smyoung wrote:Question: Why are there so few women working as an industrial designer? ( females make up just 20% of the field, stated in FastCo. article http://www.fastcompany.com/1353548/forg ... -unleashed) Are there any studies/surveys conducted that seek reasons as to why this is the case?
Prior to landing a full-time ID position, I did notice a off-set number between men and women in my previous internships/freelancing jobs. Didn't think much of it. During college, Femme Den from Smart Design presented at our school of successful case studies they've conducted with various companies. Again, I didn't really give it much thought then. My graduating class of '09 were a good mix of men and women... Fast forward 3.5 years, I'm already seeing about a 30% drop in number of girls working as an industrial designer within my graduating class. Many left to pursue fashion, graphic, marketing, crafts..etc.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining that women are not equally treated/paid/respected. I am really, really, discouraged that this is just the reality, and would like to get your thoughts on why this might be the case (so that I myself can better prep to possess all facet of skills in the future). I had some theories of my own,...so feel free to tag along as well.
-Lack of mechanical engineering experience or understanding
-Lack of interest in how things work, how things are manufactured
-lack of historical support of female role in ID?
-Physical strength not meeting up to men? (handling tools and machinery)
-Doesn't take design seriously enough? ( poor quality of portfolio?)
I'm also curious........
If you are a hiring manager, what kind of differences did you notice in portfolio between men and women?
What kind of characteristics/skills did women lack that were comparable to men?
Thanks in advance for your input.
And please, omit any negative comments!
Sorry I missed this earlier, but would like to comment even if I am late to the party.
Like the OP, I felt my class of fellow IDers at Pratt was a very even mix of male to female (back in 2006). Once I began working in the field however, I've only ever worked with one other female ID co-worker. I know that 6 years in the field is short but thanks to an "interesting" economic climate, I have worked in a variety of offices and industries.
The possible theories the OP suggests sounds more like possible determents to females choosing the ID profession, I would like to think that once they have completed their ID education most of these theories don't make sense as an obstacle to joining the workforce.
I cannot say I have met much adversity in the workforce being a female industrial designer, most co-workers have been nothing but happy and helpful to work with me. I really enjoyed the time I have working with another female IDer, we became good friends and keep in touch even though we are on opposite sides of the Earth now (can't say that for most of my male colleagues). I worked in lighting, medical, and footwear and felt I was treated fairly and no differently then my male colleagues.
I now work in the motorsports industry and it is very challenging, particularly as a female. I am again the one and only female designer, and not even as an Industrial designer but now as a graphic designer. I do suspect my gender played a role in which design position I was appointed to. I am not discouraged though, I have my foot in the door and will work to put myself back in the product development side of things. Perhaps this is the case with many other fellow female IDers- in order to find ourselves in the industry we want we have to take these stepping stones to leap to our desired positions.