Design for Women’s Participation in Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) Operation
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Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) operation is an example of a sport that does not appear to have considered female participants in designing ergonomically appropriate equipment. Anecdotal evidence suggested that this design gap was a key factor affecting surf lifesaving (SLS) women’s participation in IRB related activity. This project aimed to better understand what aspects of IRB operation require ergonomic design attention to better physically accommodate women involved or interested in IRB’s. This research applied HCD and Co-design inspired methods to provide SLS women with a voice and the opportunity to assist in designing product/s that are more ergonomically appropriate for their use. The findings contribute to a better understanding of the physical and mental challenges women who operate IRBs face throughout their experience in SLS. The research outcome includes a collaboratively designed product that ergonomically improves the experience of transporting an IRB outboard. The design outcome was as an ergonomic product that aids its users in lifting IRB outboards. It is hoped to provide women with greater confidence to operate and maintain IRBs successfully. The research highlighted aspects of IRB operation that require further investigation, setting a precedent and foundation in IRB operating equipment to cater to and support all the SLS user community ergonomically. The desired outcome of this work was a more significant consideration for the improvement of gender equity within IRB Operation (an assumed, male-dominant SLS activity) and, consequently, SLS culture more generally.