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STEAM AHEAD: Supporting inclusive design in the Global South

October 9, 2020
Imagine a world where public transport systems are built to protect women and girls from harassment; where mobile technology takes age and gender inclusion into account; and generators are designed to be affordable for rural artisans.
Many methods of fish preservation are inefficient and pose health risks to the many women working in the sector in the Global South. Design could help to improve conditions.
Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS)

Design dictates so much of our lives, from the way we get around, to how our cities function, to the shape and feel of the goods we buy. Yet for decades, design catered to wealthy countries over poor, and male wage earners over everyone else. That is changing, as innovative scholars in humanities, social sciences, and design actively transform the traditional science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields into something with a more human-centred approach, taking STEM to STEAM by including the arts.  Programs like Carleton University’s Gendered Design in STEAM (GDS) Program are helping to chart that new course for the future, which is why IDRC is pleased to be funding this initiative.

The twenty selected GDS research teams come from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and work in a variety of design fields, but they share a common goal: to identify and overcome gender bias and tackle issues especially affecting women in lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Driven by local interests, the awarded projects go beyond the common focus of gender innovations in health and agriculture by supporting advances in the fields of STEAM related to: transport, renewable energy, built environment and housing, manufacturing, infrastructure, and accessibility.

Another feature of the GDS program is that it seeks to respond to global gaps in gendered research and design. It seeks to expand the community of experts and innovators in LMICs; develop gendered case studies and design projects that are driven by LMIC interests and researchers; and make gendered challenges in the design of technologies more visible to researchers, designers, and innovators in LMICs.

More on Carleton’s program, including information about each winning project, can be found here: