Group of courses: Esthetics
Students of all fields of design should be made aware of the significance of the category of gender in the context of women's and gender studies with regard to its historical, socio-cultural, economic, ecological as well as technical dimensions. Students should be enabled to recognise the theoretical, conceptual, empirical, design-related and practical implications of these issues, so that they can implement them actively and creatively in their theoretical and practical work. This applies to all fields of design, as the way of teaching (as a lecturer) or learning (as a student) these approaches, theories and methods, which include the idea of gender as an essential category and gender equality as a natural ingredient of the design process, does not differ according to discipline. Only the content perspectives, i.e. in which field of design women's and gender studies are taught, vary.
Due to the particular nature of the subject design, only general content can be introduced here. In most universities and institutions of higher education, "design" is used as an umbrella term for various degree courses (one exception is the Köln International School of Design which offers a general project degree course that explicitly rules out specialisation in one particular area). Specific design degree courses are: visual communication, product design, media design, fashion design, transportation design or design theory.
The topics outlined below should therefore be understood as examples of essential content rather than an exhaustive list. Design is still a relatively young academic discipline. This makes it particularly dynamic and subject to constant change (new technologies, materials, production processes, etc.). The topics covered are very wide-ranging. To date, however, women's and gender studies have had only a marginal impact on design courses.
Gender relations are not equal in society. This is seen in the area of design on all levels:
It is therefore essential that the perspective of gender relations is dealt with clearly in the teaching content on all three levels referring to theory, research and methodology and the design process.
These areas of research should, as far as possible, take internationality/interculturality into account, where differences occur particularly in the way the sexes relate to each other. Qualitative methods are of most importance here. Design studies based on qualitative observations have proved very valuable. Their results should include analytical visualizations and infographics in addition to text.
Gender is a fundamental component of our culture. There is no genderless or gender-neutral reality. For this reason, any measures and projects should take into account the different life situations, experiences and interests of men and women. The same goes for design courses. This means that gender is not an optional subject that can be taught as an add-on or extra topic. Gender is relevant for all topics. Accordingly, gender studies should be integrated into all design degree courses and projects. If this cannot be implemented immediately, we recommend creating a number of study modules and making them a compulsory part of basic and advanced courses. These should include:
As mentioned above, gender should ideally be made a basic component of design courses, with additional projects for greater focus. It is essential that the content outlined above is made compulsory at Bachelor's level, and as a separate research module at Master's level. We recommend making students sensitive to gender inequalities and implementing gender mainstreaming right from the start of their courses (this can be done via an introductory/orientation course in the first or second semester, with examples of good practice from joint projects as motivation).