Can political/social views inhibit a design career?

I have a question that I think I already know the answer to…I guess I’m just asking it to get some feedback:

Can political views inhibit a design career?

In certain professions today, it seems nearly impossible to achieve widespread acclaim and acceptance unless one possesses or adopts a certain social philosophy or lifestyle.

Here are (in my opinion) some examples of this:

#1 - Males in the fashion industry must be gay. (I’ve read about how non-gays are discriminated against)

#2 - Higher education professors must be liberals (I think this one is pretty well accepted…I read a recent poll of university professors and about 90% said they had liberal political views)


Again, I’m talking about a general glass ceiling on the upper tier of the industries, not a complete monopoly on the professions.

Now, I’m an ID student who’s really passionate about design and it’s potential for positive impact on the world. I happen to be generally conservative (although I disagree with about half of President Bush’s policy decisions). I care about the environment and believe as designers we can have a big impact there–cradle to cradle, etc…(although I don’t believe in manmade global warming). I want to have a positive influence on the world as a designer and as a person.

My long-term career goals are to work for a design firm or design appreciative company, and maybe start my own firm one day. Deep down, I feel that politics (the how) -with regards to a design career-is less important than overall ideals (the why), personality, and skills…at least I hope so.

What are your thoughts?

Can political/social views influence a design career?

I think I can see that being the case to some extent. I would say not as much as in fashion. I think a lot of people see the ID people like karim and think we are all the eccentric, rayban wearing folks that need a cool studio to function, but really, once you start to search for jobs, I bet you’ll see that a lot of designers in this field don’t work in some downtown studio. I had an internship with a notable golf accessories company and their design department was located in the back of a factory warehouse, I think this is standard for a lot of people.

The guys there were just normal guys, who knew a lot about designing great golf bags.

I do wear raybans though. mine are blue.

Thanks for the feedback. That’s what I thought, too, I was just interested in hearing about real situations. Anyone else have something to add?

i ware generic “wayfairers” unless i got my superlight weight poker shades on…as far as politics, who cares, be yourself, be cranky, be outspoken, be honnest.

I think it can affect you, if anything it can put a strain on a group you may be in. But then again, would you want to work with people that you can’t be yourself around? You spend a lot of time with your coworkers so your personal interaction should be smooth. Sometimes that may mean keeping some things to yourself or you may be quickly outcast. You may be an outstanding toy designer but if you let everyone know that you do animal sacrifices on the weekends it may not fly to well.
So really I think it’s more of politics being able to affect your peer interaction…which can then affect your design career if that makes any sense.

Yeah, that makes sense. I’m not really as concerned about it now as I was when I made the thread. It’s totally true what you said about the work atmosphere, and I don’t think I’ll worry about that sort of thing too much until I get there. Like most job-seekers, if I research someone and it doesn’t feel like a good fit, I can probably avoid lots of issues beforehand.

Its relative to some extent. Here at core, I’m very likely on the conservative side of the spectrum, while at my previous job I was a “nut job” in terms of political views. That never stopped us from being able to get along at work or elsewhere, though sometimes you just had to bite your tongue…

Best bet is to be yourself and be easy to get along with, and don’t step on everyone’s toes with your personal opinions. It won’t matter if you have the same political views and/or lifestyle as your peers if you p!ss everyone off on a regular basis.

Find a firm that fits your personality and beliefs. There is enough of a spectrum in this field especially since we need to have creativity and implementability designed into our work. That attracts many different personality types, and political persuasions. So I think that you will probably have a better chance of finding a balanced work environment. Geography of course matters- so different parts of the country will be easier for you politically than others.

One of my managers put it in an interesting way " You will spend more hours of the day with your co-workers than your wife." Pretty disturbing at first, but would you marry anyone that you were at loggerheads at core principles? So if something was really important to you, you should not have to compromise. It would of course be challenging and a stretch to be exposed to different types of people and cultures, so there is no cut and dry answer.

I don’t think you’ll notice it as much as you might have been lead to believe…if at all. I’ve worked at big companies and small ones and I have to say, there was a healthy mix of all political views represented. Usually, we all had work to do and not much time to get into political debates.

I wouldn’t worry about it - even if you are surrounded by people who are politically opposite, you will find common ground with them on other topics and learn to avoid the politics…


“although I don’t believe in manmade global warming”

That’s not political, it’s just plain common sense, there’s facts out there that prove it.

^ Is this one of those times where I should bite my lip in a professional environment? I’m practicing in my own thread. How ironic! :slight_smile:

Listen the at least the first part of this show, Archive - This American Life

It centers on the effects of someone being a pessimist.

It is unethical (and illegal) to have something like political, sexual, age, race, creed have bias in discrimination. Of course it is going to happen everyday, so just don’t talk about it, bring it up, or ask/answer questions about personal stuff. Most things probably won’t hurt you too bad, say if you were a Mormon , no big deal as long as you keep personal agendas to yourself at work. If you were a Grand Wizard of the KKK, well then people might not like you to be around as much, but if you keep all that at home, and you are fine at work then there is no reason to fire you for it.

It is also unethical to openly air things like political, sexual, age, race, creed at the work place.