Why is I.D. such a boys club?

I’m sure all of us who were in an I.D. program realized the first day it was 95% guys, and reading these forums I would say it’s the same thing. Why do you think that is? Is there something about the word “Industrial” that turns girls off from joining? In my office we have a lot of female product designers but I am also more on the fashion/accessories side of things. I guess its the same thing as 95% of the interior design majors were female.

In school there were actually a lot of females in the ID program probably around 40% of my graduating class was female.

ID is mostly a boys club though. The majority of the girls I graduated with wound up going either into a related field or dropping ID entirely. I think ID is very competitive by nature and many women don’t have the same competitive drive that a lot of men do.

As far as the forums go though I think that has more to do with the fact that men just spend more time on the internets.

Do you actually have a legitimate source on that? Because my observation would be the opposite.

I think this also may be a case of perpetual perception. Women initially interested in the field see that it’s largely men and get turned off/ discouraged and figure that women won’t do well in the field. As someone already mentioned, why is it that the majority of interior design students are female?

In our school, the students in each major were referred to almost unanimously as the ID guys or the Interior/ Advertising design girls. It was never just “the students at ID” or “the students at Interior Design” when referring to one another.

well, i’ll avoid sweeping statements “men are like this…”, “women are like that…” and will say that even though more and more women are graduating from ID programs, i doubt the gender make-up of the field will be 50/50. i think parallels could be drawn to a bit more researched subject of women in architecture: why women drop out of the field or grossly underrepresented in senior roles when they succeed academically and over 40% of architecture program graduates are women. same reasons apply to what’s happening in ID.

The case is being made that it’s evolutionary-psychology.

Apparently, when given a choice and without social pressure, little girls tend to gravitate to dolls and boys gravitate to toy trucks. I suppose you can trace this to thousands of generations of men fashioning hunting tools while women cared for offspring.

Another article from Psychology Today removes “gender socialization” from the equation by achieving the same results with monkeys.

In our office of about 50 designers at Converse I’d say we have more than 50% women, though many have a GD, Fashion, or Illustration degree. At Nike were it is more typical for a designer to have an ID background, I’d say it is just under 50% but still a very meaningful number. As you get to the younger designers, I’d say the ratio flips to more females.

Personally, I just want the most skilled team I can get, and right now my entire team is female (except me before someone posts a sarcastic reply). I think the boys club perception is starting to break up, and it would be great to get a female designer in the “Rock Star” class to be a role model or at least a beacon…

Zaha Hadid, Verena Kloos (BMW), and Ann Asensio(Renault/GM/Dassault) immediately come to mind. Plus the two designers who designed the new z4 were both females.

I knew someone would bring up Zaha… I’ll pass on that just on the basis she’s an architect, lets not bring up Michael Graves on the other side of the gender argument, but there is a point in the fact that you don’t know the name of the two designers who did the z4 so I’d take them out of “Rock Star” class. I also knew it was designed by women, just didn’t know who they were. I’m talking Stark, Rashid, Newson, Morrison, Lovegrove, Ive, Mays, Bangle, level… Ray Eames maybe, though trained in GD (of course Charles was trained as an architect, and never graduated, but that was also the time)?

The way Orla Kiely is a rock star in surface design.

Something of note, in couture fashion, the field seems pretty evenly split, as well as chefs, and even GD.

You don’t see women geeking out on gadgets, cars, electronic i-whatzits, big noisy production processes, sneakers, and toy robots, do you? Nature/Nurture aside, its a little more rare to find the above geekology, plus sketching skills, plus a desire to hang out with engineers and make jokes about powder sintering, in members of the fairer s3x.

Interaction design seems 50/50, GD 60/40, Industrial is like 10/90.

Thank you for this well put together.

Doesn’t engineering have a similar ratio? Both ID and engineering are very technical fields. Maybe thats part of the reason why there aren’t as many female industrial designers.

Statistics of women in business/industry in the US by professional title

About 35% of the scientists & engineers employed in the US are women. I’m not sure how much ID is included under that, but it might account for some of the discrepancy.

(Sidebar: Less than 10% of engineering managers are women. :open_mouth: )


Actually, I do know their names, but only because I follow this stuff so closely. I can’t think of any women who have the same level of recognition as the names you mentioned though. Especially to the design outsider. Names like Stark, Newson, Ive, Bangle will at least ring a bell in the general public if they don’t know their work.

I only brought up the names I did because they are examples of females in upper management of design, z4 designers excluded.

Personally I’d love to see a woman in the position of an Ive, Starck, Bangle, et. al. (which is what Yo was originally trying to say, I believe) And there’s really no reason there couldn’t be one (or 10 for that matter).

95% women ! Dammit i should have done interior design !!! hahaha

at my uni they say its 60/40 boys to girls

Is ‘geekology’ a requirement of a good industrial designer. Actually I know plenty of ‘geeky’ female ID designers and I think that more of them lurk on this board than most people realise - do you know the gender of every single poster? On my university course it was pretty much 50/50 split and I would say that an even number of each s3x has gone into ID or a similar splinter field.

I think that the idea of ID as a boys club is outdated and, though it still exists in certain places, the majority of employers do not care if they employ a male or a female, as long as they get the best person for the job.

For the record, I am one of those ‘geeky’ females :wink:

Girls don’t have god complexes.

No, but its a strong characteristic that designers tend to share. My point is that the gadget-geek females in ID will be a smaller subset of all employable women, than in interior or surface-pattern design for example. I know a few and they seem to share the gadget-and-materials-lust, which I think is awesome, but a little more rare to find in women.

We try to hire more female designers, to get well-balanced critiques and to be able to test equipment first-hand so we can say “its been tested by women in the 115lbs, 5’2” range". There aren’t many qualified and hireable female designers out there, which brings us back to the OP.

I’ve been out of school (in the USA) for ten years so its probable that the demographics have changed, and also probable that the ratios differ with regards to country.

Girls don’t have god complexes.

gotta say, this makes me smile and nod!

in my experience, ID is always an uphill battle for women. in any collaborative setting with lots of criticism flying around (a necessary part of the process) women are still more likely to take the criticism personally OR be seen as a *itch. I’ve been one of the boys throughout my career and have been branded a *itch by certain male coworkers, when the things men say to each other is well beyond what a woman would say. it’s a tough atmosphere.

that said, i could care less if the men get intimidated. i just kick their a**es anyway.

girls, there’s a lot of problem solving out there well suited to women & mixed gender teams, but you have to have tough skin and endless desire for the fight. my only regret right now is that in my management positions i’ve had little opportunity to promote other women in the field. still, i try to lead by example and teach what i know to all of the promising young designers i work with regardless of gender.

The majority of people in my class are male, although there are a few young ladies there as well. The experience of being in that sort of group has built the girls’ character a lot, and to an impressive extent.

So therefore, I would highly recommend to girls who are interested in techy side of things to study ID or science or engineering for that matter.