How to be Considerate
- Chloe Sterland
Women often do not feel safe navigating public space, despite current initiatives designed to mitigate this. When addressing safety in public space, responses primarily focus on changing women’s behaviour. The educational atlas, ‘How to Be Considerate,’ provides practical instructions and tools for both strangers and designers, cultivating a fundamental shift in perspective and responsibility. This provides a strong foundation for lasting change.
This project produced two distinct yet connected outcomes.
‘How to be a Considerate Stranger’ analyses the scenario of walking behind someone at night. It is an educational guide designed to help ‘Strangers’ (predominantly males that are unaware of the fear women experience in public space) understand how their actions can lower the ‘female fear’. ‘How to be a Considerate Professional’ integrates this learning into a workshop-based campaign for those involved in the design of public spaces. The workshop reinforces how understanding and incorporating the experiences of women is an integral part of designing inclusive public spaces.
Through educating men on the fear that women experience in public space, this project has the potential for large-scale social impact. Through both micro and macro interventions, this project provides ‘strangers’ with tangible ways they can reduce fear, a response that uniquely does not place responsibility on women. It engages men beyond bystander intervention, empowering them to actively participate in creating environments where women feel safer. Through this, the campaign establishes women and safety as an issue that everyone needs to be involved in, encouraging a much-needed exploration into alternate ways of addressing and discussing women and safety.
‘How to Be Considerate’ was designed in response to the tensions surrounding the complex social issue of women and safety in Melbourne’s public spaces. It contributes a new and highly relevant design intervention in a problem space that is sorely needing direction, creating conversation and behavioural change that could further gender equality. This concept provides a direction that responds to the political and social struggles that have been at the forefront of Victorian and Australian public discussion. Furthermore, the design outcome is also highly relevant and applicable to a global audience, making this a unique example of Victoria’s design culture.
This project provides a new perspective on the highly topical issue of women and safety. Through an educational campaign which explores a relatable situation, ‘How to Be Considerate’ identifies and utilises an under-recognised actor within the problem space, one that can actively create change. Solving this problem in the short-term is extremely difficult to measure, however, this project\’s approach to educating men and others who don\’t realise they are contributing to the problem can help alleviate a common contribution to the fear women experience in public space.
Co-design was central to this project\’s success. Through a literature review and employment of co-design tools to gather primary research, the underutilised group of actors within this issue, ‘Strangers’, was identified. Testing with both the general public and professionals confirmed the gap in education and validated the need for this project. By approaching this issue with humour, openness and understanding of other people\’s opinions, the project harnesses a broad appeal for numerous demographics and beliefs.The positive feedback expressed by both target groups demonstrated that this project provided them with realistic and immediate actions in both personal and professional realms.