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Mind the Gap is a design game that elaborates on the challenges of the gender gap in ICT and STEM. It is a participatory, co-created artefact and experience, that can be played in class, at events and conferences, and is a great way to introduce the challenges of gender gap in science and technology, as well as openning discussion and debate on gender and identities. The game was created as part of a PhD research process in the development of Agonistic Design, by Max Willis, University of Trento, Italy (SKIL TIME) and Prof. Antonella de Angeli, Free University of Bolzano, Italy.

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This game is free to play, and a free download is available. However, we ask that you first email us, and tell us more about your event. There are a few simple guidelies that we ask facilitators to follow, such as, the game must always be 'opt-in', that is, noone should be obligated to play the game or feel any social or institutional pressure to participate. If these guidelines can be followed, your participation can be incoorporated into the game download for the next gameplay sessions, and you can contribute to this global research on Gender Gap.

For inquiries or comment, please contact [Max dot Willis at unitn dot it]

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Background

Mind the Gap is a game that examines the gender gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and careers, that is the disparity between women and men in terms of employment, training opportunities, job security, pay and advancement potential. The design is grounded on a literature review that first examined statistics and reports concerning female participation in technology fields (Catherine Ashcraft & Eger, 2016; Johanna Weststar, 2015; Schlegel, 2015, 2016), investigations specific to ICT, Information & Communication Technology (Association for Computing Machinery, 2017; Clayton, Hellens, & Nielsen, 2009; Mason, Cooper, & Comber, 2011) as well as documentations of women’s experiences in tech careers (Consalvo, 2012; Le Feuvre, 2016; Simard, 2008). In addition, we analysed first and second hand data from the GARCIA project funded by the 7th European Union Framework Program (Le Feuvre, 2016). This review highlighted the diverse challenges facing women in technology fields and spurred the development of Mind the Gap, an agonistic design game that examines perceptions of gender inequality.

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The Game

The game board resembles an urban train map, with a primary Career Line and a secondary Family Line. Players are randomly allocated a Woman, Man or non-binary Rainbow player character (PC) and given a gendered play-piece (Fig. 2). Gameplay begins at “Gender Central” with players taking turns to roll dice and advance on the Career Line. As players advance, they draw from a deck of privilege cards, read the card aloud, and act on the privilege or detriment suggested, moving their play piece forward or backwards. The design incorporates procedural rhetoric (Bogost, 2007) that embeds disadvantages for non-male PC’s within the game. Man PC’s play with a six-sided die while Woman and Rainbow PC’s used a four-sided die to reinforce the concept of gender gap.

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Throughout the gameplay, players are offered blank cards, each with spaces for a short text, gender privilege score, and ‘Gender’, ‘Age’ and ‘Location’ information of the card author, and invited to contribute new cards to the game. In this way, the game and its evolution maps out the development of players' perceptions from a collective standpoint, and we are able to trace the emergence of Agonistic practices in both gameplay behaviour and the collective narrative of the cards.

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The cards that drive the game are almost entirely participant authored. The cards can include gender privilege scenarios, decision-making situations, or rule changes. From the original seven seed cards with which we began the game in March 2017, Mind the Gap has grown into a collection of more than 230 cards. These cards contain micro-narratives that are often humorous, sometimes deeply personal, on occasion surprising, and overall quite revealing and share the breadth of gender related challenges that face people in their lives and work. By examining the privilege scoring of the cards, and the context of the scenario, decision or rule changes, the game provides a fascinating insight into collective perceptions of players towards gender issues, as well as potential solutions to the problems we face, in a unique, playful and socially engaging manner.

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Development

Mind the Gap is a research tool, game created as a case study to test agonistic design principles, and expands on our concept of experience probes (Willis et al. 2017) wherein aspects of the user experience serve as momentary data-collection mechanisms. Again, this game is free to play, and a free download is available.
Please contact us for further details [Max dot Willis at unitn dot it]

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Association for Computing Machinery, C. o. W. i. C. (2017). ACM-W: Supporting, celebrating and advocating for Women in Computing. In A.-W. C. J. Tims (Ed.), (Vol. 2017): ACM-W.

Bogost, I. (2007). Persuasive games: The expressive power of videogames: Mit Press. Catherine Ashcraft, B. M., & Eger, a. E. (2016). Women in Tech: The Facts. 2016 Update, See what's changed and what hasn't. In: National Center for Women & Technology (NCWIT).

Clayton, K. L., Hellens, L. A. v., & Nielsen, S. H. (2009). Gender stereotypes prevail in ICT: a research review. In Proceedings of the special interest group on management information system's 47th annual conference on Computer personnel research (pp. 153-158). Limerick, Ireland: ACM.

Consalvo, M. (2012). Confronting toxic gamer culture: A challenge for feminist game studies scholars. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology.

Johanna Weststar, M.-J. L. (2015). Developer Satisfaction Survey 2015 - Summary Report. In: International Game Developers Association | igda.org.

Le Feuvre, N. (2016). Contextualizing Women’s Academic Careers: Comparative Perspectives on Gender, Care and Employment Regimes in Seven European Countries. Italy: Garcia Project.

Mason, R., Cooper, G., & Comber, T. (2011). Girls get it. ACM Inroads, 2, 71-77.

Muller, M. J., & Kuhn, S. (1993). Participatory design. Communications of the ACM, 36, 24-28.

Prahalad, C. K., & Ramaswamy, V. (2004). Co-creation experiences: The next practice in value creation. Journal of interactive marketing, 18, 5-14.

Sanders, E. B.-N., & Stappers, P. J. (2008). Co-creation and the new landscapes of design. Co-design, 4, 5-18.

Schlegel, F. (2015, 2016). UNESCO SCIENCE REPORT, Towards 2030. In D. E. Susan Schneegans (Ed.). Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Simard, C. (2008). Climbing the technical ladder: Obstacles and solutions for mid-level women in technology: Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Stanford University, Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.

Spinuzzi, C. (2005). The methodology of participatory design. Technical communication, 52, 163-174.

Willis, M., De Angeli, A., Zancanaro, M. (2017). Experience Probes: Immersion and Reflection, Between Reality and Virtuality. In INTERACT2017 (pp. 10). Mumbai, India.