Gender equity in design

Front cover of the Gender Equity in Design Guidelines.What does gender equity have to do with design? Given that design impacts on the way we can navigate the world and participate, quite a bit. Gender equity in design is yet another element of designing inclusively. 

Rights, responsibilities and opportunities should not depend on gender. Treatment of women, men and trans and gender diverse people are often subject to stereotyping or generalisations about roles. But for many designers and policy makers gender equity is a new concept. So the Gender Equity in Design Guidelines are a great help. 

The City of Whittlesea in Victoria got onto the issue in 2017 to produce the Guide. As a local government authority the guide focuses on community facilities. It introduces the case for gender equity and has a focus on issues for women. While there is an emphasis on safety and easy access for women with children, gender diverse groups are not forgotten.  

What the guidelines cover

Many of the features capture the essence of universal design. The twenty page document covers site planning, concept design and documentation for:

      • Community centres
      • Maternal and child health
      • Youth facilities
      • Community pavilions
      • Aquatic and major leisure facilities

The Guidelines acknowledge that any building project goes through several stages and has different stakeholders. Consequently, it only covers planning, concept design and detailed design and documentation. The construction phase is dependent upon the follow-through from planning and design.

The aim of the Guidelines is to provide the best possible blueprint for gender-equitable practice. This means it is only looking through a gender lens and is not a total design guide. Consequently, regulatory standards and building code compliance and accessibility are outside the scope of the document. 

Gender Equity in Design Guidelines were produced by the City of Whittlesea with support from the Victorian Government and the Municipal Association of Victoria.