Models with Men and Women: Representing Gender in Dynamic Modeling of Social Systems
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Dynamic engineering models have yet to be evaluated in the context of feminist engineering ethics. Decision-making concerning gender in dynamic modeling design is a gender and ethical issue that is important to address regardless of the system in which the dynamic modeling is applied. There are many dynamic modeling tools that operationally include the female population, however, there is an important distinction between females and women; it is the difference between biological sex and the social construct of gender, which is fluid and changes over time and geography. The ethical oversight in failing to represent or misrepresenting gender in model design when it is relevant to the model purpose can have implications for model validity and policy model development. This paper highlights this gender issue in the context of feminist engineering ethics using a dynamic population model. Women are often represented in this type of model only in their biological capacity, while lacking their gender identity. This illustrative example also highlights how language, including the naming of variables and communication with decision-makers, plays a role in this gender issue.