Airbags. Voice recognition software. Public transportation. Cell phones. Designed objects and new technologies make modern life possible. But they also often have secret stories that reveal how variables like gender and race have quietly but powerfully shaped both their design and use. This session explores how seemingly “neutral” designs and technologies are frequently gendered and racialized, reflecting and reinforcing systems of social inequality. We’ll also consider why it is so crucial for new designers and engineers—like Lafayette students!—to learn about the “secret life of things.” Presented by Mary A. Armstrong is Charles A. Dana Professor of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies and English and chair of the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program.

which took place on September 15, 2020.