Accepted Paper:

Who will be in charge of agency of driving? Negotiating the future of automobility between gender studies and automotive engineering  


Sandra Buchmüller (Technische Universität Braunschweig)
Corinna Bath (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Paper short abstract:

We provide insights from a feminist STS study on an interdisciplinary collaboration process between gender researchers and automotive engineers that shows the challenges and difficulties of interdisciplinary dialogues that foster a socially fair and inclusive future (auto-)mobility.

Paper long abstract:

The current socio-technical developments of automobility give reason to expect fundamental future changes that promise to solve the current problems of western industrialized countries caused by mass motorization, urbanization and ageing. Self-driving cars are promoted with arguments such as increasing traffic safety, efficiency and comfort as well as a better individual mobility and independence for people with limited cognitive, physical or experiential capabilities. But what automated driving systems will mean in future and how these systems will matter does not only results from engineering efforts. As 'technologies in the making' (Bijker et. al 1987), they also affect power structures, gender relations and agencies, we as gender researchers hopefully want to influence in socially fair and inclusive way.

We want to present a case study on a collaboration between gender researchers and and automotive engineers aiming at the development of a joint research proposal. It deals with the question of how to create concepts for trustworthy automated driving systems that satisfy different user requirements. Referring to concepts of feminist science and technology studies, we analyze how concepts of users, technology, agency, human-machine-configurations (e.g. Suchman 2007) and the research design change during the negotiation process. Moreover, we evaluate how the shifts in the discussion might contribute to a socially fair and inclusive technology. The study exemplarily shows contributions and challenges of including gender studies approaches into the field of automotive engineering.

Panel C05
Science, innovation and inequality: part of the solution or the problem?