Welder women's room sign from a hackspace

Nick sez, "I designed and laser cut a new women's room sign for my hackerspace (CCCKC/Hammerspace). The files are up on thinigiverse if anyone wants to make their own. It took a long time to figure out something that wasn't a dress to signify that a stick figure is a women. Down pigtails seem to do the job nicely and I noticed that Jackhammer Jill has them as well."

Womens Room Sign Welder (Thanks, Nick!)


  1.  ” It took a long time to figure out something that wasn’t a dress to signify that a stick figure is a women.”

    So what signifies that a stick figure is a man?

  2. I (male) wear pigtails sometimes when it’s hot.  I’m of the opinion that dudes that wear ponytails are all tools, so pigtails it is.  the dudes from BooYaa Tribe can pull it off, so why not me, right?  well…  I’m not 300 lbs and gangster as fuck, but still, I think its cool.

    1. I think our definitions of “pulling it off” may be wildly different. Although I suppose you didn’t specify if they were pulling it off well.

      edit: I do agree that ponytails are worse ;)

    2. Ooh, I was just thinking, when reading the text, that true… I haven’t seen a man with pigtails, why is that? So major thumbs up to you! Although I would say the guys in the picture are wearing braids, hmm… the one in the upper right corner could be called pig tails. Anyway, it really does look nice!

      And I agree on the ponytails… but don’t tell anybody I said that, ok? Most of the time the ponytails look pretty unkempt, too.

      Having the pig tails to signify woman… um… uuuh… I didn’t realize from the picture what they were supposed to be until I read the text. Perhaps Pippi Longstocking type braids? Or, like somebody already suggested… a bit of waist on the figure?

  3. This is awesome. I hate that all icons of women have dresses.I wear a dress so rarely that it may as well be never, and I certainly do not identify with that image of “woman.” (I also have short hair, so this one doesn’t quite work for me either, but I like it, nevertheless.)

  4. I have to say, I didn’t read those floppy things as braids, and as others have mentioned, men wear braids, too. Since this sign isn’t used in a space where welding is going on, how about just the word “Women” using an interesting font? Sorry to rain on said parade.

      1.  Why would a smallish terrestrial planet covered in iron oxide, and a tenuous, mostly carbon dioxide atmosphere mean male?

        Why would a nearly earth-sized terrestrial planet with a surface temperature hot enough to smelt lead in, and constant, visually impenetrable cloud cover, mean female?

        When I see those signs I tend to think “fire and ice.”

          1. Of course. I was watching the Big Bang Theory while going over the comments, prompting me to give a Sheldonesque response, since I can’t seem to distinguish between what’s funny on TV and what’s unfunny in real life.

      2. I can never remember which is which. If I bother to look it up to figure it out again, the symbology makes sense, it just doesn’t stick.

        Although, just thinking about it while writing this comment makes me realize that it’s a lot more obvious than I always thought. Still, if I encountered bathrooms with just those symbols as labels (and I vaguely remember seeing one once actually), I guarantee I would second-guess myself and choose the wrong door.

          1. lol, thanks for the explanation and the diagram. I have a feeling that I won’t have trouble remembering anymore.

  5. This is well intentioned but terrible graphic design. The first rule of illustration is that if you have to explain it, it has already failed. Without the label saying ‘women’, there would be no indication as to what this actually means.

    You don’t have to have the figure in a dress, but adding the slightest hint of an hourglass figure would get infinitely more information across. Additionally, the helmet and pigtails are unreadable against the figure; they simply blend in with the silhouette.

    1. To a certain extent, the point is that to abstract-graphically distinguish men and women, you need to make use of a stereotype. Labelling it “women” might mean the graphic isn’t doing the talking, but that’s kinda the point as well as the problem.

      1. You don’t have to use a stereotype, but you need to use better visual abstractions.  I didn’t even see the ‘pigtails’ until the caption mentioned them…and then it still took me a while to figure out where they were.

        Men and women have basic physical differences…the skirt is normally used because it’s a sexless way to represent gender.  Representing secondary sex characteristics (i.e. bewbs) would do the trick, but would run into a different set of issues.  Using the greek symbols for gender would basically be tantamount to admitting that (like using the words ‘men’ and ‘women’) that your iconography doesn’t actually work.

    2. Actually I like that idea, it really makes a nice point – if you absolutely must have gendered washrooms, use exactly the same pictogram of a human, with the word ‘men’ or ‘women’ under it.

      Women don’t all wear long hair and skirts, men don’t all wear short hair and trousers…

        1. In Scotland, the profile will be the same, and you’ll have to count the pleats to tell if it’s a skirt or a filibeg.

  6. I’m a big fan of a room with a toilet and a sink in it with a sign on the door that simply implies “washroom”. That way we can avoid any gender pitfalls/assumptions/etc. Also, I love peeing and pooping all by myself!

    1. I’ve gone to places that have two single-occupant restrooms with gendered signs and wondered why, until I offered my place in line to a woman, figuring there was no difference and she turned me down with “The Ladies room is cleaner.”

      1.  I was at a festival a while ago with trucked-in plastic outhouses, in pink or grey plastic.  The ladies outhouses did indeed seem a little cleaner, but I’m not sure how much this was because women are individually cleaner, and how much because there were more ladies’ outhouses than mens’, so each ladies’ loo served fewer people.

        1. The ladies’ room is usually bigger than the men’s room, frequently has something other than a toilet to sit on and is usually cleaner.

          1. My experience with fast food would indicate otherwise.

            Apparently a “hoverer” can miss, making every woman after her have to hover, and miss, as well.

            Then there is this interesting habit of putting sanitary napkins (lol) anywhere but the trash can. Did you know, once used, the napkins can stick to a wall?

            Have a nice day! :)

          2.  Something else to sit on – swanky ones, yes. Non-swanky, hells naw. Unless we count the plastic, swing-out baby changer thing-y!

      2.  I will brave any washroom if I have to pee badly enough. I also wonder why places with two single-occupant restrooms insist on gendering them – it’s just a room! If everyone uses them, any real or imagined levels of cleanliness on anyone’s part would be averaged out between the two rooms.

        …I wasn’t really that aware I spent this much time thinking about public washrooms. Thanks Boingboing! Thanks a lot.

    2. One of my workplace had unisex restrooms, until we got a bit more ladies and one of them apparently didn’t want to share. Bummer. On the floor where I work now there is 3 single-occupant restrooms for the guys and one for the gals (we are a bit in minority)… and the gals restroom seems to always be occupied. So… hmm… I should probably start lobbying for one of the guy ones to be turned into a unisex. I really have never figured out why it matters what kind of plugs the previous occupant came with.

      I saw my first unisex restroom in a shopping centre the other day. Big washing up area, lots of separate bathrooms (not stalls, rooms with proper doors), no markings on the doors. Really nice, especially for people with not-quite-small-kids-anymore of opposite sex! I’m really hoping it will become more common!

      1. Unisex restrooms are also more welcoming to most transgender people.  You can imagine the awkwardness involved in picking the “Male” or “Female” door when your identity and appearance is a little more complicated than that.

        1.  Yes! In my town, I believe the trans* community has made a map of gender-neutral public washrooms for folks to feel more comfortable/safe. I always love a store/shop/whatever for having them.

        2. Yep, a good point. Gendering the bathrooms just complicates things unnecessary. Especially for single-occupant ones there is just no reason for it.

  7. I do not see braids but ear protectors. 

    Braids should be behind the welding mask at all times, bound up in princess Leia style. Otherwise they may catch fire, or be caught by a milling bit or gears.

    The word ‘women’ is more clear.

    I do really, really like the sign though. Sorry to spoil the party.

    1.  I agree, it’s really hard to convey gender visually in such a small space without resorting to stereotypes

      1. Really? Because a properly placed penis pretty much would do it. However it seems that male is always the default, and female must be distinguished, when really it is so much easier to distinguish a male with their dangly bits so obvious.

        1. Heh! I can just see the prudes staring… or trying not to stare… at the pictogram. But yeah, good point!

          How about a standing person doing its business if there are urinals, and a sitting one for the bathrooms without urinals? Much more informative!

      1. Isn’t a crowbar meant to deter those?

        But wait, maybe she has a crowbar AND an anti-headcrab helmet! Take note, Gordon.

  8.  It makes sense to me.  This sign indicates the restroom for hockey mask wearing ax murderers.  And women.

    1. That’s a problem I didn’t consider. The two are natural enemies at least that’s what I learned from the ’80’s.

      1. Oh, we’ve come a long way, baby! Today being a hockey mask wearing ax murderer is a totally valid occupation also for a woman!

  9. This is my project and I’m thrilled to have it shown here. I’m extra tickled pink at how nice everyone is, especially the people with criticisms. The files are up on thingiverse, the link is in the post and they are under a CC license. I would love to see some remixes! I bet some of the people with criticisms are graphic designers, fix it, post it.

  10. I don’t see this as any different than a restaurant with a theme using images, foreign words, or other elements that may not be immediately obvious for the “uninitiated.” I’ve been in a restaurant where the men’s room was indicated by having a rooster on the door, and the women’s room had a chicken. This is a semi-private space and they can use whatever creative labels they want, and if anything I like that the image is generally gender-free.

    What about the MEN though?

    1. Oh, I hate those cutsey restroom signs. Hens and roosters might be more obvious (well, assuming people know their animals), but like small siluettes of faces… wtf??? I’m on the way to the bathroom… and… um… is that supposed to indicate ladies room?… or… wait a minute… um… oh, screw it… not my fault if I enter the wrong side.

  11. There’s a late-19th c. Masonic hall in My Fair City that today functions as a concert/theater venue for medium-sized traveling acts. At the level of the third balcony, there are surviving “Gentlemen’s” and “Ladies'” lounges that have been authentically restored. In addition to the requisite plumbing for necessities, both lounges feature large anterooms with overstuffed leather-upholstered chairs and sofas, and deco-style furnishings and lighting. It’s very difficult to take a piss there without imagining the button-shoed, corset-or-sack-suit crowd retiring to their respective corners when the pressures of dealing with the opposite sex in public become too oppressive. The club-like atmosphere is a clear indicator of why USAians use the euphemism “restroom” rather then “washroom,” “loo,” or “WC.” These were clearly places to retire to, whose original function was more cultural than biological.

    OTOH, I’ve been to modern venues with two facilities labeled “Restroom” and “Restroom,” and that’s never caused me any problems.

    It’d be kind of fun to open a place with two functional facilities labeled “Restroom” and “Other restroom,” just to see who uses the “other restroom.”

  12. HacDC went through a phase where they were debating men’s and women’s restroom signs, but given that the restrooms are all single stall units there was a discussion about whether or not they needed to gender segregate the bathrooms at all.  They ultimately chose not to.  So, instead they have “Ninja” and “Pirate” restrooms, with appropriate decor for each.  


  13. The best way to distinguish bathrooms would be to have the TSA outside each bathroom. They could do all their scans and pat downs, then they would push you through the right door.

  14. I echo the many who feel that this sign does not convey a welder. I saw a member of Daft Punk with headphones around his neck brandishing a futuristic flashlight.  However, I also like the headcrab suggestion.

  15. Cool sign. Although not actually great as a sign per se; that door admits slightly surprised women and highly illiterate men.

Comments are closed.