The international Gender Design Network (iGDN)


Mission and Objectives

Design is an essential part of our everyday life and environment. Yet, the degree to which gender affects design – in production, distribution and, indeed, use – is still being underestimated.


There is still no equal participation of female designers in all areas of design: following society’s hetero-normative clichés, competences and responsibilities traditionally regarded as “female” or “male”, are distributed unequally. This means: on all sides, the potential of the genders is not being adequately considered and acknowledged.


The iGDN is an international initiative dedicated to putting the subject of Gender and Design on the agenda. iGDN brings together – in events and as a platform for sharing ideas, research and information – people from all over the world and from all business sectors to form an influential and powerful network.


We need intensive and networked discussions and actions, and we need a precise understanding of the cultural, social and economic determination and contextualisation of gender relations in design. The iGDN wants to raise awareness of societal gendering in design and will, in a critical and open way, publicly comment on and discuss issues related to this subject. The aim is to effect change towards acknowledgement and support of diversity and towards gender-sensitive and gender-equal design theory and practice.



The iGDN foundation meeting took place in 2013 in New York, following an invitation from Parsons The New School for Design. Participants and speakers included: Paola Antonelli, Laurene Leon Boym and Simone Douglas from New York, Milena Mussi (Bologna), Lena Berglin (Gothenburg), Lorraine Justice (Rochester) and Yan Yan Lam and Hanna Wirmann from Hong Kong.


The iGDN has an international advisory board (‘Ambassadors’): Lucia Cuba and Simone Douglas (New York), Doreen Toutikian (Beirut), Maja Gunn (Stockholm), Joung Youn Lee (Seoul) and Hanna Wirmann (Hong Kong).


The current board members of the iGDN’s German head office are: Uta Brandes (Chair), Claudia Herling and Uta Flick (Vice Chairs).


Activity Profile

  • Promoting, using and developing networking
  • Organising conferences and workshops, both regionally and internationally
  • Providing information:
    • Latest research findings
    • News from universities, institutions and companies
    • Discussion of current issues in design
    • Reporting on the public gender debate, contributing a critical voice and actively engaging in the discussions
  •     Development and maintenance of design and gender-related databases
  •     Carrying out studies, for example:
    • Equality and diversity: the situation of female designers
    • Design juries and the percentage of female designer judges
    • Gender design and digital life
    • Gender design and cultural life
    • Gender design and business / the economy
    • Gendered products
    •  Gendered shopping behaviour
    • Initiative to provide consultancy to cities reg. gender-sensitive issues


Important and Exemplary Activities

Travelling exhibition with supporting conference


  • Hong Kong, Design Institute for Social Innovation at HK PolyU: ‘The Great Small’, a three-month exhibition and a conference with keynote speakers Sheila Levrant De Bretteville, Yale University, New Haven/USA; Elizabeth ‘Dori’ Tunstall, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne/Australia; Uta Brandes, Technical University Cologne.
  • Hamburg, designxport: two-month exhibition and discussion on gender-sensitive design
  • Berlin, designtransfer, exhibition and panel discussion
  • Hanover University, two-month exhibition and conference



  • Gender and Design in Action: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Technological Interactions, Chemnitz Technical University


Workshops on Gender & Design at various universities (ongoing)

Latest Activities


  • Gender Saloon: Gender design round table – theoretical and political positions
  • Research project (in planning): Gender-sensitive cities
  • Editing a special issue of GENDER magazine, focusing on Gender in Design (publication date: September 2017)
  • iphiGenia Gender Design Award
    Annual award for outstanding gender-sensitive design, awarded in two categories: ‘Evolution’ recognises both established and young companies, agencies or other initiatives that explicitly support the cause of gender-sensitive design and whose work unites an all-embracing, convincing approach with excellence in design and execution. The iphiGenia Gender Design Award ‘Revolution’ recognises an individual product (including campaigns, communication design, digital designs, services etc.) showing a credible and innovative fusion of gender-sensitivity and intelligent design.


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