Abstract

In this paper, I present a framework for a feminist design research and practice. It aims to guide design decisions from information, ideation to evaluation from a feminist point of view. It tries to facilitate the selection of appropriate approaches and methods in each phase with regard to feminist demands and requirements to support a feminist design on a methodological, practical and evaluative level. The framework integrates different gender theories whose perspectives correspond to main phases and focuses that can be regarded as mandatory for human centered design. The framework integrates the feminist standpoint theory, the theory of gender performativity and the concept of ‘doing gender’ expanded by the actor network theory. The feminist standpoint theory guides the designers’ attention to marginalized target groups and experiences within the phase of information and ideation. Feminist poststructuralist theories like the theory of performativity focus on the cultural construction of gender in media and artifacts. Consequently, they have a natural link to the design domain and can guide designers’ decisions during the phase of inspiration and ideation. Design in this phase is challenged to invent new forms of gender representations and experiences to contribute to a socially fair and plural society. If a design concept or artifact meets feminist demands and requirements just becomes visible in interaction and use. The concept of ‘doing gender’ in combination with actor network theory focus on sociomaterial interactions and promise to provide benchmarks for a feminist design evaluation. The application and empirical benefit of the framework is illustrated by a brief case study. The example shows how feminist perspectives can enhance the selection of methods, the critical reflection of designers’ gender assumptions and the evaluation of design results with regards to their failure or success in terms of changing gender roles and behavior to meet social equality.

Keywords

feminism, gender studies, feminist design research, feminist design, participatory design, human centered design

COinS
 
Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

How can Feminism contribute to Design? A Framework for a feminist Design Research and Practice

In this paper, I present a framework for a feminist design research and practice. It aims to guide design decisions from information, ideation to evaluation from a feminist point of view. It tries to facilitate the selection of appropriate approaches and methods in each phase with regard to feminist demands and requirements to support a feminist design on a methodological, practical and evaluative level. The framework integrates different gender theories whose perspectives correspond to main phases and focuses that can be regarded as mandatory for human centered design. The framework integrates the feminist standpoint theory, the theory of gender performativity and the concept of ‘doing gender’ expanded by the actor network theory. The feminist standpoint theory guides the designers’ attention to marginalized target groups and experiences within the phase of information and ideation. Feminist poststructuralist theories like the theory of performativity focus on the cultural construction of gender in media and artifacts. Consequently, they have a natural link to the design domain and can guide designers’ decisions during the phase of inspiration and ideation. Design in this phase is challenged to invent new forms of gender representations and experiences to contribute to a socially fair and plural society. If a design concept or artifact meets feminist demands and requirements just becomes visible in interaction and use. The concept of ‘doing gender’ in combination with actor network theory focus on sociomaterial interactions and promise to provide benchmarks for a feminist design evaluation. The application and empirical benefit of the framework is illustrated by a brief case study. The example shows how feminist perspectives can enhance the selection of methods, the critical reflection of designers’ gender assumptions and the evaluation of design results with regards to their failure or success in terms of changing gender roles and behavior to meet social equality.

 

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