Every woman has — at least once — come across an item that reminds them that many things are not designed with them in mind. The size of a hand-held item, such as a cellphone, may be a bit too large to be used comfortably, for instance. Or the step up into a vehicle is a bit too high. Or, as Marissa Fayer noted during a keynote address at MD&M East in New York, perhaps even the stage setup is designed for someone bigger.
"It's like this lectern, which, at 5-foot 3-inches, I am not going to use because it was designed for a man," said Fayer, founder and CEO of HERhealthEQ, a New York City-based nonprofit focused on women's health and medical equipment needs.
Sometimes those design differences are mere annoyances, prone to simplistic changes by manufacturers — a move often referred to as the "pink it and shrink it" approach.
For medical devices, that approach can impact both women's health care and opportunities for medical staff, Fayer told our sister paper Rubber News.
"Equipment should be designed by women, for women," she said. "Your design teams should include women. Only about 5 to 10 percent of orthopedic surgeons are women. Do you know why? Because their hands, in most cases, are too small to grip the devices, because the devices were designed by men. You need to be sure you are inclusive and including women in the design phase, not just having them on the testing side."
To make those changes happen, men in the industry need to be champions for women and make sure they're involved in product development and technology, she added.
And while I'm at it, here's a reminder that nominations for PN's Women Breaking the Mold are open until June 30. Head here for more information.