A brief titled ‘Does Feminism Matter?’ was developed for 3rd year undergraduate visual communication students at Western Sydney University, in Greater Western Sydney, the most culturally diverse region in Australia. The focus of this presentation is on a cross-section of male-identifying students’ responses to this brief underpinned by feminist social design pedagogy. The brief enabled students to explore their own thinking about feminism, as well as their communities, as a starting point to a reciprocal learning experience as social designers and communicators. The brief charged students with activating feminist issues that were deemed to matter, or not, by designing a campaign for social media that engages an agenda or calls for action from/for their social circles, orgs/NFPs, and audiences, for whom feminism does/should matter.
The brief intentionally coincides with the month of March where feminist politics are foregrounded in International Women’s Day, and the reporting of a stagnating gender pay gap in Australia. Other focal points include Australia’s commencement of a ‘reckoning’ and insurgency against sexism and sexual violence, an alarming tipping point in Australian parliamentary culture, and witnessing the rise of March4Justice (an accountability movement). Starkly aware of their female peers, sisters, friends, we found that male identifying students were motivated by damning statistics from the design industry about leadership positions for non-male creatives, and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) scorecard, to recognise that thriving requires honing the ‘soft’ communication skills of collaboration and empathy underpinned by principles of social justice and equity. Speaking pedagogically, we work to ensure that our creatives develop social justice credentials to drive social transformation and generate thriving futures.
Keywords; feminism, social design, reckoning, Western Sydney, gender equity, creative careers.