Master Thesis 
Gender as an influencing factor in design • Design for critical self-reflection by designers
Designers form normality. Through the products, surfaces and services they design, they are significantly involved in what users assume to be normal. Part of this normality are also traditional gender role models. Within this work the connection between design and gender is examined and thus the responsibility of designers regarding the reproduction of gender role models is emphasized.
Users were asked to design a filter coffee machine. This should be perfectly adapted to their own needs and wishes. The products were designed in several small co-creation workshops. Each user was asked to describe and sketch his/her own filter coffee machine.
In order to achieve a higher degree of comparability and to be able to better grasp differences or similarities at a glance, the sketches were translated into 2D renderings. The assigned materials and details were taken into account and all results were brought to a visual level.
Since design influences the idea of normality (Bieling ,2020), there is always the possibility, that it reinforces gender role models through design. There is a danger that design stigmatises by disregarding a possible user group or by looking at only one particular target group. It may also be possible that a design which, for example, primarily wants to relieve women of a burden women from a burden in the first instance, in turn promotes gender inequality in the second instance. Designers also function as individuals in society, who possibly let their own values, shaped by their role image, flow into their design.  This reproduction of role models can happen consciously or unconsciously.
In a test series, it was to be compared whether the participating designers were influenced by the gender factor. The following test set-up was created for this purpose:
Each designer had to design a filter coffee machine for a given persona. The result was recorded on concept sheets and the process was documented. In each case, the same number of designers received one of the three different personas. These personas did not differ in their content but only in the fact that one group received a target group description without a picture, one group received a picture of a woman and one group received a picture of a man. All information, as well as the name of the person, was kept gender-neutral. For better comparison the designers results were translated into 2D renderings as well. 
The most important findings of the research summarised:
- There is definitely interest in gender-specific products.
But more clearly on the part of men.
- Stereotypical role models shape the normal idea of design for the 
genders.
- One's own desires and ideas are shaped by stereotypical normative concepts, but they are not as drastic as in the described stereotypes.
- Designers allow themselves to be influenced by the depicted gender.
- If there are no indicators, designers can be influenced by their own gender.
DESIGN OF WHOM - DESIGN FOR WHOM is a campaign that encourages designers to reflect on their own biases in various parts of the design process. It gives positive advice but also negative examples and thus confronts them with their social responsibility as designers.
For more information about my thesis feel free to contact me at hello@hannahloerzel.com
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