Women and men have different requirements in the workplace. For example: in railway, road or airport control centres men often outnumber women. The workplaces are therefore geared mostly to the needs of men and the requirements of female employees may be overlooked.
"Currently there are few studies in this area. Recent surveys, both in the military as well as in occupational medicine, show gender specific workplace needs. This lack of knowledge makes it difficult for companies to develop gender-sensitive work environments", said Frank Michel Berger, Head of the project and the Carl Ritter von Ghega Institute for Integrated Mobility Research at St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences. This could also be a reason for the continued strong male dominance in these workplaces.
Male and female workplaces
In a recently completed project GenSiSys (Gender-Friendly Design of Workplaces in the Area of Safety-Critical Systems), Michel Berger and his team together with partner organizations: Frequentis AG, USECON - The Usability Consultants GmbH, the Institute of Design and Assessment of Technology at Vienna University of Technology and the Centre for Interaction, Media & Social Diversity (ZIMD), have developed methods for the evaluation of gender dimensions for ergonomics and usability in workplaces in safety-critical systems. Control centres of the Austrian Federal Railway as well as the emergency control centre for Lower Austria were examined.
There are studies which show, for example, that there are gender specific differences in orientation and path finding strategies. Other studies show that colours (colour coding on screens, colour design of spaces) are perceived differently by men and women and can cause differences in performance. Differences can also be perceived in sitting position and sitting behaviour. Appropriate methods such as mobile eye tracking or centre-of-pressure measurement (measurement of sitting behaviour by means of sensorial seat cushions) were used and examined.
Guideline for control centres
The result of the interdisciplinary project is a guideline for gender and diversity criteria in a safety-critical work environment. "The present guideline is intended to support those responsible in organizations when implementing appropriate criteria", said Peter Judmaier, Lecturer in the Department Media and Digital Technologies at St. Pölten UAS and Scientific Director of the project. The guideline (in German) is available online for download and provides concrete instructions. It is divided into three sections: guidelines, methods and testing guidelines.
The project was supported by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology in the framework of the program "Talent". On the part of St. Pölten UAS, the Department Health Sciences with the study course Physiotherapy and the Department of Social Sciences were also involved.
Guideline to the Project
Frank Michel Berger et. al. Gender- und Diversity-Kriterien im sicherheitskritischen Arbeitsumfeld (Gender and Diversity Criteria in the Safety-Critical Work Environment). Ein Leitfaden zur methodengestützten Evaluierung (A guideline to method-supported evaluation). Neopubli 2016.
84 pages, ISBN-10: 3741809969, ISBN-13: 978-3741809965, € 24.50.