Only Dummies Would Not Consider Gender in Design | Marketing

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For decades, heart attacks in women have been severely underdiagnosed and undertreated because doctors were unaware that symptoms can manifest differently depending on gender. Invisible women, by Caroline Perez, highlights the extent to which women have been neglected, whether in urban planning, government programs or the design of consumer products and services.

Man like human by default

Perez argues that the gaps in designing for all humans stem from serious gaps in gender data, as men are often assumed to be the default human to design for. The consequences range from mild to fatal. For example, evidence indicates that women are 47% more likely to be seriously injured and 17% more likely to die in car crashes than men, simply because seat belts and air bags are designed and tested. with the average height of a male mannequin. . Ill-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE) is more likely to kill frontline and industrial workers, for example, when anti-stab vests designed for men come up, leaving areas exposed. Less serious consequences include smartphones that are too big to be held on their own by many women, tall shelves that are difficult to access, and power tools of proportions that are difficult to handle.


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As women make up half of the world’s population and account for 70-85% of consumer purchases globally, it is no longer profitable for brands to design products and services that meet needs. male. Designing for women is not designing for “others” or “extreme cases”, it is simply designing for all humans.

Additionally, extending the default user prototype benefits a larger consumer base, including men with smaller hands, smaller than average white men, and non-binary people, for n ‘. to name a few. Designing for multiple human body types and modes of use is not only about making the products pink or reducing the size of the products, but also considering physiological differences such as limb ratios, shoulder width, width, hip size and hormonal differences. A critical example is in the field of medicine, where dosages of drugs designed for men put women at a disproportionate risk of overdose, with consequences ranging from brain hemorrhages to liver failure to death.

Reinventing the inclusive conception of gender

Brands, designers and the insight industry can play a vital role in bridging this gap for everyday products and services. Some steps might include:

  • Representation at higher levels: Women in decision-making positions are essential to enable inclusive design. In a famous anecdote, Google ignored the needs of pregnant employees until Sheryl Sandberg’s pregnancy made it difficult to cross the large parking lot. Sandberg’s ability to approach Sergey Brin immediately led to reserved parking spaces for pregnant employees in front of office buildings.
  • Various researchers and designers: The dominance of white males in the design and tech industry leads to unintentional loopholes, when designers fail to consider lived realities other than their own. A major setback was the launch of Apple’s Health Monitoring System in 2014, which was marketed as a comprehensive health tracker, but did not include a period tracker feature.
  • Hear from users: Researchers and designers can spend time with various users to understand their motivations and underlying choices. A glaring failure in the development sector was the low uptake of clean (smokeless) stoves, which was believed to be due to the fact that women could not see the benefits of stoves. It took a 2015 study that looked at women to find that clean stoves required more firewood, which took more time and energy for women to collect and divide. The designers then created an inexpensive airflow mechanism that could be attached to smaller existing stoves and saw high adoption.

It should be noted that changing the default male assumption is not just about designing for different body types, but also understanding gender patterns of behavior. For example, snow removal schedules assumed that commuting hours between men and offices by car was the default, neglecting women’s trips on foot and by bicycle, which started earlier in the day for shopping or shopping. bring children to school. Correcting this oversight in Sweden saved millions of dollars in public health care, with fewer accidents on icy pedestrian paths.

Future trends

The lack of data diversity is of particular concern in the tech space, where machine learning algorithms learn from existing data sets. Ramifications include cars not recognizing female voices or the different accents for hands-free devices, with potential implications for autonomous vehicles.

There is also a long way to go to design for transgender and non-binary people, especially in technology interfaces and healthcare. A simple example is to not use credit card names to refer to individuals (credit cards often use dead names), but to update brand records with the correct consumer names.

Some brands have gone beyond conceptualizing men as the human by default. The fitness industry has done well, using performance data disaggregated by gender to provide different shoe structures for lighter and heavier bodies, and hiking backpacks with different sizes for the hip belt, the torso length and harnesses. The other brands must follow suit quickly. Women consumers represent a bigger growth opportunity than the combined growth of India and China.


Sanaya Sinha is a manager at Quantum Consumer Solutions.


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