Image: On the Rag
Image: On the Rag

SocietyJanuary 24, 2021

On the Rag: How sexism in design impacts our everyday lives

Image: On the Rag
Image: On the Rag

Summer reissue: Join Michèle A’Court, Alex Casey and Leonie Hayden as On the Rag looks at how the world around us has been built by men, for men. 

First published December 7, 2020.

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It can be hard to feel welcome in a world where the phones are slightly too big, your pockets are welded shut and the floors below you are so shiny that everyone can see what you had for breakfast. For women, these everyday inconveniences have long been dismissed as just that – each one another small hurdle that reminds us that we aren’t the “standard” person. 

But what if there’s more to it than that? These little annoyances are part of a much bigger problem, namely that most of the world and the structures in it have been designed and created by men with nobody else in mind at all. At times, these design decisions can turn deadly, impacting everything from crash test dummies to ill-fitting PPE in the middle of a pandemic.

History has also shown us that even when women do design something new, it doesn’t take long for men to hijack it and take all the credit. Beer, computer programming, life rafts and even early wi-fi technology were all designed by women. Even Monopoly began as an anti-landlord board game created by a woman, before a man nicked the idea and sold it to Parker Brothers. 

With all of this in mind, we take a look at several different areas of design and discuss how they disadvantage against anyone who isn’t a cis man. Whether it is the trend of women AI servants, or the fact that the women’s line for the bathroom can be seen from space, one thing is clear. There’s a lot more work to do to make “standard” designs work for all of us. 

On the Rag is made with the support of NZ On Air. Watch more episodes here.

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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