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The visual language in our surrounding environments perpetuates patriarchal gender roles and fails to include genders other than male. For instance, the majority of public signs that we come across on a daily basis resembles a male body, even in contexts where specifying gender is not necessary.


My research revealed that the idea of “Man as Default”, in fact, exists not only in pictograms, but broadly in different forms of visual languages within various mediums. Even though many decades have passed since the 1970s, modern forms of visual language do not necessarily differ from its predecessors in regard to biased representations.

My research also investigates how “Man as Default” is being perpetuated to this day not only through design, but also in our more traditional means of communication, namely verbal language.

The message of this thesis project is to invite all the visual communicators to become more aware of what they design, as adhering to traditional visual language propagates socially outdated norms in public and digital spaces. Therefore, it is important for design practitioners to rethink the ways of visual communication in order to prevent widespread use of designs that pertain to systematic oppression.

I hope the examples I brought up from everyday scenarios and ideas for improvements discussed within this thesis, will make a room for discussion and inspire collective action, in order to make visual design more inclusive and intersectional.