End the reign of Reference Man.

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Engineering shouldn’t be biased, but it is. We work towards more diversity in tech and engineering to create a fairer future for all.

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Reference Man

The insidious impact of "Reference Man"

There are serious imbalances in the way our society designs and makes products, and minorities and women bear the brunt of this imbalance.

Seatbelts are safer for men, and medicine is tailored to the needs of cisgender white men. Even stab vests, vital protection for police officers, protect men better than they protect women. These are just a few examples of a much bigger problem. This imbalance has been going on for decades, and is only recently being addressed.

There are serious imbalances in the way our society designs and makes products, and minoritiesThe person responsible for this is an individual called «Reference Man», and he doesn’t exist. Instead, it’s an average used by scientists and engineers for decades. «Reference Man» is a statistical shorthand, a blueprint to use when designing products, implementing safety features, researching preferences and testing innovations.

If you’re wondering about the colour of Reference Man’s skin, it’s white. He’s a caucasian man, which only intensifies the problem. People of colour and from cultures outside the Western European/American sphere are not well represented when scientists and engineers keep using Reference Man as their benchmark. Our push for a fairer future includes everybody.

Because by using this blueprint, we have ended up with a world where diseases are more easily detected in cisgender white men. Chairs are more comfortable, technology more in tune with their preferences.

And frankly, we think this needs to change.

We need more diversity in engineering. Now.

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Reference Man (20-30). A 180 centimeter tall Western European or American caucasian male weighing 73 kilos. Lives in a climate with average temperatures between 10 celcius - 20 celcius. Not in existence.

Autostorians changing the story

What can be done?

Minority engineers are not better engineers. They’re also not worse engineers. They’re just engineers!

To straighten the imbalance in the world of tech and engineering, companies have to hire minorities, give them the chance to thrive and put them in positions where they can make a difference.

At AutoStore, that’s what we do. We champion our women and minority engineers, not because they are any better than their colleagues (who are also great, by the way!), but to inspire and attract others like them. Because some minorities still feel they’re being undervalued, and that hurts us all. Unbalanced representation leads to unbalanced outcomes, and that’s how you end up with seatbelts that are safer for men.

What are we doing about it?

  • Flexible work hours. Home office up to 2 days every week.
  • Paid hours for exercise
  • Paid time for voluntary work
  • Secure channels for whistleblowing
  • Yearly workplace satisfaction surveys - speak your mind! We’re listening.

Join the cause: ENGINEERING careers

Your company can help. Hiring minorities and women as engineers and helping young people choose engineering careers – and supporting them – makes a world of difference. As of 2024, only 7% of organizations are actively building a diverse and inclusive workplace. Help improve this number.

The Ada project

We partner with ADA, an NTNU project helping more women finish their degrees and landing jobs in tech and engineering. By joining their network, you help the cause.

Learn more about the Ada project


We also partner with ODA-Network, the leading, non-profit meeting place for women in tech in the Nordics with more than 7500 members. Their mission is to increase the number of women in tech, women leaders and women business owners. Read more about how they contribute to create a better future for businesses and society.

Read more about ODA

Equality Check

Equality Check helps turn your company’s diversity and inclusion goals into tangible strategies. They promise tools to structure DEI-efforts for the long-term.

Read more
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