Following three years of international collaboration, Carleton University and its partners marked the successful conclusion of the Gendered Design in STEAM (GDS) Program on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022 with a virtual summative closing event.

Launched in 2019, the GDS Program focused on investigating and advancing gendered design with scholars at institutions across the global souths through 20 grant-awarded projects. The program aimed to contribute to more inclusive technological designs in science, technology, engineering, the arts and math by building capacity in gendered design and innovations.

The GDS Program was led by principal investigators Prof. Bjarki Hallgrimsson of the School of Industrial Design and Prof. Dominique Marshall of the Department of HistoryProf. Chiara Del Gaudio of the School of Industrial Design was the program’s investigator, with Kerry Grace serving as the program’s coordinator.

The GDS Program featured 20 grant-awarded projects spanning 13 countries,

The awarded scholars worked in a variety of STEAM fields with a common goal to identify and overcome gender bias and tackle issues especially affecting women in Lower-and-Middle-Income countries (LMIC). The scholars were encouraged to use participatory design in their research to bring diverse and critical perspectives to address gender issues by including the affected population (often women) directly in their project, reshaping how design challenges and solutions are addressed.

“It has been an awarding and humbling experience to work with the 20 projects spread out over the world,” says Hallgrimsson. “The enthusiasm shown by our colleagues in Africa, Latin America and Asia is clearly indicative of how important community-oriented STEAM work with a focus on Gender is.

“This project has not only mobilized a strong collaboration between academics and communities in the Northern and Southern hemispheres alone; it has created an opportunity for researchers across the Carleton campus to work together with a common goal and for students to do truly interdisciplinary work across four Faculties.”

The GDS Program, centrally managed and coordinated by Carleton University, was made possible by a $1.1 million grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

During the program’s first year, a call for expression of interest and proposal submission was executed. Program awards were then announced in September 2020, with Carleton centrally leading and coordinating a hub of activities to explore, build knowledge and advance gendered design thinking.

Activities for the awarded scholars included multi-day workshops that encouraged networking and collaborative discoveries, explored the interconnection between power, design and gender, and investigated the prototyping aspects of research projects – evolving the notion of what prototypes are and how they can be used. Information and knowledge sharing were enhanced with the release of a GDS Bulletin.

“We tried to keep the definitions of ‘gender’ and ‘design’ wide open from the start and watched how university colleagues handled these notions across disciplines and geographical areas, together with the extraordinary local communities with whom they partnered,” says Marshall.

The program was supported by 10 interdisciplinary experts, 15 Research Assistants, four RA Coordinators and a gender expert based at Carleton University, in collaboration with the expertise and knowledge of three Regional Experts for Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Despite delays and ongoing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the GDS Program and its 20 project teams were able to adapt, learn and continue with research activities. Their achievements were celebrated at a closing event hosted from campus at Carleton with academic partners attending virtually. A series of short videos, created by RAs from Carleton, on each of the projects were watched together.

[Project ID17 – Improving the design of public transport based on women’s experiences in Turkey] – Curved bar forces passengers to hold onto a designated area creating space for each individual.

[Project ID33 – Improving access to financial services for women in Ethiopia] – Graphic of the prototype Chatbot application that allows the user to easily access their accounts and other financial services

[Project ID37 – Exploring urban childcare infrastructures to support women’s autonomy in Argentina] – Neighbour of Alberdi drawing the locations of urban care services she uses and mapping how she transit the city on a typical day of the week.

[Project ID38 – Designing support services for women experiencing workplace harassment in Pakistan] – Cards created and used during the discussions with the women participants.

[Project ID40 – Assessing the impact of solar panels to improve energy access for women in rural Ghana] – Research team members on a field visit to island communities.

[Project ID41 – Re/designing the University of Buenos Aires campus to be gender inclusive in Argentina]

[Project ID47 – Improving the design of upland fish drying technology for female fish vendors in Nigeria] – Prototype model and full size working prototype.

[Project ID50 – Designing mobile services for aging women in Malaysia]

[Project ID53 – A case study of clothing design considerations of low-income, menopausal women in Brazil] – Image used as part of a survey conducted with middle-aged low-income women in Brazil about perceptions of their body.

[Project ID57 – Developing an alternative energy-sourced fish dryer to improve processing for small-scale female processors in Nigeria] – Early prototype of a hybrid solar-biomass fish dryer.

[Project ID61 – Developing innovative urban design strategies to combat gender violence in Mexico] – A proposal draft of a new bus stop design by Ariel Alonso de la Torre Ramos.

[Project ID65 – Constructing an eco-friendly generator for low-income female artisans in Nigeria] – Paper Sketch of the proposed fuel-less generator.

[Project ID71 – Developing small wind turbines with local women for domestic use in Mauritius] – Initial results from the household survey on renewable energy.

[Project ID73 – Improving the design process for housing and public spaces based on women’s experiences in Rwanda] – I&M bank breastfeeding room was one place looked at in field work.

[Project ID74 – Improving transportation systems for women in Rwanda] – Buses are the main source of public transportation in Kigali City, Rwanda. Other public transport systems include motorcycles and bicycles.

[Project ID79 – Improving transportation systems for women in Rwanda] – Participants displaying batik results after stamping and dyeing the fabric.

[Project ID80 – Reimagining urban territories for women’s autonomy in Colombia] – Community members cooking together in the community space and kitchen they are constructing in the neighbourhood of Bélen, Bogotá.

[Project ID88 – Developing new construction techniques based on the work of women in Brazil] – Pana – a feminist technological tool, containing instructions on the ancestral technologies that have been central to the territories where these women inhabit.

[Project ID91 – Studying the use of artifacts to rebuild self-image and identity among female breast cancer survivors in Brazil] – Personal artifacts are an outlet to strengthen self-image and rebuild personal identity. Artifacts can be scarfs, self portraits, painting, photography and sculpturing.

[Project IDA – 3D-printed prostheses to support low-income female survivors of domestic violence, accidents or cancer treatment in Brazil] – Upper limb fitting and occupational therapy.

Learn more about the GDS Program and the funded research projects.

Thursday, October 6, 2022 in
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