Hand-based human-machine interfaces are complex tasks that involve repetitive or sustained movements and postures of the hands that can lead to overuse syndromes of the musculoskeletal system. Consequently, it is important to minimize the physical effort that occurs at these interfaces. The evaluation of physical effort can be performed either by subjective evaluation of the relative perceived effort (e.g., Borg scale) or by objective physiological measurements (e.g., electromyography - EMG). However, the relation between these two measures has not been sufficiently studied for localized low-effort activities. This study investigated the relation between EMG and Borg ratings, as well as the issue of gender differences during low-effort activity of forearm muscles. Nine females and nine males performed eight different hand gestures (localized low-effort activity), during which EMG signals were recorded from six forearm muscles and Borg ratings were obtained. On average, the female subjects rated the gestures as less effortful than the male subjects, and also demonstrated a higher positive correlation between the EMG and Borg ratings. Furthermore, the linear model that was fitted for predicting the Borg ratings based on gender and the combined activity of muscles provided an R-squared value of approximately 0.3.