Designing for Gender Equality in the Developing Context: Developing a Gender-Integrated Design Process to Support Designers' Seeing, Process, and Space Making
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Focusing on gender equality and women's empowerment has been established as a keystone strategy for addressing all major international development goals. While designers (architects, landscape architects, planners, engineers) are frequently called to serve in the developing world, they are rarely equipped to see and understand the unique challenges created by gender inequality. Without these tools, design interventions may not address these concerns; have the potential to further reinforce existing obstacles, discrimination, or influences of the built environment; and reduce the effectiveness of planned interventions. With this thesis, I examine five fields of expertise to¬ inform a Gender-Integrated Design Process. These fields range from well-established academic frameworks to areas that have been less explored in traditional design practice: the field of Women in Development/Gender and Development; gender, space, and status literature; ergonomics; proxemics; and participatory design. All research reveals that no design is gender neutral and a gender neutral lens perpetuates women's inequality. To inform and reflect upon the research, I examine six precedents spanning four continents. Through this inquiry, I identify ways to discern, value, and integrate gender into all aspects of the design process, from initial engagement to post-occupancy evaluation. The result of this work is a proposed nine-step Gender-Integrated Design Process to support designers' ¬¬seeing, process, and space making. No design is gender neutral and a gender neutral lens perpetuates women's inequality.
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