Accidental Exclusion

I often listen to the Accidental Tech Podcast while washing dishes, and this week they had a discussion sparked in part by a tweet by John Siracusa about what they can do to get more women to listen to the show. One of the responses to John’s tweet discussed on the show is that the sponsor reads sometimes feel like they cater exclusively to men, and John and Marco discussed the merits of dropping sponsors that cater only to men vs. trying to modify the ad read in a way that it’s inclusive, even if the sponsor sells a male-focused product.

The discussion was mostly about Harry’s, a shaving company, and the most obviously male-oriented recurring sponsor of the show, and in the discussion Marco stated that he felt the script was pretty neutral, with the exact words “I don’t think the script is really the problem.” Because Marco seems like a considerate man who genuinely wants to include everyone I’m pointing out how last week’s seemingly-innocent sponsor read for Harry’s excludes women.

Numerous comparisons, in quality, price, and comfort, to the Fusion line of razors, suggesting the style is Mad Men-inspired, and, and the statement that Harry’s “was started by two guys who wanted a better product” leave no doubt that these are razors being made for men, not women. Saying that the blades provide “a better shave that respects your face” leaves little doubt that Marco is speaking to the men in the audience, not the women.

The short phrase “respects your face” excludes women. If it read “a better shave that respects your skin” or “a better shave that respects the face” then women would not be excluded. John suggests going even further and trying to include women, but the point of this post is to show how easy it is to exclude a group without even realizing it.