Say hello to Liz Kim, Co-Founder + Chief Operating Officer of The Stereotype Project Foundation, an organization that is working to shift perceptions about people and cultures portrayed in the media. She was also kind enough to participate in our Degendering Design panel discussion! Based in New York, Liz has a robust background in finance, human resources, strategy and operations at major companies and now brings her knowledge and resources to the non-profit sector. One of the biggest undertakings for The Stereotype Project is to build a comprehensive global database that notes every stereotype associated with a diversity group to help better educate and drive change. Today, we are thrilled to learn more about Liz, her take on degendering design and the amazing work she is doing with The Stereotype Project Foundation!
Tell us about your work with The Stereotype Project Foundation. :We are a non-profit organization and we are in the process of building the world’s most comprehensive database of stereotypes. Our overall mission is to challenge cultural stereotypes and improve the perceptions of various cultural and social groups around the world. The Stereotype Project Foundation is seeking to deconstruct the way we learn about people and cultures while highlighting both the gaps and biased representation of social groups in the media.
What inspired the start of The Stereotype Project?:Gian Franco, the Co-Founder of TSPF, wrote a white paper back in 2019 wondering how we became so divided and polarizing, leading up to the 2016 election. This took him on a journey of 400 years of the history of propaganda in all forms of media crafted by those in position and power. And the clear intention to spread harmful narratives about people to oppress and further their progression and gain. His thesis was exactly what got us here will be how we will get out of it. Using the same tools and strategy to undo the damage that's been done in our society and culture. That is how The Stereotype Project database was born. For us to hold ourselves accountable for our words and language, we needed a way to assess and identify problematic language.
What does degendering design mean to you?:For me, degendering design means broadening our perspective on each other. We have a very specific way of viewing and processing everyone we interact with on a daily basis. And the odds are, these preconceived notions and narratives we have about one another are not applicable to every single person who belongs in that “category”. If that’s the case, recalibration is necessary for us to allow each person to have their story and identity. For us to slow down and see each other in a new light.
What is one piece of advice, thought or lesson do you want people to learn from our degending design work? :For all of us to slow down. We now live and function in a world where information is being generated, processed, and shared at speeds that are far beyond what we could have imagined not too long ago. And we know more often than we would like to believe or understand, the information being accepted in our minds are not accurate/factual. If that’s the case, shouldn’t we slow down a bit and more carefully and intentionally approach one another about how we view each other? Isn’t that how we would want others to do for us when they are crafting a narrative about us? After all, all of us want to be seen and heard as we are.
Why is degendering design an important topic to discuss today? :Degendering design is an important topic to discuss today because it’s important for us as a society to fundamentally question and adjust the hardwiring that exists in all of us. Every single one of us is a byproduct and an accumulation of things that we watched, listened to, read, and put in our minds. Then the rewiring work in the way we perceive one another has to start sooner than later.