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Dundee University Workshop Reflection

Last Friday, we were invited back as alumni to the University of Dundee to host a guest workshop on inclusive design. We presented to a large group of second year students who were all studying a range of disciplines. It was our first workshop for HerCollective and covered a range of areas relating to inclusivity and planning better spaces for women. Here's a 'reflection' on the presentation and summary of what we covered.

Figure 1 - Edinburgh (HerCollective, 2022)

We started off the workshop with discussing relevant literature and media articles that inspired us both when we began HerCollective to start thinking about design with a gender lens. To understand the extent to which women are not included in the decision-making process, we went on to look at local and national policy. Throughout our research we have searched development plans and key policy documents for buzzwords that refer to gender and although equality is frequently mentioned in planning policy, it usually refers to socioeconomic groups and equal opportunities and therefore not directly recognising that men and women use space differently. So, current policy fails to acknowledge that gender mainstreaming is a fundamental part of urban outputs.

Following on from this, we listed relevant questions that engaged students to critically analyse public space – starting with an example (Figure 1). General maintenance of the public realm including the quality of the materials or upkeep of vegetation, natural surveillance or CCTV and lighting are all factors that contribute to making a space accessible and safer for the women that use it. Figures 2, 3 and 4 are other photos we included in this part of our workshop.

Figure 2 - Edinburgh (HerCollective, 2022)

In previous blogs we have established that everyone uses space differently and, although planning with a gender lens is important, even within one gender, space is navigated and accessed in many ways. We used several persona examples that explored what an individual’s needs are based on their daily commutes or experiences. From young women to elderly men, migrants and trans people, this exercise demonstrated the range of ways people use space.

Figure 3 - Edinburgh (HerCollective, 2022)

The remainder of the workshop discussed key case studies and theories into feminist urbanism and why planning for women is so important. We concluded the presentation with what we have been working on so far at HerCollective and future research and targets. To personalise what we had presented, we encouraged the students to continue learning and understanding the subject area and sharing their ideas or lessons with others then to consider ways in which they can implement initiatives into their future work.

Figure 4 - Edinburgh (HerCollective, 2022)

Overall, considering it was our first workshop that we developed and presented as HerCollective, the session went well. Of course, there is much more that must be covered, and we are just at the tip of the iceberg but within the space of two hours we covered a range of relevant areas within the subject of inclusivity. We attempted to make the presentation interactive to conduct discussions amongst the class to evaluate existing public space and come up with innovative ideas to make areas more inclusive. Expecting limited responses from students, we were pleasantly surprised but in future we hope to get our audience more involved potentially with ‘break out rooms’ or making use of the poll feature.

We are looking forward to bringing this workshop discussion into practice as well as academic environments. If you are looking for diversifying your CPD programme please drop us an email.

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