99% Invisible Podcast: Gender Bias in Design Ignores 50% of the World’s Population

July 24, 2019 Erin Hanson

If you’re a fan of the popular 99% Invisible podcast and the kinds of stories published on Redshift, then you’re in the right place. Autodesk and Redshift partnered with 99% Invisible host Roman Mars and his crew for six podcasts tied to the show’s mission of uncovering the fascinating—yet inconspicuous—ways that architecture and design shape the planet.

The third episode in this partnership series takes a look at how gender bias affects the design of everything from products to infrastructure. Consider the crash test dummy: It’s designed to mimic the average, 50th-percentile male. Never mind that, in the United States at least, women drivers outnumber men. Why, then, are “female” crash test dummies just miniaturized male dummies, without considerations for anatomical differences or conditions such as pregnancy? It’s no wonder that car-crash fatalities are more often women than men.

Caroline Criado Perez cites this and other examples in her new book, Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. She argues that because so much of the data collected today ignores gender differences, favoring men as the norm, design bias and discrimination are inescapable—and women are paying with their time, finances, and even lives.

Mars discusses this and more with Perez in this week’s podcast. Taking a closer look at these issues illuminates the importance of having a voice in the design process—a literal seat at the table—whether it’s to ensure diversity in artificial intelligence or simply human-centered design in everyday products. Check out the podcast below.

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