Feminine Gamification Viewpoint: Heidi and Howard

Feminine Gamification Viewpoint: Heidi and Howard

Today while I was looking for some inspiration for this blog post I was browsing through a list of female role models in tech entrepreneurship and the question what does success look like kept popping up in my mind. My next follow-on questions then was, would there be a difference between women and men especially in a workplace setting. Both these questions set me off to research the topic a bit more.

Here is an interesting find on the theme, which was written in Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In”:

“In 2003, Columbia Business School professor Frank Flynn and New York University professor Cameron Anderson ran an experiment. They started with a Harvard Business School case study about a real-life entrepreneur named Heidi Roizen. It described how Roizen became a successful venture capitalist by using her “outgoing personality … and vast personal and professional network … [which] included many of the most powerful business leaders in the technology sector.” Half the students in the experiment were assigned to read Heidi’s story. The other half got the same story with just one difference—the name was changed from Heidi to Howard.

When students were polled, they rated Heidi and Howard as equally competent. But Howard came across as a more appealing colleague. Heidi was seen as selfish and not “the type of person you would want to hire or work for.” This experiment supports what research has already clearly shown: success and likability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less.

When designing workplace gamification, we typically design for individual success and user journeys, however as soon as we introduce a social aspect and competition we may actually be setting ladies up for a tumble in like-ability and trustworthiness. In my experience the perception may be changing throughout younger generations. It is something to monitor however. If ladies are opting out of social facing gamification or competition, it may indeed be worthwhile to re-confgure the win-conditions towards individual private efforts or team goals.

How would you influence the Heidi & Howard syndrome in gamification efforts?

Leave a comment

Our Solutions