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Are there any geographies where pedestrian crossing signs indicate that it is ok for females to cross the street independently?

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  • I’m voting to close this question because this is not a User Experience problem in need of a solution.
    – JonW
    Sep 25, 2023 at 15:15

2 Answers 2

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The Swedish Transport Agency allows two variants, one with pants and short hair and one with a skirt and long hair.

Swedish road sign for pedestrian crossingSwedish road sign for pedestrian crossing, alternate design

Both variants are used and there is no distinction in meaning. While none of them is identical to the designs I could see in the Vienna convention documents (none of them is wearing a hat), I would say they are both unmistakable.

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No

Countries that have signed the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals use the same, or similar, set of pictograms to ensure easy recognition. You can refer to the manuals here.

Even those that haven't signed the treaty, such as the Southern African Development Community, adopt the same conventions with minor variations. The manuals for SADC-RTSM can be found here.

Furthermore, some nations that did not join the treaty adhere to the US-based MUTCD system. Introduced in 1935, the MUTCD system has influenced many Vienna Convention signs, ensuring a level of uniformity worldwide.

However, regardless of the similarities or differences between these systems, none incorporate gender variations.

This is logical: a figure representing a "man" is only discerned as such if there's a corresponding "woman" figure. Without this distinction, the figure could represent any gender. Introducing additional cues, like a "dress" to indicate a "woman", would only impose unnecessary cognitive load, complicating matters rather than clarifying.

It's worth noting that I use quotes to emphasize that these symbols aren't literal but are understood through societal symbolism. In the real world, what we perceive as a dress might not be just that. Men might wear dresses, women might choose not to, and someone depicted in a "dress" might not identify with any specific gender. Such complexities of representation are highlighted in semiotics through concepts like the Triangle of Reference or Ogden's Semiotic Triangle.

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