model has been based on Gender Studies research. It links Informatics with Gender Studies thinking. The model names seven key phases in research and development that are traversed clockwise and at times repeatedly. Each phase is characterized by some typical activities with examples.
The whole process guided by eight “reflection aspects” that have been derived from basic concepts of Gender/Diversity Studies. Each aspect can be related to every research and development phase. For every such combination, questions have been formulated that help to include Gender/Diversity considerations. Due to the differing characteristics of the phases, the number of questions varies.
The GERD model is designed for use in the tech industry and related research fields. It provides knowledge and guidelines for teams across the proposed phases of research and development. While most of the examples used in the GERD model are European-centric and research focused, we envision the use of the model across all sectors globally, as a baseline for broadening perspectives and placing social diversity as key to research and development. We underscore the adoption of the model in relation to the social environment of the adoptive team.
To understand in general what the GERD model might offer you, click on the reflection aspects and discover what they mean. Or choose a phase and one of its activities to find an example that explains how some selected reflection question(s) have been applied in a research and development project.
If you seek inspiration in a particular project phase, click on the respective phase and explore the various reflection aspects. The phase-related questions offered for each aspect are meant to enrich your project discussions with Gender/Diversity considerations.
The first version of the GERD model was developed as part of the research project InformAttraktiv at the University of Bremen, Germany, from 2010 to 2013, by Susanne Maaß, Claude Draude and Kamila Wajda.
The aim of InformAttraktiv was to interrogate common conceptions of Informatics that are often one-sided and showcase the richness and diversity of the field to make it more appealing to young people. The project explored the sociotechnical character of Informatics, highlighting the embeddedness of technological research and development within the social world. During the project, three sub-fields of Informatics were analysed: Digital Media and Interaction; Cognition, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics; Safety, Security and Quality. InformAttraktiv brought together expertise from Gender Studies and Informatics to find connecting points for social diversity.
During this interdisciplinary collaboration, Informatics researchers came up with the request to have a more hands-on, usable means to integrate gender expertise in technology research and development cycles. This was how we came to think of developing the GERD model.
At the time of InformAttraktiv, there were, in particular in the German-speaking contexts, not many examples of such an integration. In the last decade, however, especially internationally, significant work has been done to address questions of gender, transgender, race, ethnicity, disability etc. in Computing.
We started translating the GERD model from German to English in 2019 and have tried to not just translate but update the model content. For this, Nana Kesewaa Dankwa joined the team (Kamila Wajda is no longer working on the model). The German, academic background of the original GERD model, however, is still very much noticeable and should be kept in mind while working with the model.