UX Design Curriculum: Intersectionality, Race, and Ethnicity in Persona Construction


In UX Design, personas function as representations of typical users showing empathy for their unique needs while maintaining focus on a product. Personas help designers and engineering teams find a balance between user values, constraints, and limitations. Students and practitioners who lack a background in intersectionality will, by nature, demonstrate a limited understanding of the role of race and ethnicity in the persona creation process. In fact, previous research shows that UX designers create personas closely related to themselves, rather than focusing on the needs of the user, especially when it comes to race and ethnicity. Race and racism have played a role in UX design, so there must be a move toward educating design students and professionals on the impact of race and ethnicity when creating personas. This research paper proposes to extend previously constructed teaching modules, focused on gender and Human-Computer Interaction, to extrapolate a more nuanced intersectional lens emphasizing the importance of race and ethnicity in persona creation. Students are introduced to theories of intersectionality, specifically regarding race and ethnicity, through various readings. Students apply what they learn by practicing, evaluating, and applying theories of intersectionality through group projects and case studies covering various topics such as consumerism, body, and medicine. Group interaction allows them to share their ideas and echoes the real-world scenario of UX Design practitioners and might ensure the creation of less racist products. Having educational modules on intersectionality and race and ethnicity is needed if we want UX designers to create inclusive technology.


Guy Serge Emmanuel
Student, PhD in Human-Computer Interaction, Iowa State University, Iowa, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design Education


Intersectionality, Race and Ethnicity, Persona, UX Design Education

Digital Media


UX Design Curriculum (pdf)