The messages in the Bangalore metro urging people to give up their seats to those who need them more are an excellent example of a nudge adopted to mould the behaviour of commuters. They are also a cautionary tale on the need for nudges to have the right messaging.
This is what the infographic says:
Please give up these seats for persons with disabilities, the elderly, women with children or pregnant women.
There does not seem to be much wrong with this at first glance. But a closer look reveals something disquieting:
Please give up these seats for persons with disabilities, the elderly, women with children or pregnant women. [emphasis supplied]
Why did it have to say women with children? Does this not act as a subtle propagation of existing gender roles for child rearing? This unfortunate state of things could have been easily avoided by the use of a gender-neutral expression, say, persons with children. What is infuriating is that a similar expression is, in fact, used earlier when a reference is made to individuals with disabilities. That this was not done for the other part of the message shows just how entrenched societal norms are when it comes to child rearing and the scale of the task before us to effect a change in them.