Social Norms and Persona Design: Background Note

Understanding social norms that impact women’s ability to interact with financial services
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This paper is a supplement to the official CGAP Blog "Personas Show How Social Norms Impact Women’s Financial Inclusion" (December 2020).

This background note provides guidance for implementers and designers to apply a social norms lens onto a persona tool. It is to be used to develop a more nuanced understanding of women and the social norms that impact their ability to interact with financial services. Overlaying social norms onto personas is a unique way for implementers and designers to understand the multiple layers of women as clients and unpack the way in which social norms impact their ability to interact with financial services.

The design process in this study is broken into two phases. The first phase launches a social norms diagnostic or gender assessment that can capture data on women as clients and what norms impact their financial lives and how. The second phase is the Persona design process. Data from the social norm diagnostic or gender assessment, is grouped based on key attributes and coupled with an exploration of the role influencers play in supporting or inhibiting the persona’s access and usage of services. Social norms are then mapped accordingly to their strength, prevalence, adherence, and potential consequences of adhering or breaking the norm as it relates to the persona. Woven through these steps are questions that assist designers to unpack how identified norms impact and shape differing personas. 

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This work was funded in whole or in part by CGAP. Unlike CGAP's official publications, it has not been peer reviewed or edited by CGAP, and any conclusions or viewpoints expressed are those of the authors, and they may or may not reflect the views of CGAP staff.

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By Nicki Post