*Pınar Kaygan, Middle East Technical University, Turkey
Leah Armstrong, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria
Katarina Serulus, KU Leuven, Belgium
Kaisu Savola, Aalto University, Finland
*contact: pkaygan@metu.edu.tr

Social constructionist feminist research of the last decades has shown that if we look closely enough we can see that artifacts are gendered by design. Some artifacts are gendered explicitly through their direct association with the traditional binary of women or men users; while gender is inscribed into others in more subtle ways through the normative conceptions regarding (1) their use contexts (public/private), (2) gender symbols and myths (strong/weak, rational/emotional, dirty/clean, adventurous/safe etc.) and (3) relationship with technology. This dualistic view serves as a useful strategy in design and marketing to create new segments to expand the market. Yet artifacts shaped by this view embody, represent and reproduce asymmetries in gender power relations.
These asymmetries also find form in the professional work cultures and power dynamics of design practice. Gender dynamics are both seen and unseen; played out in the everyday interactions of the design office or studio and in the public performance of the designer’s role for client or public audiences. As such, implicitly and explicitly, gender roles have the capacity to enable or inhibit the role of designer as an agent for social change.
This track seeks to open up a new avenue for feminist scholarship and trans/gender research in design innovation by exploring the relationship between design and gender and its implications for design as both practice and profession. We invite papers addressing the questions including but not exclusive to:
• What is the relationship between gender and design practice and how is this changing in contemporary design culture?
• How and to what extent can designers act as agents of change by formulating gender inequalities in terms of design problems?
• Are there any design methodologies and tools that encourage inclusive and gender-sensitive design practices?
• How can contemporary post-colonial theory and trans/gender research generate new approaches?
• What insights can gender and design histories bring to contemporary research?
• How can design educators better contribute to creating an awareness in young designers to design for a more egalitarian world for people with various gender identities?

Indicative References

Armstrong, Leah (2012) ‘Portraits: Women Designers’, A digital resource, University of Brighton Design Archives. http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/collections/design-archives/resources/women-designers

Kaygan, Harun, Pınar Kaygan, and Özümcan Demir (2017) A pen that ‘looks like a CEO in a business suit’: Gendering the fountain pen. Journal of Gender Studies. doi: 10.1080/09589236.2017.1409105

Kaygan, Pınar (2016) Gender, technology, and the designer’s work: A feminist review. Design and Culture, 8(2): 235-252. DOI: 10.1080/17547075.2016.1172862

Rossi, Catharine (2009) ‘Furniture, feminism and the feminine: Women designers in post-war Italy, 1945-1970’. Journal of Design History, 22(3): 243–257. doi:10.1093/jdh/epp022

Schultz, Tristan, Danah Abdulla, Ahmed Ansari, Ece Canlı, Mahmoud Keshavarz, Matthew Kiem, Luiza Prado de O. Martins and Pedro J.S. Vieira de Oliveira (eds.) (2018) Special Issue: Decolonising Design. Design and Culture, 10(1): 1-6. doi:10.1080/17547075.2018.1434367

van der Velden, Maja and Christina Mörtberg (2012) Between Need and Desire: Exploring Strategies for Gendering Design. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 37(6): 663-683. doi: 10.1177/0162243911401632