Embracing Intersectionality: A call for Social Change

As we are celebrating International Women's Day, it's crucial to reflect on the journey toward gender equality. While various voices have contributed to this discourse, it's important to broaden our perspective beyond any single individual's narrative.

Stereotypes and Misconceptions Surrounding Feminism

From early childhood, societal norms shape our perceptions of gender roles, and how we should behave, often relegating women to passive roles while perpetuating the myth of male superiority.

Despite the efforts of many to redefine feminism as a movement for equality, misconceptions persist.

“Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.”
― bell hooks, Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics

One common misunderstanding is that feminism seeks to elevate women above men when in reality, it advocates for the dismantling of oppressive systems that harm people of all genders. As bell hooks offers this definition to Feminist Theory, by naming sexism as the problem it goes directly to the heart of the matter. “It is a definition which implies that all sexist thinking and action is the problem, whether those who perpetuate it are female or male, child or adult.”

Integral to the feminist movement is the concept of intersectionality, a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw. Intersectional feminism acknowledges that individuals experience oppression differently based on the intersection of their various identities, such as race, class, sexuality, disability, and more. For example, a woman of colour may face unique challenges that white women do not, queer or trans women or people socialised women may experience discrimination distinct from straight cis women. It compels us to recognise these intersecting forms of oppression and centre the voices and experiences of those who are most marginalised.

Throughout history, feminist figures have championed this approach to activism, advocating for the rights of all communities. Icons like Kimberlé Crenshaw, Audre Lorde, and bell hooks have emphasised the importance of addressing interconnected forms of oppression and building solidarity across diverse identities.

The Ambition Tightrope

In today's world, women often find themselves navigating a narrow path between ambition and societal expectations. While ambition is celebrated in men, women who aspire to greatness are often labelled as bossy. Society's expectations regarding gender roles further compound this issue, as women are disproportionately burdened with unpaid care work and household responsibilities. This disparity not only limits women's opportunities for advancement but also perpetuates harmful stereotypes about gender roles.

It is also important to acknowledge that not all individuals conform to societal gender norms, and that includes transgender women and non-binary people. By implementing equitable rules, we can create a level playing field for everyone, regardless of gender identity, to succeed in business.

No items found.


Despite significant progress, gender inequality persists in various fields, including the workplace, politics, and society at large.

Caroline Criado Perez's work, "Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men," offers invaluable insights into the pervasive nature of gender inequality and the urgent need for change. From urban planning and healthcare to workplace policies and technology, Perez's research reveals how gender bias shapes every aspect of our lives.

In design, if the hardware is easier to see how it is affecting women or not fitting them, it’s relatively easy to fix, but what about softwares and algorithms?

As Perez points out in her interview with Lauren Goode for Wired:

“My real concern lies in algorithms being trained on highly biased male data sets, and the way these algorithms are being introduced in all sorts of areas of our lives. That goes from voice recognition systems that don’t recognise female voices, to online dictionaries, to algorithms deciding whether a certain CV will ever reach human eyes. And this is often proprietary software, so we don’t always get to see whether gender bias is being accounted for. So we’re outsourcing the future to private companies that are using biased data sets, and there’s no way of knowing what’s going on there.” 

The Need For Diversity

It is normal that someone who is not living the same experience is not thinking about the same solutions, the problem persists when it is not about forgetting but excluding. For example, with car manufacturers, the decision was made in the EU to finally introduce a female car crash system and it’s just a scaled-down male dummy, increasing the chances for women to be injured during car accidents, although women are less involved in car accidents than men (47% more likely to be seriously injured when it happens, 71% more likely to be lightly injured and 17% to die).

How did that decision happen? How can we design more inclusively?

Prioritise gender-diverse design teams: Gender bias in output is inevitable if teams aren’t diverse. it’s crucial to ensure that diverse voices, including those of women and other marginalised groups, are represented in decision-making processes. Conduct user research with women and gender-diverse people throughout R&D and introduce more female and LGBTQIA+ leadership that understand the mission of intersectional technology.

Women’s work has been fundamental in paving the way for next-gen femme designers, from Swedish brand Volvo’s YYC concept car designed for women by women in 2004 to Clue, the first period and ovulation tracking app designed in 2012 by Danish entrepreneur IdaTin. However, representation remains a challenge. According to research conducted in 2021 by Zippia, in the US, 8% of industrial designers were LGBTQIA+ and 19% were women; a statistic that decreased from 31% in 2011.

Diversify data sets to close the gender information gap: To address gender disparities effectively, we must first understand the extent of the problem. Collecting and analysing gender-disaggregated data can help identify gaps and inform evidence-based policies and interventions.

Design with inclusivity and empathy in mind: Whether it's designing public spaces, products, or services, we must prioritise gender-inclusive design. When representation isn’t prioritised, inaccurate assumptions are made, from the CMF choices to the functionality of products. Ultimately, consumers want their nuances to be understood outside of their gender, void of the “shrink it and pink it” mentality.

In conclusion, International Women's Day serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for gender equality and the importance of our social responsibility. It’s time to recognise that it’s not just a women’s issue, but everyone's issue. As we celebrate the accomplishments on this date, we must acknowledge the work that remains to be done in achieving equal respect and dignity regardless of gender identity.


Most Recent Articles

Embracing Intersectionality: A call for Social Change
Celebrating Women's Day: A Synergy Between PHOENIX and WILKHAHN
Cultivating a Feedback Culture: Insights from PHOENIX's Case Clinic
Embrace Renewal: Transform Your Space and Mindset
A Legacy of Excellence: The iF Design Award Prestige
Fishbowl - a powerful tool for team discussions
Back to Overview