I Touch Myself Project highlights gender bias in tech for International Women’s Day

9 March 2020

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Created by Wunderman Thompson, the work features the famous voice of Karen Jacobsen.

Today, 85% of women seek health advice online. Yet ‘how do I check my breasts?’ is just one of the life-saving questions that one of the most recognisable voice assistants currently can’t answer.

Though when it comes to the male body, it can tell you how to check your testicles for signs of cancer and even respond to slang terms for the male anatomy.

The gender bias ingrained in technology platforms inspired the I Touch Myself Project to take action.

For International Women’s Day, the project launched a powerful campaign with Wunderman Thompson and the help of one of the world’s most recognisable female voices – Karen Jacobsen, whose voice can be heard on over a billion devices.

The campaign video, created in partnership with Wunderman Thompson and Collider, begins with Jacobsen’s ubiquitous voice encouraging women to ‘touch themselves’, then explains in detail the step-by-step process.

For the awareness message to be shared widely, the team behind the campaign skirted around nudity censorship guidelines on social media by creating a digital body for the voice assistant.

Jacobsen says that she was moved to be part of a campaign that could save women’s lives.

“I jumped at the chance to advocate for women to no longer be penalised by gender bias in tech devices," Jacobsen says.

"With  one in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer, hopefully women will receive the lifesaving information they need.”

Sinead Roarty, creative director says: “The I Touch Myself Project’s mission is to encourage young women to touch themselves regularly to find early signs of cancer. But with draconian nipple regulations on social media and inconsistent responses by voice assistants, the implication that the female body is inherently pornographic has created a barrier to delivering basic health messages. It’s sexist and dangerous.”

Angela Morris, national chief strategy officer, Wunderman Thompson says: “As our reliance on voice tech increases, so does the responsibility of the companies behind them to design them without gender bias. This campaign shines a light on that. For real, sustainable change we need to see a commitment to eliminate all forms of bias when developing products.”

Andrew van der Westhuyzen at Collider says the collaboration process with the UTS Protospace team on the voice assistant visuals.

“We collaborated with the incredible team at UTS ProtoSpace to laser scan the human form and integrated these 3D scans into a digital world that people might imagine for a voice assistant. We then experimented with various light and sound responsive visual effects whilst ensuring legibility of the breast check poses. We are always proud to be part of the I Touch Myself Project campaigns and champion such an important cause.”

The campaign lives across social and digital platforms, as well as a microsite featuring breast health information.

Wunderman Thompson has also built a Breast Check Skill for Alexa, that once approved, will enable Amazon devices to respond to the question “How do I check my breasts?” and other words women use to talk about their breasts, helping to close the information gap even further.

Credits
Featuring: Karen Jacobsen
I Touch Myself Project Ambassador: Rahni Sadler
I Touch Myself Project Directors: Charley Drayton, Marcia Mason, Bernard Drayton
Collider Director: Andrew van der Westhuyzen
Technical Director: Hugh Carrick-Allan
3D scans courtesy of UTS ProtoSpace
DoP: Jonathon Pilkington
Managing Director: Rachael Ford-Davies
Producer: Lucy Pilkington
Head of Studio, Production: Naomi Iland
EP, Digital: Annabel Stevens
HMU: Shaina Ehrlich
Lighting & Camera Assistant: Jon Brown
Smashbox Studios New York
Avatar Model: Danielle Jackson

Music composition: Pat Thrall
Song Zu Sound Designer: Abby Sie
Producer: Olivia Ray

Original Music Track Songwriters:
Christina Amphlett, Tom Kelly, Billy Steinberg, Mark McEntee

PR: Hill + Knowlton Strategies

Wunderman Thompson Australia
National Chief Creative Officer: Simon Langley
Creative Director Sydney: Sinead Roarty
National Chief Strategy Officer: Angela Morris
Art Director: Amee Wilson
Copywriter: James Southey
Partner: Ana Lynch
Engagement Manager: Bronte Rohrig
Senior Producer: Gabe Hammond
Editor: Kel Gronow
Junior Producer: Chloe Marshall
Creative Director, Content: Brie Stewart
Senior Front End Developer: Sam Cole
Senior Front End Developer: Joe Campbell
Junior Front End Developer: Ari Friedgut
Creative Designer: Evelyn Tran
Senior UX Designer: Lachlan Sunderland
Delivery Lead: Emmanuelle Revelut
Head of Production: Jackie Archer
Editor: Dave Wade
Senior Designer: Daniella Coles
Associate Producer: Heidi Fidel

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