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On Empathy - Kat Bak


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These are the slides for the talk I did at #LadiesThatUXMelbourne about Empathy and Design.

Our tech and design industry looks like our other societal structures. White, cis, male, heteronormative, able-bodied, neurotypical. This isn't reflecting or serving the true diversity of our society. This diverseness of society is something we're exposed to on a much more vast scale thanks to technology.

We need diverse, truly inclusive teams working with empathy in technology and design.

Published in: Design
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On Empathy - Kat Bak

  1. 1. Hi, I’m Kat 👋 @wellwhoiskat
  2. 2. I’m a queer non-binary designer, illustrator and writer. I’m also nervous 😅
  3. 3. Using my skills, experiences & privilege as tools to push for social change.
  4. 4. Empathy & Design
  5. 5. What is Empathy? empathy /ˈɛmpəθi/ noun 1. the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
 Empathy is the experience of understanding another person's thoughts, feelings, and condition from their point of view, rather than from your own. You try to imagine yourself in their place in order to understand what they are feeling or experiencing. Empathy facilitates prosocial (helping) behaviors that come from within, rather than being forced, so that we behave in a more compassionate manner.
  6. 6. Why Design? 1. Everything is designed.
  7. 7. Why Design? 2. The development of the internet and digital devices has created a new realm through/in which society interacts.
  8. 8. Why Design? 3. We are the people who are designing, building, creating, influencing, enabling these new means of communication and information dissemination. It’s a new realm of societal interaction.
  9. 9. A warning: This doesn’t mean we should only design for companies/products that ‘do good’. This is a position of privilege. It isn’t always obvious if a company is ‘good’.
  10. 10. Why Design: Unique position of power, influence and responsibility. But uh, there’s an issue we have to address first...
  11. 11. (Design + Empathy) ≠ Social Change Diverse, inclusive teams designing with empathy.
  12. 12. (Design * Empathy) + (Diversity * Inclusion) = Social Change Designing with empathy isn’t the only way we’re going to achieve social change. Our industry is starting to look like our societal structures. Not equal.
  13. 13. What can you do? 1. Call it out 2. Do what you can 3. Self reflect 4. Lift as you climb 5. Effective Allyship
  14. 14. Call it out If you can, call out things that are unethical or problematic. Whether they are design practices, dark UX patterns, workplace dynamics or unbalanced, non-inclusive teams.
  15. 15. Do what you can Do what is actually within your capacity. Another toxic tech industry trope is the always-busy-always-working mentality. Allow yourself space, you are human and do your best work when you practice self care.
  16. 16. Self reflect & examine Be wary of being elitist. Using criticism about vocabulary, language and grammar is far more problematic than useful. Further to that - is this your space? Are you amplifying and empowering, or trying to be a hero? Remember to use a base of empathy.
  17. 17. Lift as you climb Have you received an opportunity? If you can, pass it on to underrepresented folks.
  18. 18. Effective allyship 1. Understand privilege.
 2. Amplify and empower. 3. Hold yourself accountable 4. Prioritise impact over intent
 5. Focus on intersectionality These steps are from Fundamentals of Effective Allyship by Karolina Szczur, available in a resource tweet pinned on my timeline 😊
  19. 19. How do you design your digital communities? Reflect on the digital communities you’ve cultivated online - your Facebook, Twitter, Slack, Instagram, LinkedIn... Have you created a safe, diverse digital space? Or is it a homogenous echo chamber?
  20. 20. Thank you! Victor Papanek - Design For The Real World Sara Wachter-Boettcher - Technically Wrong Eric Meyer & Sara Wachter-Boettcher - Design For Real Life Important Resources: Cory-Ann Joseph - Diversity Time Machine Karolina Szczur - Effective Allyship How Might We Do Good Mike Monteiro