Forgotten by design

Let’s imagine a situation where we take 50% of the earth’s population and ignore their financial, health, work, and safety needs, and this ignorance is not accidental but is instead systemic. Now imagine that this is so deep-rooted that when a global research study speaks with members of this 50% disenfranchised group they themselves distrust the ability of the humans in this group to perform tasks as capably as the other 50% of humans.

The following collection of articles shows how deeply-rooted cultural and systemic bias against women can run. The articles show just how broad this bias goes and how deeply it hurts our culture to keep these biased systems and practices in place.

Looking at my own field of design, I find it deeply disturbing how thoroughly we have decided to ignore half the population in so many of the design and policy decisions we make. These pieces collected here show that in 2020 this bias is as strong as ever.

Study finds 90% of people are biased against women
“The number of female heads of government is lower today than five years ago with only 10 women in such positions in 193 countries, down from 15 in 2014.”

No more ‘pink it and shrink it’ as women get boots made for women’s feet at last
“Adidas introduced its first women’s soccer shoe in 1995. Superstar Mia Hamm played an integral role in designing Nike’s answer to this shoe.”

Invisible Women
“Car crash test dummies are also generally male, based on an average man, which of course means they feature different sizes and proportions than a typical female. The tacit assumption is that the 50th-percentile cis male is the average person, skipping over around half of the population entirely. This approach ignores anatomical differences, plus specific individual circumstances like a person being pregnant. These tests impact design and are part of the reason women are far more likely to be injured or die in a car crash. Even in places where “female” dummies are brought in to test cars, these figures are often just scaled-down male dummies with the same basic shape.”

Women in financial services are tackling an underserved market: themselves
“A top management consulting firm has called women its “single largest underserved group of customers”. According to a recent report financial services firms — this in banking, insurance, and wealth/asset management are leaving $700 billion in revenue on the table by using assumptions that are built around men’s careers and not offering solutions that address the realities of women’s lives.”

Baltimore Museum of Art will only acquire works from women next year: ‘You have to do something radical
“We’re attempting to correct our own canon,” Bedford said. “We recognize the blind spots we have had in the past, and we are taking the initiative to do something about them.”

The healthcare system thinks helping women is bad for business
“Women are receiving lower-quality care and ultimately paying more for care than men, with worse outcomes. This is true of all women, but women who are poor and women of color have notably worse experiences with the healthcare system, including higher death rates.”


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Kaushik Panchal

Strategy & Design | Focus on understanding the problem; the answers will present themselves.| @buscada @thoughtspot | Prev @Apple @yahoo |