Gender Equality in Design — A Hit Topic That Should be Continuously Considered

Ines Yin
4 min readFeb 13, 2021

The discussion on gender equality has been going on. In recent years, more and more people of different fields, including film and television, works, design, and related academic research, have attached importance to gender equality, and Put it at the heart of their consideration. This is a good phenomenon — at least people are concerned about inequality and trying to create opportunities for equal dialogue.

Today, I would like to talk about my views on this topic through a movie, I Am Not an Easy Man [1], an episode of the variety show Who’s the MurdererMystery Tribe [2], and a Book — INVISIBLE WOMEN: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men [3]. I would also talk about how we can pay attention to gender equality in design.

The movie I Am Not an Easy Man tells the story of a male chauvinist who comes to a world dominated by women and has to change his behavior habits and accept social assimilation. In the world this film has built, women become the masters of society, while men become those that are materialized and consumed, which is completely opposite to the patriarchal society. Through the humorous plots, the film conveys the profound truth that we should respect and treat people of different genders equally. Similarly, in Season 6 Episode 6 of the variety show Who’s the Murderer called Mystery Tribe, all players of the game enter the story based on the ancient matriarchal society, where women are the masters. Although the story of the game is not entirely about gender equality, it still reveals that the women-dominated society, just like the men-dominated society, will harm other gender groups in society in terms of interests, safety, or things like those, and even affect social harmony and stability.

Indeed, what we need to explore is not how we could give more rights to a certain gender group, but how we could realize gender equality by clarifying the differences between different genders and respect these differences. As Caroline Criado-Perez mentioned in her book INVISIBLE WOMEN, many products, such as mobile phones, cars, clothing, and so on, are designed are mainly based on men’s average data — almost all products are produced without considering women’s needs. She mentioned that if the data gap is not filled, women will always be in a male-biased world and will be hurt to varying degrees. Although the language style of her books is not as rigorous and authentic as that of academic papers, the phenomenon she mentioned is indeed worthy of our designers’ consideration. Similarly, Costanza-chock also mentioned in her article Design Justice, AI, and Escape from the Matrix of Domination [4] that the trend of AI development will “erase” people on the edge of society (for example, black women, transgender people, etc.). Her article reminds us that in pursuit of gender equality, we should not only strive to make women and men equal, but also pay attention to a wider range of groups, understand the differences among them, and pay attention to these differences in design.

So what can we do to reveal gender equality in design? First of all, as Criado-Perez said, we need to integrate data of different genders (especially those who are not men) into every stage of design, including research, prototyping, and testing, to supplement the data gap, and to consider the special needs of different groups separately. Secondly, in the stage of creativity and decision-making, we need to ensure that people from different groups participate in and give them enough voice so that we can get more than just the voice of men and design more humanized products or experiences. Finally, I think the most effective and important thing is to start to change the habit of speaking or thinking in our daily lives. For instance, change the greeting phrase “Hey, guys” to “Hi folks” or other more neutral phrases; when seeing some product packaging in the markets, try to think critically about whether their design is biased.

It is true that it would be hard to ask others to do something, but if we can start to make changes from ourselves or the design teams we are in, the society we live in may gradually turn to a better direction in the future.

References:

[1] I Am Not an Easy Man (2018) Directed by Eleonore Pourriat [Feature film]. Worldwide: Netflix.

[2] MGTV Who’s the murderer Channel (2021) Who’s the murderer S6 EP6:Mystery Tribe. 29 January. Available at: https://youtu.be/7WHGj9W2QLI (Accessed: 13 February).

[3] Criado-Perez, C. (2019). Invisible women: data bias in a world designed for men. Chatto & Windus: London.

[4] Costanza-Chock, S. (2018). Design justice, AI, and escape from the matrix of domination. Journal of Design and Science, 16 July. doi: 10.21428/96c8d426.

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Ines Yin

MA User Experience Design; Bachelor of Communication in Media, Arts and Design