Gender-Neutral Design Becoming a Universal Design

Suzanne Tick, leading textile designer, in her article “His & Hers? Designing for a Post-Gender Society” focuses on the gender revolution occurring in today’s workplace where individuals are finding androgyny as a commonplace. More specifically, Tick describes this revolution as a human phenomenon that is forcing the current design landscape in the work place to modify itself to accommodate it. In other words, she introduces idea of gender-neutral design in the workplace where people can exercise their androgyny safely and comfortably.  For example, the author expresses that the focus of gend

An example of the implementation of gender inclusive bathrooms at American University.

er-neutral design in the workplace has become the implementation of gender-neutral bathrooms. However, this transition has not been smooth because the success of a gender-neutral design depends on the individuals using that designed space. Tick gives an example where both female and male employees expressed discomfort over the idea that a transgender coworker would be using their bathrooms. What she means here is that gender neutral designs in the office depend on our current work culture to react positively to them, and by doing so the creation of a safe space where individuals can just be no matter who they identify as, is possible. For Tick, then, gender neutral design in the workplace matters because it leads to the concept of universal design in a post-gender world.

The concept of universal design in a post gender society is a big conversation in response to the need of changing individuals to feel accommodated and accepted.  In other words, in a world
where androgyny has become a commonplace, neutral spaces need to be created where everyone can express their own individuality safely. On one hand, the architectural world has responded to this conversation with the implementation of gender-neutral design which is a step in the right direction. On the other hand, however, not all individuals agree with this changing design landscape and their rejection of it makes it unsuccessful. This leads to the conclusion that universal design is a great concept because it responds to accommodate our post gender world, but since the success of gender-neural spaces depends on the individuals the space is in direct contact with then it is not truly universal yet.

If further interest in the topic persists, check out my blog post about gender-neutral bathrooms in American University.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *