What happens when the men’s room sign is pink?

20130315_Washroom @ Ewha Women University (2)

Blue is for boys and pink is for girls. This color-gender association is strongly established in many countries. In a women’s university in Korea, however, signs for men’s rooms and for ladies’ rooms are both colored in pink. My friend said that using the same color aims to avoid any gender discrimination. Interestingly however, pink signs seem to confuse men when searching for the men’s room. Even worse, they often feel uncomfortable while using it. Indeed, the additional verbal information, “men,” is attached on the door of the other men’s room (below).

20130315_Washroom @ Ewha Women University (3)

This raises a series of interesting questions. First, does the different colors discriminate different genders? Secondly, if this is the case, should we sacrifice our color-based convenience in order to promote social justice? Thirdly, if the color-based convenience needs to be replaced with other coding systems, what are the candidates that do not discriminate genders? Finally, if the shape-gender association is a good candidate (below), how do we effectively UN-learn the color-gender association and newly learn the shape-gender association?

20130315_Washroom @ Ewha Women University (1)