Tag Archives: gender

How does Taipei MRT differ from Copenhagen metro?

Taipei Metro covers more stations than Copenhagen Metro. It covers 117 stations (vs. 22 stations). Like other Asian trains, it has seats designated for the people who are in need. A poster in the train asks us to “stand up for someone in need” in a gentle and polite way, that is, “也許他/她有需要,只是你看不到 (maybe she/he has the need, you just can’t see it).”



In contrast, Copenhagen trains have fewer folding seats (for bicycles and strollers) and have no seat for those who are in need. Interestingly, I have seen many seats are available because only few travelers sit down rather temporarily. Why do and how could many Danes stand up whereas many Taiwanese sit down in their trains?




How to avoid long lines for women’s restrooms

Women differ from men. Carol Reiley mentioned in her blog post titled When Bias in Product Design Means Life or Death that “female drivers are 47% more likely to be seriously injured in a car crash” because seat belts were historically designed to be safe for men and thus unsafe for women. When it comes to our everyday lives, I believe we need more women’s restrooms. In an article titled the everyday sexism of women waiting in public toilet line, Soraya Chemaly wrote that “long lines for women’s restrooms are the results of a history that favors men’s bodies.” She said,

Women need to use bathrooms more often and for longer periods of time because: we sit to urinate (urinals effectively double the space in men’s rooms), we menstruate, we are responsible for reproducing the species (which makes us pee more), we continue to have greater responsibility for children (who have to use bathrooms with us), and we breastfeed (frequently in grotty bathroom stalls). Additionally, women tend to wear more binding and cumbersome clothes, whereas men’s clothing provides significantly speedier access. But in a classic example of the difference between surface “equality” and genuine equity, many public restrooms continue to be facilities that are equal in physical space, while favoring men’s bodies, experiences, and needs.

Although I cannot agree with her more, this issue has not been well addressed in most public spaces. Fortunately, I recently found a women-friendly building located in Seoul. It is Stradeum, the building exclusively dedicated to sound-sensitive music lovers. In this building, visitors enjoy listening to a wide variety of music using hand-held devices or stand-alone speakers manufactured by Astell & Kern. This building installed three women’s restrooms and one men’s restroom and, this is probably why there is no line in front of both restrooms.






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)