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The world is designed for men – but smart energy systems don’t have to be

(The Conversation, 22 Sep 2020) Air conditioned offices often take average male body temperatures as the reference point. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is based on male “body sizes and characteristics”. The tech sector continues to be a male dominated field producing innovation and design that can reinforce gender stereotypes, or ignore the needs of women completely.

The enduring association of women with the provision of unpaid domestic labour also means that their different requirements for things as disparate as consumer goods to public services can go unmet. For example, historical analysis of “labour saving” appliances reveals how these actually increased unpaid domestic labour and turned it into “women’s work”.

Urban transport planning, meanwhile, is aimed at those making daily commutes, while failing those with caring responsibilities. Swedish municipalities famously changed their snow ploughing policy after realising it contributed to gender inequalities. This is because looking after children or elderly family members often means combining the trip to work with a school pick up, or trip to the doctor’s surgery. Cheap, quick (or snow-free) transport options for these small journeys are limited. Women can end up spending more time travelling, even when not going far.

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The Conversation, 22 Sep 2020: The world is designed for men – but smart energy systems don’t have to be