Gender Disparities in the Design Field

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Walk into any design classroom, at any college in America, and you’ll see a comfortable mix of male and female students. Turn your attention to the front of the classroom, or down the hall to the faculty and staff offices, and that wonderful gender balance starts to skew. Travel outside the campus, and there’s really no balance at all.

But why? If there are design classrooms across the country with a 50/50 blend of men and women — and in many classrooms, there are more females than males — then why doesn’t the design field represent the same ratio? Why does creative employment still showcase a male-dominated presence? What happens to these passionate and educated females? Certainly, there must be more to it than child-bearing — or is there? Is a more gender-balanced field really all that important? Why, or why not?

Mixed Media Printing
Gender disparities in the design field is a controversial as well as a complex topic. Image credit: Choichun Leung

These questions and many others accompanied me to a design and technology conference this past fall. Minnebar, an annual Twin Cities conference that celebrates vision, niche technology and collective wisdom, provided the perfect platform for such inquiries. I hosted a session aptly named “The Equal Sign” to pitch the dilemma of the field not representing the classroom. I played the role of discussion facilitator, and was eager to see where the conversation would go. What I hadn’t realized, was that I wasn’t the only one perplexed by this phenomenon.

First, the Stats

According to Findings From A List Apart Survey 2009, a poll created by and for Web designers, 82.6% of Web designers are male. Ironically, 66.5% of the same respondents stated there is “definitely not” a gender bias in the design field. Web design is just one segment of the design world, but the statistic is nonetheless chilling.

My audience for the session? Predominantly female. It seems the topic itself is more intriguing for women than men. What these women had to say was sobering. One mentioned that it’s foolish to expect a male-dominated field to be able to design interfaces that appeal to how women want to interact with technology. In other words, young girls put off as consumers of technology aren’t likely to desire to create in that arena.

Another common theme during the discussion was that of heroes. So few female designers exist, and of them, few are known superstars in the industry. Of these, even less are known by individuals outside of the industry. Lack of visible female heroes results in lack of female interest. But there are countless male role models in the field; why can’t they be heroes for young girls with computers? The same reason why I’d rather aspire to be Run DMC, than Mariah Carey.

Second, the Perceptions

In the book Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing, two researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that “research shows that both males and females believe that males are better than females at computing” (Clarke, 1992; Spertus, 1991). This finding is nearly 20 years old, but this mindset could easily have been held by the parents of today’s college students. Going to college can be hard, but pursuing a degree with little support from mom and dad makes it even harder.

There is also an unspoken expectation that women are very creative and make great print designers, but aren’t wired to splice the intricacies of new and constantly changing software and platforms — as noted in a Fadtastic.net article written by designer Matt Davies. The field generally represents the occurrence of women holding positions in print, illustration and photography, with noticeable scarcity in more technology-dependent roles such as Web design, animation, game design and programming.


Google used to return the correction “Did You Mean: He Invented” for the search “she invented”. It generated a lot of buzz throughout the Web.

Third, the Conditioning

Conditioning is perhaps the most obvious and potentially controversial (but definitely the most changing) of all the reasons why there aren’t more women designers. Video games and scrapbooks are cliché, but a telling, cultural phenomena. Traditionally, young boys have been fascinated with video games. The constant newness of the technological capacities; the integration with other male stigmas, such as television and computers; and certainly the intense competitive nature of the games, whether against a friend or the software itself, have all catered to masculine characteristics.

Scrapbooking, on the other hand — often a self-involved, self-rewarding, aesthetic, process-oriented affair — has appealed to feminine sensibilities. Great; but what do video games and scrapbooking have to do with gender gaps in creative fields?

Everything. And, it’s changing. In the Newsweek article “’Where’s My Crazy Hot Guy?’ A Female Designer On Women and Videogames,” award-winning female game designer Brenda Brathwaite confessed, “There was a time literally, within this decade, when I knew every single female game designer out there. Personally….” Video games, or more specifically, the video game format, have found their way into almost every media component of our lives.

Log in to Facebook, and in no time you’ll end up fielding requests from friends to play “Farmville.” Shop your favorite store online, and you may be prompted to click a link and dress a sophisticated cartoon character to help you with your purchasing decisions. Save some time at the grocery store by going through the self-checkout line, and you’re confronted with the all too familiar series of buttons, colors and graphics to ease your way through the credit card swipe and out the door.

Video gaming isn’t just something engaged in by teenage football players. It’s a format that is relevant to men and women, boys and girls, and this inclusion of the female population is invariably causing more females to ask themselves how it all works, and how they can be a contributing factor.

Fourth, the Status Quo

All things design — video games, Web design and graphic arts — can bring two genders together and create acceptance and encouragement, which fosters the potential to level the creative employment playing field. You must ask yourself, “Is this a good thing?” There are numerous reasons why more women are needed, and need representation; but is the “female designer dilemma” really all that bad? If a city of people stormed the doors of their school district demanding more male kindergarten teachers, they might be mercilessly scoffed at.

Similarly, few are tooting the horn for more female firefighters, or male nurses. Our culture has built functioning gender-based roles, and has birthed young boys and girls excited to fill them. Why fix it if it ain’t broke? If gender balance is achieved in the creative industry, will it be adding new jobs for females, or replacing jobs that males had? If the latter is the case, what will happen to these men? My audience at Minnebar had blank faces, and empty responses, when I asked them.

All of this matters for one reason: I don’t want to face my female students every day with the thought that more than half of them won’t ever be designers, and of the few that do, what exactly do they have to look forward to? They will have to deal with their peers, employers, clients and families being both impressed and confused when their sisters, friends and coworkers create designs that aren’t “girly” and “cute.”

Lisa Firke, a woman embodying that rare combination of female and Web designer, commented on Zeldman.com: “I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that 90% of my clients are women. Perhaps taking women seriously as designers goes hand-in-hand with taking women seriously as Web consumers.”

Sources

Fisher, A. and Margolis, J. (2002). Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing. Cambridge, MA. MIT Press.

Editor’s Note

This post is an article from our series of “opinion columns,” in which we give people in the Web design community a platform to raise their voices and present their opinion on something they feel strongly about to the community. Please note that the content in this series is not in any way influenced by the Smashing Magazine’s Editorial team. If you want to publish your article in this series, please send us your thoughts and we’ll get back to you.

— Vitaly Friedman, Editor in Chief of Smashing Magazine

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John Mindiola III is a full-time faculty member of the School of Technology and Design at Rasmussen College in Brooklyn Park, MN. In this role, he teaches courses for students seeking degrees in Digital Design and Animation and Web Design specializations. John has a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Wisconsin–Stout. John is an AIGA.

  1. 1

    Interesting article. As a woman, and a freelance programmer, I primarily work with men throughout the day; yet I’d never even thought of the disparity. I’ve done numerous “career day” presentations at an elementary school level and can say that the children who show the most interest are definitely girls. I wonder if the same statistics will hold true in ten to fifteen years?

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    • 2

      I notice the disparity, but I’m used to it. I’m always a part of some kind of male-dominated environment. The only women that are usually at the places I’ve worked were designers or secretarial type employees. The majority of people I knew while in school in the same program ended up drifting into another branch of the field instead of becoming actual programmers. They ended up designers or in motion or something else in the interactive field, but not in the development realm.

      2
  2. 3

    This is why my company employs women almost exclusively. We purposely target clients who have mainly female target audiences for their brands, websites, marketing, etc and we are BETTER at understanding how to create for those audiences.

    That’s not to say that we haven’t or can’t design for male or mixed audiences, but that when it comes to the very biased world of design, we have a hand up in a lot of ways.

    And I agree with you Fipp…women have to be willing to show that they can do it, take their talent and run with it. (not to mention work with other women, not against them, as tends to happen in the workplace). We can do it and we will :D

    -36
    • 4

      Not knocking you but its funny that if I said the same thing in male terms – I have a mainly male company in order to target male brands, audiences etc because we are better at understanding those audiences – I would probably get my ass served to me.

      That being said, you can argue that the same case applies to this article – serving a predominantly male audience in gaming… which is the stereotype the whole article is about.

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    • 5

      If you only employ women because you feel that they better understand women as an audience and therefore are better designers for your client, I guess that is acceptable.

      I agree with Rob though that you cannot fight sexisms with more sexism.

      4
    • 6

      lets face it you are discriminating against male workers, your company will never be as good as it should be because of it. And to say that male designers cant design for the female audience is total ignorant of you to say.

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    • 7

      i like your comment and i would like to know more about your views on the topic. I am in the process of creating a space for women and i would like to know more. If you want to share.

      0
  3. 8

    Renata Hernández

    November 12, 2010 5:48 am

    I’m a female web designer aspiring to become a webmistress :)

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  4. 9

    Probably a lot of women have babies and then become full time mothers.

    -80
    • 10

      This was already acknowledged in the second paragraph of the article. The author felt though that this alone was an insufficient explanation.

      Hence this exploration of other possibilities and contributing factors.

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      • 11

        Its a huge factor though and thats not sexist. They haven’t necessarily mean they have abandoned their career, but modified it. I’ve known a LOT of design moms that went freelance/work-from-home. Other careers require you to choose, but design can be a perfect at-home career given the opportunity.

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    • 12

      Not to argue the amount of thumbs down, but statistically, in the workplace (in America), this is true. Sure, they then go “freelance” but I was always relieved I could go to the office and have those little moments to myself and a hand free while my wife had her hands elbow deep in diapers and baby spit up. Hats off to the men and women who stay home with the kids!

      0
  5. 13

    Interesting round up of the information but, as a woman in web development, I’m getting tired of these sorts of articles written by men about how more women should be in this sector.

    Every article is like a finger pointed at me and how I’m so different to be working in IT. Work is work whether it’s completed by a female or male.

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    • 14

      Exactly!

      Women are capable of doing any job, if they don’t do a job it is because they don’t desire to do so. Trying to make women and men evenly placed in every possible job is not going to ever happen.

      If you are going to take this path, then men are under-represented as nurses, baby sitters, and a myriad of other jobs that in society seem to be female centric.

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    • 15

      WE ARE HERE , WE ARE A LOT AND WE GONNA STAY ! :)

      I complete agree with Emma. I’m so tired of this articles… and i found interesting that 90% of those articles are written by mens…in my opinion this kind of articles only gives enfase to the sexisme in work. Why see employers like “mens” and “womens” and not “employers” only? Why, instead of publicate interesting work of womens, the mens insiste in write about “how this is a work of mens”.
      I think that no women is cared about work with more mens that womens if mens don’t have the atitude “oh you are diferent from us”
      Currently, i make a stage in France in the field of UI Design. In the design company here i work there is much more females that mens working in the jobs of project management, interaction design and information architecture.

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    • 16

      Renata Hernández

      November 12, 2010 7:48 am

      I just loved they way you put it. I agree with you. It’s totally true and unsexist.

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    • 17

      Agree with you 100%, why not write an article on how there is not an equal mix of people with blue and brown eyes in web design, and what can be done about it? As long as everyone feels free to pursue their own career without prejudice, then i see no point at all in highlighting the distinction between men and women.

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    • 18

      For every woman like us that stayed in the field, there are countless more that didn’t because they got discouraged by the disparity or the fact that they weren’t taken seriously. I don’t see why it’s a problem to examine that issue. I see it as incentive to inspire more women.

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  6. 19

    It’s an awesome article to read about this well known fact .We, people perticularly male designers always wants a series of creative flow from both the genders in the society
    But I think not only us,the female designers also need to step forward with a movement in their mind,not to kill their passion after completing a web/graphic designing course in some reputed institution. I personally feel there is a vast chance of girls getting huge success in this web design field but still after giving so much motivational push i saw some of my girl friends used to get married after completing the course,as if they just doing that design course for getting a precious welcome in their in-laws house.I hope very soon girls will overcome this difficulty and will surely come and work beside our male designers..

    -11
    • 20

      Ask yourself why some women think they’re meant to be mothers and men are meant to support them and why some men think so as well. Ask yourself why so few men take time off work to raise their children but expect women to do so. Ask yourself what society’s doing to contribute to maintain such gender-assigned roles.

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      • 21

        Are you suggesting that there are no gender assigned roles for men in society? Look at the flip side of the coin for a second. What does society typically say about a man who decides to be a stay-at-home dad?

        I’ll tell you what they say: “He’s lazy. He can’t provide for his family. He’s not a REAL man.”

        The reality is that it is not some societal “expectation” of women take time off from work. I would argue that in Western culture in particular women have more freedom to work or stay at home than men do.

        The odd reality is that, an overwhelming number of women, once they become mothers, also birth a strong desire to nurture and raise their children. That is not my opinion, that is a well researched, study based phenomena.

        As much as we would like to explain everything away as some type of oppression, the truth itself is often less controversial, and much more obvious than we’d care to admit.

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          I’m not suggesting that in the least. It goes both ways. That’s why I said ‘some men think so as well’ but I should have made that clearer. There was and still is a bias against men in some professions as well. However, I don’t think one can compare the general bias against women to the general bias against men (in terms of equal employment opportunity, wage disparity, …).

          You can’t say it’s easy for women to take time off work to raise their children and hard for men both for practical reasons and because of the possible social repercussions and, at the same time, say that women aren’t expected to take some time off by society. Don’t you see the correlation? If one of the parents take some time off and the parents are a man and a woman then who’s expected to do so? Because laws make it easier, bosses make it easier, it’s a lower income loss or whatever other reason.

          Not going to comment on the ‘strong desire to nurture and raise their children’ bit because this is not the place for a debate about the so-called maternal instinct…

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          • 23

            “Don’t you see the correlation? If one of the parents take some time off and the parents are a man and a woman then who’s expected to do so? Because laws make it easier, bosses make it easier, it’s a lower income loss or whatever other reason.”

            Wait, let me get this straight. Due to the FMLA women can take off up to three months from work to be with their babies, they do this WITH pay for three months, and can take an additional three months off without pay, and have their old job back, or one with the same salary, and this is somehow discrimination?

            What is it called when a woman takes the entire half-year off, and then decides not to return? Which is what happens in a majority of maternity leave situations.

            There is NO LAW that says women have to go back to work, or stay at home. Societal expectations are NOT laws, and you can shirk them at anytime, and usually have the law on your side if you so choose.

            “Not going to comment on the ‘strong desire to nurture and raise their children’ bit because this is not the place for a debate about the so-called maternal instinct…”

            I think it is the perfect place to bring it up, because in that label “so-called maternal instinct?”, we very clearly we see that you are bigoted towards women who choose motherhood over their careers, as though that somehow is a step backwards for women everywhere.

            As for wage disparity. Do some research on how they come up with those figures. I think you’ll be surprised to find out just how ridiculous those numbers are. Maybe this isn’t the place to debate wage disparity either.

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      • 24

        “Gender assigned roles”? a lot of it comes down to biology, like it or not, men and women are not the same.

        -4
        • 25

          Design is not a biologically-assigned skill. If skills that needed to be learned – like cooking, design, architecture, etc. were biologically based then there would be no male chefs, no female designers, no female architects. We used to use this argument of biological differences for why women couldn’t become chemists, airplane pilots, doctors – all of which they can and have done successfully.

          A lot of what we think of as “biological differences” are actually cultural expectations and ideas about gender deeply embedded in the culture. Go shopping for a child’s toy and ask yourself if the toy manufacturers really need to gender toys so aggressively. Yes, girls usually like playing with dolls and part of that is probably biologically based. But do all the dolls need to be pink? Does everything toy-related and specifically marketed towards girls have to be pink and sparkly? Since pink used to be the colour for boy children in Victorian times, I think it’s safe to say that those sorts of things are purely cultural and foisted upon girls from an early age by parents, marketing, the general culture.

          The science of what is biologically determined is still emerging, still being studied and added to – most of what are our general assumptions about gender are simply lazy cultural constructions, “recieved wisdom” or stereotypes. I know this because I can and have done web design but in my current company all the women were cordoned off into print. It has everything to do with our department’s ideas of “what women are good at” – and it’s an antiquated, patronizing view that limits our career options.

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          • 26

            Men don’t give birth, thats the female’s job is suppose. Nobody minds female taking maternity leaves if only they return after that.

            -8
        • 27

          “Design is not a biologically-assigned skill.”

          No its not.. But every learned skill is made up of smaller biologically ingrained skills. Not everyone of us can be pavarotti, no matter how much training we got. Not all of us can be quantum physicists, no matter what training we got.

          The basic scientific fact is that men and women are different and have different specializations. Our brains are a different size, shape and even have different regions with different colors and functions.

          On top of that, men and women have different biological tendencies and preferences on what to value. Different careers satisfy different needs.

          -7
          • 28

            Gender differences overblown in studies

            Not only are a lot of gender studies using very small groups of people in their studies, the physical information is often interpreted to mean something that we cannot scientifically assert it actually means. Our understanding of the brain is not as complete as we think – a lot of aspects of neurology are still unknown or only partially known. You have to be careful about science research in the news – I recommend Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science book as a starting point for how to tell if a scientific study should be considered valid science or not. Journalists often report scientific studies in very simplistic, often misleading ways – never mentioning how many people were in the study, what the control was, whether the data was interpreted, whether the study has stood up to rigorous peer review, etc. A healthy dose of skepticism is required, especially when people claim to know what parts of the brain definitively cause what personality traits. Race and gender studies should be looked at especially carefully using scientific rigor – sometimes there is an agenda behind what the study is trying to prove that can lead to blanket statements that are proven later to be simply not true.

            large study shows genders about equal in math ability – but the article mentions the consistent stereotypes presented to girls as they grow up that they aren’t good in math. Some people – males and females – hear something for long enough they simply absorb it and believe it. Like that women and men are incapable of having any crossover in their interests, skills or talents. By the way, in Japan there is a cultural stereotype that woman are good at math and men aren’t – “everyone knows that.” Math teachers tell boys to get their older sisters to help them. Setting up a cultural expectation might have something to do with beliefs and choices. All I ask is that you expore these ideas instead of assuming your knowledge of neurobiology gives you a complete and accurate picture.

            12
  7. 29

    thank you for this article!
    my comment is from a european perspective, maybe that’s a totally different aspect, but i doubt it.
    i agree with lot of points here, but would argue that it is not only a gender disparity, as you go with the timeline.
    my years as a student were also very pleasantly mixed, but many colleagues got stuck in jobs that do not have anything or little to do with their qualification, REGARDLESS whether girl or a boy.

    it is a hard game of enetring into business, and finding clients especially when you’re just out of the alma mater coziness of an art college.

    many times , the clients are not found easily, or one is just overwhelmed with a task, and the money needs to be earned, so many turn fast to a job , which after a while is quite a dangerzone for getting back into track, especially in a technologyheavy environment changing every year – i would get depressed, if i had the feeling i got stuck with an ages old photoshop version on a PC, while others trotted to classes already with their powerbooks in the rucksack.

    but of course, even within college, the profesors were sometimes making sexist jokes or openly show off their preference for male students – especially when it came to technology ( 3d rendering techniques, work with cameras, et sim).
    if there were a question about a software, or if some production step did not go well, very fast the colleagues and professors alike would come to the conclusion,” ’cause she’s a girl”.
    the student years – and soon afterwards – are the productive years of life – of course a lot of us have a child.
    which depends a lot of the country you live in – i write from germany , and its a desaster with child daycare… try and concentrate on a CSS sheet or on javascript acting awkward, when a baby is constantly climbing chairs, putting fingers in all kinds of electrical devices, or is simply fascinated by the clicking sound of a keyboard – and wants to try !
    and there is still a vast public opinion ( and i am sure a lot of men will agree on this one) – when you say “i am a designer” – the picture of nice colours and pretty pictures is the first thing people would associate with your work ( “all you artsy people” et sim)
    recently , a client was moaning about a flyer he had to produce, and the printshop complained because he “layouted” it in “Word” ( … ).
    i was working on his website, and told him i could compose a new one in 15 minutes. he (utterly surprised):”can you do that?! you can layout?”
    i am sure , my male colleagues had such moments as well.
    now that PLUS being a girl, and try even having long hair to go with it – you have to have an extra elbow packed in your bag!

    i think a combination of many of these factors, plus men being definitely more perceived as tech savvy and presenting them that way, is a big chunk to chew on, but still, look how many techie books are written by women. look how many of the “women in tech to watch” lists there are – and even a popular crime scene show casts a woman that can hack even into pentagon… so i would worry too much about the gap getting bigger. au contraire

    7
  8. 30

    You forget the part where women, like many other human beings, would like to work in environments where they feel welcome, treated as equals, paid the same wage for the same work, and not have to prove themselves to anybody by working harder just because they have different genitals, don’t have to deal with sexism and/or harassment… If you’re really interested in the subject you’ll read the many, many articles written by women (and men) on the subject. You can start with geekfeminism.org.

    [Not saying this happens everywhere, of course, but it does happen and one might want to wonder what image the techy/design/... sector gives as opposed to other work sectors.]

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      Definitely. What was that saying, “work twice as hard for half the pay”? I find myself constantly working to prove myself as “devoted” to my job or as tech-savvy as my coworkers, and my coworkers are a smart, if-not-feminist-at-least-not-not-feminist bunch of guys.

      The worst is the bemused, surprised reaction I get when I get an especially nice piece of jquery working – “Oh, you know jquery? I thought you just handled the CSS”.

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    • 33

      Amen!
      When I first experienced the preconcieved notions of women simply not being as good as men in design I was shocked. Because I had worked at places before where it simply wasn’t an issue – everyone, male and female, was a geek and “one of the guys”. I felt like I had stepped back in time. Just replace the words “woman” or “female” with “black” or “asian” and it becomes more apparent that it’s a pointless prejudice and not something based on “reality” or “biological science”. Now imagine you are black and you work somewhere where everyone subtly lets you know that they feel black people aren’t really capable. Somehow, though, when it’s an issue of gender, peope feel entitled to this view and don’t see it as simple prejudice.

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  9. 34

    I’m a female web designer/front-end dev and didn’t realize there were so few of us!!!

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    • 35

      Me either. I thought about it though and really thought it would be nice to have another female friend who was a designer.

      I’ve never really felt pushed out of a position because of my gender. I’ve never felt that I was discouraged to do what I do either.

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    • 36

      Wow. Are you seriously suggesting to become “equal” or get into this business is to stoop to a lower level of manipulation? Maybe it’s just me, but I wasn’t hired because I look good or have long hair or could manipulate men to my advantage. I have tattoos, piercings, and a blond mohawk and can probably sport a suit better than any of the men in this office so I’m pretty sure that was the last thing on anyone’s mind when I was being interviewed–not to mention I’m black. Unless they were trying to fulfill their minority quota all in 1 swoop, I don’t find this to be true at all. If anything, that could have been ample reasons for them to have turned me down for the position.

      I’d like to be believe that I was hired because I have talent, confidence, and have been blessed to stay on board because I get my sh!t done and continue to research, learn, and contribute positively to the agency. Women don’t need to manipulate men to work themselves into this industry and I don’t know why anyone would think that is okay or even want to work in an environment where they had to pose as some sex pot just to get the position. This is web development, not Hollywood!

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    • 37

      Oh I realized it ! I’m one of the oldtimers, I had such high hopes for tech’s potential to be a level field… but I was naive.

      Kudos on the earlier comments Jamie and Nicole.

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  10. 38

    I think the issue is, what happens when young female design graduates look for jobs as web designers? Do they get hired at the same ratio, assuming qualifications? Or is every job they interview for mysteriously ‘filled’?

    Then, what happens when they make a mistake? Is it a natural part of the young designer’s learning process or prima facie evidence that the poor girl just can’t cut it?

    Guys make mistakes too. But those get written off as working too hard or going too fast. Not indictments of half the sky.

    But do any of us wonder what would happen if I tried to get hired in many web agencies? I’m not only female – I’m 50 years old!

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    • 39

      Mary brings up another issue which no one seems to address in these articles. I think a bigger problem in this field is ageism. If you are female and over 45, you have a double wammy against you.

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    • 40

      I know that in some places I worked there really was no thought to what gender the applicant was. It was all about the work quality and can we get along with this person. In other places I’ve worked there simply will never be a woman hired to do anything remotely tech-related in web. They never make it to the interview stage. This type of prejudice is insidious and subtle but has a profound effect on an organisation’s make up and general culture.

      It’s better to go for the places to work where gender isn’t an issue. But part of me really hopes there are some go-getting women who force their way into those other companies and maybe even change some antiquated attitudes (but I’m not holding my breath).

      1
  11. 41

    Sorry if this comes out wrong
    but as a guy, why do I care?

    Obviously if women wanted to be designers, they can be. There is nothing stopping them from being designers and developers. If they are under represented, then there is a reason for this, less women than men want to be web designers / developers.

    “One mentioned that it’s foolish to expect a male-dominated field to be able to design interfaces that appeal to how women want to interact with technology.”

    What, do they want more pink buttons? If you are going to say there is a problem with the interface and delicate females can’t comprehend how to use it, then tell me and I will make it more girly accessible.

    “Going to college can be hard, but pursuing a degree with little support from mom and dad makes it even harder.”

    I did not have support from mommy or daddy either. I made it through, but I guess that is because of all of the connections that being a “man” provides me. All the support I get from my fellow man for being a designer?… oh wait the support that also includes the constant teasing that I must be gay because I am a designer. I gotcha, you are right women have it so hard.

    Seriously who out there doesn’t take women serious as designers? Feminist Nazi crap for sake of Feminist Nazi crap is pointless and tired. I realize you are a guy and perhaps you hope to come across all sensitive to the plight of women who are being held down by the evil oppressive man, however all you are actually going to accomplish is negatively reinforcing that women are helpless creatures confused by “mans” world of technology.

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    • 42

      You’re right. What would you care? Why would you care if people with a different ethnic background or a different sex or a different whatever aren’t as represented in your field as in other ones? Why would you care about anybody but yourself? It’s not like equality’s important, right?

      7
      • 43

        equality for the sake of equality is pointless. People in the United States rise and fall within a particular field because of talent. If they are talented and have drive, then they will succeed. In other countries this might be a problem, but the United States has gone past this. If you are seeing discrimination in the hiring process, then perhaps you should look at your portfolio and not at the “oppressive men” holding you back.

        Of course there is racism and sexism, it is part of the human condition and it is claimed by both sides of the isle. It also only makes up a tiny fraction of the reason why women, men, Africans, Latinos, Asians, etc… don’t find work.

        Most discrimination that people face these days, is self discrimination. A mental blocks that tells them that they can’t do that or that they should do something else.

        Instead of focusing on why more men than women are web designers, perhaps you should focus on baking me some cookies. <– That is sexism

        Jane decides to pursue a career other than web development <– Not sexism

        6
        • 44

          In the same comment you manage to say that people in the US fail because they lack talent and still acknowledge that racism and sexism exist. But hey, that’s life? Why do something about it? It’s not like humanity hasn’t fought for equality for ages? Be careful, your privilege is showing.

          Not even to comment on the bit where the US is implicitly superior to the rest of the world because ‘it’s gotten past this problem’. It must be interesting to live in your fantasy world…

          9
          • 45

            Yes, my privilege as a black / native american

            HAHAHAHAHAHA

            oh wait like I care, I am sick of whiny people, you succeed because you have talent and drive.

            If you don’t succeed in this field it is because you have no talent && || are lazy. <– Amazing grammar skills on display

            -12
          • 46

            Yeah, it exists, but what else is new? That isn’t the reason why these statistics are so staggeringly disjointed.

            0
          • 47

            Privilege? Would you care to provide your definition privilege?

            By the world’s standard, the fact that you’re sitting in front of a computer, making a living, have enough food to eat, means that you are more “privileged” than 80% of the world’s population. I think what’s really showing is your class envy. Never mind that you’ve made a rather nasty blanket implication about people of wealth.

            The point Jeremiah is making is sound. Even if racism and sexism were rampant in the western world – which they aren’t – that wouldn’t be an excuse for not succeeding.

            We live in a world where everyone – EVERYONE – faces some type of hardship. For example, try getting into top level management as a short man, i.e. less than 5’7. Before we open our mouths the interviewer is making horrible assumptions about character, drive, tenacity, will-power, and so on.

            I’ll would be willing to bet you don’t even date short guys! Neither did my wife, and yet, here we are closing in on year 15.

            The broader statement is that, the moment you let your circumstances define you, whether it be black, female, too short, too fat, too thin, too handicapped, too “ethnic”, that is the moment you lose, not to some external oppressor with a chip on his/her shoulder, but to the oppressor that lives within.

            6
          • 48

            @Beau, the system won’t let me answer your comment directly so I’ll answer mine.

            I don’t know what point you’re trying to make with your first paragraph. If you think I don’t know how privileged I am, you couldn’t be more wrong. I’m very, very aware of it and have read countless discussions on a wide variety of subjects where this was made all the more clear to me.

            Yes, everybody has some hardship to face. Now if you equal being a short man to being handicapped, seriously no.

            I don’t want to paraphrase your last paragraph but if I read it right you’re trying to say that if someone tries hard enough they’ll succeed. Do you think any group who fought for some equality didn’t try enough? Do you think people currently fighting to get the same rights as any other citizens, wherever that is, including Western countries, aren’t trying hard enough? Who’s got the power? The ones who make the laws, the ones who held upper positions. Until you can make them listen *and* they’re willing to listen, nothing changes. It has to come from both sides. Unless you have the means and opportunities to start a revolution but that’s a different story. The statement that sexism plays absolutely no role in this is ignorance and/or denial.

            @Jeremiah: yeah because being black obviously tells you what it is to be a woman or a person of Asian descent or any other thing that can set you apart in certain circumstances. Also nice use of the word ‘Nazi’. That is totally not offensive and disrespectful.

            2
          • 49

            @Jamie. You’re the one who brought up privilege, and used it as an weapon. That alone seemed to indicate a rather self-centered worldview, so I asked or clarification. So, if Jeremiah’s privilege is “showing” can we now safely assume that yours is as well? Or is it “different” somehow, now that it has been pointed out?

            “Yes, everybody has some hardship to face. Now if you equal being a short man to being handicapped, seriously no.”

            That’s about as bad a straw-man as I’ve ever seen. Since you are not a man at all, let alone a short man, or a tall man; since you have never been a tall man interviewing a short man, or a short man being interviewed, I reject your dismissal, as you did Jeremiah. Done.

            I also happen to have a severe form of dyslexia and I wasn’t able to read until I was in my late-teens. Handicap? Sure. But on the lucky end of that spectrum, I think we’d both agree.

            “I don’t want to paraphrase your last paragraph but if I read it right you’re trying to say that if someone tries hard enough they’ll succeed.”

            Nope. That’s not what I said at all. Success is not, nor should it be, guaranteed for anyone. What I’m saying is that the best outcome for anyone is to work toward becoming the master of your circumstances, rather than letting them master you. Easy? Hell no. Necessary for self-improvement? Hell yes. The worst thing anyone can do is see themselves as a lifelong victim of circumstance – even if they’ve actually been victimized by them.

            “Do you think any group who fought for some equality didn’t try enough? Do you think people currently fighting to get the same rights as any other citizens, wherever that is, including Western countries, aren’t trying hard enough? ”

            To say that there is a severe disparity in the rights of one group vs. the another group – in western countries – is not only stupid, it’s an insult to people who face REAL oppression in other cultures.

            If you were truly concerned for the plight of oppressed women, your focus wouldn’t be on perceived societal slights, but rather for those living in hard-line Muslim nations, where genital mutilation (i.e. female circumcision) is still legal and practiced, where many women are legally beaten into submission on a daily basis, and have virtually no protections under the law. You say you have perspective of just how privileged you are, but your words do not show it.

            “Unless you have the means and opportunities to start a revolution but that’s a different story. The statement that sexism plays absolutely no role in this is ignorance and/or denial.”

            Don’t put words in my mouth. I don’t believe in absolutes one way or the other. I said even if those things do exist, then it is simply the hand you’ve been dealt. You can either play it to the best of your ability, or wait for someone to come along and rescue you. However, one should be wary of the rescuers, as they usually take more than they give, and end up being the destroyers rather than the saviors.

            “@Jeremiah: yeah because being black obviously tells you what it is to be a woman or a person of Asian descent or any other thing that can set you apart in certain circumstances. Also nice use of the word ‘Nazi’. That is totally not offensive and disrespectful.”

            As though being a woman of Asian decent gives you the platform to judge everyone else’s situation as lesser than yours. I’m sick of this me-ism. It’s not about you. It’s not about your victimhood. It’s not about your race. It’s not about your gender. It’s not about the level of your attractiveness. None of those things will determine how far you go. Success, at the end of the day, comes down to your talents, and how efficient and effective you become at using them.

            3
          • 50

            @Beau. Just wanted to say I’m sorry I can’t continue this discussion further. I’d like to but the lack of threading at this point makes it awful.
            Just one thing, though, and kind of a rhetoric question tbh: why would you assume I’m a woman and apparently also a person of Asian descent? (If clarification was needed, I’m not Jamie from comment #23).

            0
          • 51

            @Jamie I agree, the lack of threading bites.

            For clarification, you had told Jeremiah that his being black can’t give him perspective on the things that set us apart, which is kind of a self-defeating accusation, because you can’t see what it’s like to be him either. Being a woman or a minority doesn’t create one iota of external insight into what it’s like to be one of the more “privileged” you mentioned earlier.

            To hold in contempt a group of people because they were born into WHAT YOU PERCEIVE as an easier life, is every bit as unfair as any other type of discrimination, and is in essence just a form of bitterness which will contribute to failure more than success.

            Anyway, I’ve enjoyed the conversation. Blessings onya.

            0
        • 52

          I agree that there shouldn’t be quotas or anything like that. If making a conscious effort to include more women in web design lowered the quality of overall output, that would be horrible and we shouldn’t do it!

          But what we’re talking about is the institutional factors around the lack of women in web design, and that has nothing to do with quality of work.

          Have you ever walked into a craft store or somewhere else staffed by women and felt weird for being the only dude there? Like all the women were judging you and hoping you’d leave? Like you have to explain to them why you’re there – “I’m not gay, it’s for my wife” etc?

          Being a woman programmer is still weird. Even if guys support it, they’re still confused by it, and they still make hiring decisions based on assumptions they’ve made about women without even realizing it. It’s not about telling women who’d rather be baking that they have to be programmers, it’s about making it less awkward for men to go to the craft store or women to go to the hardware store. It’s about making sure the people who want to devote their lives to this can and do.

          When the programming world isn’t filled with weird BS about women, we can have that awesome meritocracy you want.

          9
          • 53

            Sure I will agree I do find it weird and strange when I meet a female programmer. I am also very happy when I do. Of course there is going to be “weird BS” about women in programming and that is because so few decide to do it. It is not about women and the perception of them being designers and programmers, it is about the rarity of finding women who share similar interests. I don’t know of one company that isn’t grateful to find qualified and talented females to do this type of work. Heck, we want it. It is about finding women who actually “want” to work in this field and who do excel.

            In the programming world there are millions of men who “program and design” out of that million only about 5% are actually any good.

            The same statistic will probably hold true for women. So if you have 1,000,000 men programming and only 100,000 women, the job pool of qualified applicants is just that much more reduced.

            It doesn’t have anything to do with mens perceptions, but of womens perceptions.

            I think the worst thing for women trying to enter this field, is other women… not men.

            3
          • 54

            Actually, I’ve found being the only male in the craft store by myself gets me more help and attention from the employees, like they’re impressed that a male would want fabric to make a blanket as a gift or something >_<

            Sexism exists in many forms, but the important part is that it doesn't become systemic. The reactions of male designers of surprise at a female's abilities that are being told here are the type of thing that needs to be stopped, but I have to ask: is it ALL males who get surprised when dealing with a competent female? Or do the actions of a small number of men brand the sentiments?

            1
    • 55

      I agree. While the numbers are shocking I think more and more people are finding that gender is a moot point. It would be interesting to see a break down of those statistics including age (perhaps it was in the poll and I just missed it.)

      I was also confused by the notion that women are better at designing for women. I don’t really design for a gender base unless the product is geared toward a female audience or alternately for men.

      Younger people are all using technology at pretty equal rates. My 7 year old niece as no problem using a computer to draw. Eventually this phenomenon will probably be a thing of the past. More than anything I attribute my interest in computers to my parents.

      I do hope other women get into the field, but honestly I don’t think there is ever I difference in the final product either way.

      1
      • 56

        J.D., you may not consciously gear your work towards men, but by being a man, you probably think in male terms. Just as our work is affected by our experiences, yours–and my–experiences are affected by being male. Now, doesn’t that mean your work will be more likely to be male-oriented? It’s a bit hard to see this, I know. A bit like how does the fish ever realize he’s swimming in water?

        1
    • 57

      i love work with other womens but i don’t care if there is more mans that womens since the mans don’t descrimine me. And until now, the thing that i more hate is realy this kind of article that do how you says “women are helpless creatures confused by “mans” world of technology.”… until that with no intention, this is what is caled “positive descrimination” is like the “Day of women” ( i don’t know if there is this day too in other countrys, i’m from portugal).
      We don’t are like childrens or incapacity persons who needs protection , special days and special atention.
      I hate the comment “oh there is because the womens want have babies” because reinforce the sexiste stereotype.
      i’m women; i’m a UI designer and i love technology and i hate babies and pink…and no, i’m not lesbian. And yes, i know a lot of womens like me!

      -1
  12. 58

    To be honest I do struggle to find motivation and inspiration in our field. While I do work with many talented men, I can’t really say “I want to be just like him”. It’s not a lack of talent, there’s plenty. We all love what we do, but we have different ways of doing things, different ways of looking at it, different priorities. That’s not a bad thing of course. But, oh well you know what I mean.

    0
  13. 59

    I just had this discussion with my husband the other night about gender bias in the field. He pointed out that decades ago men dominated much of the advertising/marketing/design world which let’s face it; it’s a tradition that that hasn’t changed in years for a variety of reasons. To the eyes of a client who will invest thousands of dollars into a project they are more comfortable talking to a man about it; there’s something that says solid and confident. The sad thing is that in many ways I can see that, many of the female designers I’ve known, seem to lack confidence in themselves and that sends a big warning sign out to people. After all if you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect anyone else to?

    We as women need to be firm but not stone, we need to be confident not egotistic and most importantly we need to let someone know dead in the eyes that we are in control. I can’t tell you the number of times I have thrown someone off balance by simply taking a step forward in a handshake or by asking one question “why?”

    Eventually we will see more of an equal ration it’s going to take some time and a little moxy!

    8
  14. 60

    I don’t see this concern towards men in female dominated human services fields whatsoever. I don’t even see any concern about the decreased ratio of men to women in colleges and universities either.

    I don’t care that women don’t have any role models in web development. I don’t care that they don’t have role models in graffiti art either. I don’t care that fine art or engineering is male dominated either much like women don’t care that social work, teaching, psychology, and accounting professions are female dominated.

    It’s all about the work and the result – that is why I read “Smashing.” Putting emphasis on gender is rotten way to get traffic by creating a ad hoc gender war.

    -12
    • 61

      You don’t care because it doesn’t affect you. You would if it did.

      And I have read a lot of articles by people concerned with the male/female ratio in colleges, so some people are very concerned about it.

      As for human services – perhaps there’s no outcry because there aren’t many men who want to go into those fields. Or maybe not. Just so you know, though, our current and last head of HR are men, so maybe female domination in the field isn’t a problem for men in the field. If it was – wouldn’t there be articles about it written by those men for whom it was a problem?

      3
  15. 62

    I’ve been in web design professionally for the past 8 years or so. In the last 2 years I’ve shifted my career path towards being a developer, and now work full time as a software engineer.
    Just last week I attended a 4 day Microsoft developers conference in Vegas and the ratio between women & men was easily 1/60. I didn’t care and I doubt any of the male developers did either.
    I have an edge in the field because I can where both hats as a designer/developer. My gender has nothing to do with my talent.

    10
    • 63

      And you probably look really good! Who needs plants or pin-up posters, if you can hire a real-life girl to be in your office and fetch coffee for the men and motivate them when they need to finish a project?

      -30
      • 64

        Dude, seriously! I really do hope you were being sarcastic because it’s that kind of attitude that’s the problem in very male dominated job roles.

        Thankfully I’ve never had my gender thrown in my face (with regards to my job) and that any men that I have worked with have been very positive and encouraging.

        Also, I think that perhaps I’m actually more employable because I am female and therefore fill the gap in an otherwise all male team – I’ve certainly used it to my advantage in interviews!

        Perhaps it is simply that naturally women don’t have the ‘dog-eat-dog’ mentality that comes part and parcel with the creative industry…? This is why I’m glad that during my time studying, we spent just as much time learning how to defend our thoughts and concepts as we did learning design history and principles.

        Great article btw, I really enjoyed reading it and also the comments that followed. Very mixed bag of reactions.

        3
      • 65

        do not feed the troll

        3
  16. 66

    I am the only female web designer at my company and I was the only female web designer at the company I work at previously. I find I DO have to prove to my co-workers and employers that I am “technical” and I have to work to prove that I “know my stuff”.

    My first day on the job, I solved a css problem I was told was impossible, sparking the open apology from a co-worker who had advised management not to hire me because I’d end up being another “paper pusher” and unable to pull my weight of billable work. I was shocked, but even more shocked that the other girl in the office believed and openly stated the women were not technical (she no longer works here).

    I love working with guys and I don’t care how many women actually work in web, but I do care that I still have to prove that I can handle the work like the guys, even thought my resume and past work experience say I know my stuff.

    30
    • 67

      Fantastic! I’m glad you were able to prove them wrong! Keep up the good fight =D

      4
    • 68

      Emily, This is exactly how I feel. Just echoing your thoughts. I find it interesting that when being critiqued by designers online where my gender is not known to them they refer to me as a male.

      4
    • 69

      That co-worker was a sleezy idiot. Those exist in any company. If a man comes on board that he does not like, he will make up another sleezy remark to management. This kind of stuff happens to men all the time as well, it’s just office politics, not sexism. If you would get less pay because you’re a woman, that would be sexism.

      -2
    • 70

      well lets face it women are less “technical” than men which is very true, women have to work a lot harder to become remotely close as good.

      -13
  17. 71

    I’m interested in everyone’s opinion on the roll that family plays in the design field as well as every industry where women are (regrettably) compared to men. If I’m not off-base, and please set me straight if I am, a woman who starts a family (either with a man, a woman or as a single mother) more or less chooses to focus on that family for a period of time which leaves others (males, mostly) with more time to pursue a career. If expertise is measured in hours spent in a field (ie, something arbitrary like the “100,00 hour rule”) isn’t the time spent on family going to impact the time required for expertise? I’m assuming no gender bias, of course (which is naive) and only looking at this from a family / career time balance perspective. Opinions?

    1
    • 72

      This is a good point. But the problem happens when the prejudice comes before the woman has taken time off to have kids – just assuming she’s less of a designer because she’s female or that her opinion isn’t as good as a man’s. That’s what’s sexist. Or assuming that because she’s taken time off for children that suddenly she’s not capable of doing the same things she was doing previously. Obviously others have moved ahead while she took time off, but that’s the price you pay with that choice. However, you shouldn’t have to be seen as suddenly unable to use previous knowledge and experience. I suppose in a fast-moving tech industry, some reskilling would have to be the price you’d pay to convince people you could still keep up.

      If a woman takes several years off of work for children, of course she can expect not to climb as high in her career as someone who didn’t. And many woman who want kids are fine with that. It’s the lack of respect from the get-go that is the problem – or the assumption that a young childless women will know less than a young childless man with the same degree and experience level… not less women at the top of the ladder. The top of the ladder is only accessible for those who spend all their energy striving for that, which excludes people who focus on other things. That’s not sexism, it’s just an unfortunate fact of corporate life. However, not hiring women because they aren’t “good at design” or paying them less because “they aren’t as good as men”. These are the perceptions and problems woman are still grappling with in a lot of places, whether they have kids or not. Not all though and it is getting better in general.

      Anyway, I don’t think your question was sexist at all – very realistic in fact – and I think that the more people discuss these things, the better it is and the more ideas are thrown into the mix.

      2
  18. 73

    As a female web developer, I design and program. It is part of my job requirement. And… I have to do both well.

    Do I find my job difficult to do? No. What I find difficult to come to terms with is attitudes. I am often viewed with trepidation by my male colleagues and sometimes obnoxiousness. Unfortunately (at least in my situation), I don’t see any change in the near future because I am the only female web developer within my work place of 5,000 plus employees. What makes my job bearable is the all male team I work with have accepted me–but I have run into gender bias for a very long time… since 1994 to be more specific.

    Overall, I believe it is a social misconception about women and their supposed lack of ability to design, program or troubleshoot a database– or anything technology based. It is much like the nonsense I grew up with for example “women can’t do math well…” It’s a myth that needs to put to rest. I also don’t believe it has anything to do with motherhood (I have four children) but rather the challenges of juggling a family while keeping current with the trends and constant changes in this evolving field but that could be said about any professional field.

    10
  19. 74

    Holy crap this article is stirring up some controversy, I’ve never seen so many thumbed down comments in a Smashing article before O_O

    -3
    • 75

      Was that thumb down just to be spiteful or humorous?

      Well, I find it amusing.

      5
    • 76

      Iris Kopic (Editor at Smashing Magazine)

      November 12, 2010 1:55 pm

      @Mohawk Kellye: Yes you are right, but after all, this is part of our Opinion Column. Everyone has different opinions on the subject and as mentioned above in the article, gender disparities in the design field is indeed a controversial as well as a complex topic!

      @John: I agree with you and would also like to thank everyone for their comments and opinions. Exactly what this article is about. Would also kindly like to ask everyone to respect each other’s opinions and focus more on the web design community!

      6
  20. 77

    Forgive me for being simplistic, but could it be possible that more men answered the “A List Apart” survey than women and that skewed the stats? Some of the most prolific Web designers I’ve seen have been women: Kelly Goto, George Oates, Molly Holzschlag, and Ducky Sherwood, just to name a few. Go on any Web designer mailing list and you’ll see a mostly-equal representation of both genders. In fact, I have more female industry contacts than male, by an almost 2:1 ratio. Look at the biggest Web conferences today and look at how many women are headlining these events.

    I’ve never seen gender discrimination in Web design; you can be sure that if I did, I would petition to the best of my ability to make the situation fair, but in my circles this has not been the case. I’d also have to look at each case individually rather than blanketing the entire industry, because sometimes what people perceive as discrimination is actually just random chance (for example, I know far more brown-haired people in Web design, but I don’t feel that blonde-haired people are discriminated against because of this fact).

    2
  21. 78

    Throughout my time as a web designer all of my clients have been females. However, my sample may be slightly skewed as I’ve had only twenty or so clients. It could also be skewed by the fact that am a high school student. While dealing with such clients I have never noticed a lack of technology skill on their part. While I believe some designers may have the attitude that women designers are outcasts or that they don’t belong, there may be hope in the new, up-and-coming generation of designers.

    1
  22. 79

    I am a female designer and I don’t necessarily mind that there are more male designers as long as it is an accurate representation of what’s out there. What bothers me is that I could be potentially stereotyped because of statistics like this. I consider myself to be better at designing for men than for women sometimes and I wouldn’t want to be written off as a female designer because there is a pre-disposed idea that I won’t be able to design for male demographics.

    1
  23. 80

    John Mindiola III

    November 12, 2010 9:26 am

    A sincere thank you to all for the myriad comments. The wide range of reactions is what this article is all about. It’s a phenomenon deserving of our attention.

    3
  24. 81

    Thanks for posting this. I myself have been wondering why the field seems to honor predominantly male designers (particularly in the web arena). I think this is rapidly changing, though; Meagan Fisher, Sarah Parmenter, and Jina Bolton keep popping up on the lecture circuit and in CSS galleries. I think the medium is still new enough that women can become a veritable force in design, rather than let it become another “male-dominated industry.”

    I think the key is to turn that long-time conditioning against itself. If so-called girls’ toys condition children to become story-tellers, why not demonstrate that design and development can be used as a vehicle for story telling?

    1
  25. 84

    Good Bag of mixed reactions! It’s easy to bucket women and men in different categories, but truth is I’ve worked with plenty of designers & developers from both genders who were awesome in their roles.

    Bottom line: diversity; whether in gender, age, race… is good for the industry.

    7
  26. 85

    Yikes.
    Eh… I have little tolerance for people always looking for a scapegoat as to why things are the way they are. Sure, lack of equality DOES exist in many aspects of all industries as well as in society, but as a black/native american, punk rock-looking, masculine, fresh-out-of-college black lesbian with a blonde mohawk working as a web developer barely a year out of school in such a crappy economy, I beg to differ. Nobody I graduated with was any more or less talented than I was or had any more or less opportunities than I did, but I’m one of the few people with a real job after working my ass off for 4 years straight and putting myself into debt for eternity.

    I grew up in Tennessee, which definitely doesn’t have a lot of space for someone like me or in this industry to grow, which is why I chose not to pursue a career there, afraid that it would be hard for me, but in fact, I still get a lot of freelance business from there because…

    Nobody cares. I’m a talented individual and that’s all they’re looking for in the right candidate. Not whether or not you have the same genitalia or look cute in a skirt or something stupid like that.

    In the beginning, I got turned down for a lot of jobs after being interviewed. I could have pointed to many of the reasons that someone would discriminate against me–not enough experience, maybe I look too weird, etc. Instead, I spruced up my portfolio, came to interviews more prepared, and even donned a full blown men’s suit that I spent a lot of money on, specifically for interviews. I’ve gotten the job every time, and not because they felt like they need to hire a minority or some other institutionalized BS that sometimes people use as a crutch.

    What it REALLY comes down to, in my opinion, and I don’t care if people disagree, because I’m just that kind of doesn’t-give-a-shit kind of person, is that some females must not possess/exude enough confidence and drive in this field. Some of them might decide that they just really don’t like web design or development, so they end up doing something else. That’s completely fine. Some women don’t like playing video games either, it’s just not something they can get into. Some will be developers, and be good at it, but don’t do anything to stand out from the bunch. Others may be completely intimidated and steer clear from a male dominated industry in the first place. And when some try and fail, they want to point the fingers at everyone/everything else.

    Who cares that there’s not enough role models out in the industry there for women? Be one yourself. Maybe there’s not a specific female web design/dev role model, but there’s ample women and others who have even paved the way for us to get to that point on our own. If you REALLY want to see a women at the forefront of something in this industry then strive for it yourself and stop waiting for someone else to step up to the plate. I would love to do so myself one day, but I’m still just a newbie for now.

    I hope all of you one day will attend a seminar that I may be able to hold when I’m a successful developer called “Be a hella good developer/designer and quit yer bitchin”.

    This post was entirely too long. Time for lunch.

    Sincerely,
    Mohawk Kellye

    8
  27. 86

    I have struggled for years to get freelance work despite having a very well rounded portfolio of well designed pieces and 11 years of in-house experience. I have complete confidence in my portfolio, rates, and professionalism, but the only people who have ever hired me are other women. I’m really giving serious thought to operating under my husband’s name in the freelance field just to see if that will make a difference.

    3
  28. 87

    female_videogame_designer_college_student

    November 12, 2010 10:18 am

    there is a part mentioned here that it is hard for a young adult to go to college let alone with little encouragement from the mother or father. being a law in my state you must be 24 years or older in order to sign for your own papers in college, if you are under the age of 24 then your parents must sign. my mother wanted me to stay home and watch my little brother 24/7 and would not sign papers for me to go to school and i have only met my father 4 times in my life. i pushed for my goal as hard as i could and now i have scholarships to help me follow my dream and achieve what i want to do.

    i think why you see so many females in college classrooms would be because either later in life it isn’t really want they wanted to do, they don’t make smart decisions in life, they get talked out of it by most likely a male in their life, or they are intimidated by men and being a male oriented work area, they back down. there could be so many reasons as to why.

    i am in my 3rd year of college and i will soon have my bachelors and i may go on to get my masters. i love learning the new programs and making anything 3d, animated, or playing fields. give me any project and i am pretty sure i can do it 10 times better than most males in my classes, that’s why they come to me for help on their class/homework.

    1
  29. 88

    I wonder why women so badly want to be like men… the bigger the difference between men and women the stronger is the society. Men and women brains works differently that’s why there is women and men predominant industries. Chess i think is the best example how different men and women think. It doesn’t mean one is better than the other, they are just different.

    Me for example I think all this some kind of joke to squeeze women everywhere so more people can work and bring profit…

    -18
    • 89

      female_videogame_designer_college_student

      November 12, 2010 10:31 am

      its not the fact women want to be like men, but we dont want to be stereotyped. all women are different just like all men are different. i am pretty sure there are more women that can put out a better game than some men out there.

      3
    • 90

      Don’t you think it’s better for an industry to get a balanced view if indeed men and women think differently? Groupthink is bad for organisations and business. More diversity in thinking styles is probably a good thing – both for creativity and the bottom line. Do you want people trying to solve problems together who all think the same way or would it be better to have people who think differently trying to problem solve together? I would bet that more ideas are generated by the latter group, even if it just from the friction of trying to persuade convergent thinkers to your point of view.

      1
  30. 91

    People, listen. Female and male are adjectives, NOT NOUNS. And it sounds degrading as heck to call your fellow man or woman males or females. That’s how I would describe the gender of an animal, not one of the peers in my industry, especially in an intelligent discussion such as this.

    1
  31. 93

    Just wanted to say I appreciate being quoted in such a smart, thoughtful piece.

    3
  32. 94

    I think there’s a huge disparity between not only women and men, but people of color. I recently had the opportunity to design the wheelchair hubcaps for the US Wheelchair fencing team. The design made it’s debut in Paris this week, it’s disheartening to me when I study the work and design of others, and none of the faces are like mine. I love design, I also have many other talents such as writing, photography and illustration. My hubcap design was featured in the November newsletter of Graphic Design USA but I think about the kid down the street who has talent and wants to share it with the world. What’s their motivation? Who’s their role model?

    It’s equally sad to find there is an organization created exclusively for black designers. It shows a clear age old division of being an artist and an “insert tag here” artist. Talent should be recognized regardless of gender or race but as a woman of color I increasingly struggle with a “separate but equal” industry.

    6
  33. 95

    Meh. I dont really see what all the commotion is about. If you do good work, you will succeed. If you dont, you wont. I have a hard time believing that this is something people think about when hiring and it seems like a self fulfilling prophecy. Especially in this field, your work speaks for itself.

    1
  34. 96

    Interesting post, especially considering the feedback.

    I generally agree that there still are clichés that say that men are “better at tech-stuff”. And ‘tech-stuff’ is what we’re talking about when it comes to webdesign.
    But these stereotypes are stated by both men and women! In a discussion like this, guys often feel attacked since the topic indicates that it’s them who actively discriminate women. Society equally consists of men and women and both have their share in creating restricting stereotypes.
    Let’s try to get rid of them together instead of searching for the culprit.

    When it comes to the design-job it is important (as already stated above) to radiate confidence when dealing with clients. And maybe that’s a bit easier for guys, profiting from the existing clichés.
    But as a female webdesigner (and generally being pretty sensitive when it comes to sexism btw.), I’ve never experienced any kind of disadvantage during my studies or work.
    Maybe I was lucky. But I definitely always was passionate and confident (a miracle, when I consider my older work ;).

    So girls: step up if you feel for it and don’t let clichés keep you from feeling confident.
    And guys: thank you for not feeling attacked by this topic – it’s not against you.
    But in a society that not long ago was more or less completely dominated by (old white) men in all leading positions it’s important to lead discussions like this.

    5
  35. 97

    This article just made me look around the office… I’m the only female designer here, haha… if you want to make it as a designer you have to work your ass off.. doesn’t matter if your male or female.. some people some can’t handle the pressure.

    0
  36. 98

    John:

    I have to say that this was an amazing article to read. I am equally impressed with the numbers of comments that were received. How profound! My comment was like very many, people succeed because they want to & have the drive, and don’t let discrimantion get in their way. If there are not that many females in the field, then they quit too soon!!! Being a chef; I have got to say, took alot of hardwork & inpsiration & because I am great at cooking, is also a male dominated field. Especially thinking when “women” were the great cooks. In my culinary schooling it was a balance of both men & women, but most the women were “learning” to cook due to the fact they were getting married & not interested in pursuing a career. I went to Culinary School knowing this male domination & it only helped me succeed where I already knew I could!

    3
    • 99

      You make a good point. Hard work will get you far. And, personally, I am always impressed when I see women in web development or design (I’m a developer). You just don’t see that many. And when you see a confident, competent female developer, that’s just incredible and inspiring.

      1
  37. 100

    I think there’s not a lot of women in the industry because it’s too NERDY. I think that in print design, the gender disparity would be less. Let’s face it, most web designers are major nerds, with bad hygiene and social skills. Who wants to be part of that?

    -10
    • 101

      female_videogame_designer_college_student

      November 12, 2010 12:34 pm

      well that implies that all nerdy people with bad hygiene can deal with web design, what about the women with bad hygiene and who are nerdy? it’s just a thing that people need to face. women like it and can be better than most guys, not all, just most. men don’t want to admit that women could maybe be better than them at something.

      1
    • 102

      Wow, talk about generalizing!

      1
  38. 103

    simple: men are much more creative

    -34
  39. 106

    You have to be tough to get through a good school with a great portfolio than you have to really enjoy working in what can sometimes be the boy’s locker room. Women that aren’t easy going, quick on their feet, or are easily shocked aren’t always comfortable in male dominated design departments. If you enjoy pranks, laugh easily and can hang with the guys, creative departments are wonderful. You’ve got to bring some moxie to work with you, along with your talent.
    I’ve found the hours can be rugged and juggling motherhood with deadlines and travel is tricky. Quite a few talented women haven’t returned after the birth of their children or have opted to work part-time. This lack of retention is part of the reason for the lower numbers of working women in design fields. Thanks for a good article and interesting discussion.

    5
  40. 107

    As a women and a graphic design college student, I found this article offensive.

    “Our culture has built functioning gender-based roles, and has birthed young boys and girls excited to fill them. Why fix it if it ain’t broke? If gender balance is achieved in the creative industry, will it be adding new jobs for females, or replacing jobs that males had? If the latter is the case, what will happen to these men? ”

    Gender Based roles do not function well. Because there is discrimination towards the people that try to brake the molds. This society encourages you to see in black and white only. You either see a male or a female. But it would be so much better if everyone would be viewed just as people. And jobs in the creative industry should go to the best person, no matter if it’s male or female.

    “I don’t want to face my female students every day with the thought that more than half of them won’t ever be designers”

    Just because some statistics say that there are more male designers doesn’t mean that it can’t change in the future. Maybe all of your female students will become designers and start changing the industry. Maybe some of your male students will never be designers. You should look at all your students the same and teach them in the same way.

    My conclusion is that there should be no distinction between male and females. Our reproductive system has nothing to do with out abilities to do a certain job.

    2
    • 108

      John Mindiola III

      November 12, 2010 1:26 pm

      Lorraine, I completely agree with you. I never intended to offend anyone. This article is entirely about understanding the situation as is and doing something about it. My something started with a series of questions.

      -1
      • 109

        I don’t want to sound like a feminist champion here because I’m not one at all but I’m not sure you realize that this kind of article has been published over and over again, always from a solely male POV, always not asking all the right questions and always, always provoking the same kind of hateful comments or the ones with the same old arguments (‘women should try harder’ , ‘if only they were more motivated’, ‘what are you talking about? There is no discrimination where I work and I know this because I’m a guy or I know this because I’m a woman and I made it’; I’m sure there’s a list somewhere and I’m sure I’ve read it; it’s always the same predictable rhetoric) and I know many, many techy women are tired of reading such articles and comments and don’t even bother anymore. Have you actually interviewed women in and out of the field about this? Your students? Employers? Male co-workers of techy women? Try to understand what the people concerned think about it? Went to recent conferences which talked about women inclusion? I know your interest is genuine, I know your intentions are good but *sigh* it’s the same old thing really so, yeah, in a way I’ve found it a little offensive (not the way Lorraine meant it obviously). I’m sorry if I’m making way off-base assumptions here but that’s the way this article sounds like to me.

        7
        • 110

          John Mindiola III

          November 12, 2010 7:26 pm

          Jamie, you make excellent points. I raised questions, but yes, there are many more to raise.

          0
        • 111

          A thoughtful answer. But what’s wrong with being a feminist? A feminist just believes in asking questions about gender in our culture. It’s not the Rambo man-hater that people assume. Never has been. It’s an intellectual GOOD quality.

          5
    • 112

      Exactly, i just don’t get why these articles get written, at work, the people i work with are “designers” I don’t then sub divide them into male/female or brown eyes/blue eyes etc. I think anyone who writes an article like this must be inherently sexist, because they have obviously made a distinction in their mind between men and women, this distinction should not be popping into your heads, just like the distribution of blue eyed/brown eyed people in your office has never occurred to you.

      0
      • 113

        Jon, people who write about sexism aren’t necessarily sexist. Oftentimes, approaching hard subjects means taking a look at one’s own prejudices.

        1
  41. 114

    While I don’t see many women in the workplace, I often see them running their own design businesses, or doing freelance work. (personal experience….no real statistics)

    I’m betting that employment statistics might not be a good place to see the mix of women in the design profession, as they are less likely to be employed by a company, and more apt to be freelancers.

    I would certainly like to see more women in the design workplace because they have a different type of perspective than men do, they tend to be more “in touch” with how a design might make someone feel than many men are.

    7
  42. 116

    “men>>women!!”, “noooo women>>men!!” “discrimination bad!” “diversity yay!”

    i’m going back to work.

    -3
  43. 117

    I’ve never worked anywhere that had a female web designer. The reason? We never got and still don’t get resumes from female applicants. Where ever they’re going, it’s not where I work…

    0
  44. 118

    This may be beside the point, but in the ‘amateur’ web design field — groups of (predominantly) young people with little to no formal training in design, who create layouts and graphics as a kind of art form, and used to conglomerate on sites such as LiveJournal, although I’m not sure what they’re doing now — I believe a high percentage of these designers are female.

    -3
  45. 119

    Design is not all about technology! There are many different points in design world that creates this argument. If we talk about DESIGNING / CREATING itself, that’s a way of thinking, living. You must live with it. Beside living with your culture and society, you should think global & radical. Then one can see that both male and female visions are creating the whole visiual world.
    As a female designer in TURKEY i see that it’s been a problem still. There are many good designs from both male and female designers but unfortunately i can’t see a consentient mind to be able to say “we did it” or “she did it” (as seen in Google ex.) And i think in this point the female designers should raise their voice, be more enterprising. And some people should not forget: this is not a men’s world. It’s all about the desire to create.

    1
  46. 120

    @WhineAndDine –
    You should come up from out of your mom’s basement and into the real world. It’s 2010.

    4
  47. 121

    This is so true, I had a meeting at _____, SF (big s/w comp) a few years ago and I noticed so few women in senior roles. At the time I attributed it to women taking time off b/c of the mini-baby boom happening at the time. But it’s still going on.

    As a woman running a web design/dev studio, I’m constantly encountering clients who have a hard time receiving info from me about various nerdy tech solutions available to them for their web project. At times I’ve had to have one of my alliance partners become my “beard” and deal w/these gender hard-liners. And oddly, many of these gender hard-liner clients are female!

    Sometimes I feel there is an additional layer of screening I need to penetrate w/clients where I have to convince them that I’m an expert and I know my field.

    3
  48. 122

    While I have noticed this in terms of developers (and software engineering/computer science generally, fields where it’s been pointed out many times that the proportion of female professionals and students has been declining steadily for years and is now very low), I haven’t noticed this in terms of DESIGNERS, as the title of this article suggests.

    The ALA survey includes both designers and developers, with the mix seeming to be close to half of each (depending heavily on what kind of job titles constitute “Other”). A nearly 100% male dominated response from developers could shift the proportion for other job titles quite a bit, perhaps leaving designers with around 30-35% female representation as a rough guess – still a minority but a much larger share than the overall stat would suggest.

    (Anecdotally, 6 of the 8 designers or design directors I’ve worked with professionally have been women.)

    0
  49. 123

    Thank you so much for this article. I’ve always wondered myself why there are hardly any woman web designers either. I’ve been designing since I was 12, and I absolutely love it. It started out as a hobby, then evolved into my passion. I’m not sure why there are less woman designers out there, but I sure would love to find more of them. I love designing for the web. Taking something from nothing, and building it. It’s quite fun :P

    And don’t worry about the females in your classes. I’m sure there is at least one in the bunch that will make it.

    1
  50. 125

    It’s because “their biological clock is ticking, ticking, ticking!”

    (Sorry, as a fan of Marisa Tomei, I just couldn’t resist. ;-)

    0
  51. 126

    We just opened a new position for a web developer with decent pay and benefits, and so far the only people who have applied AND are qualified have by chance been women. Truth be told — I didn’t expect that, however when I make my decision for who gets the job gender will have no say in it. It comes down to skillset and the way their personality meshes with the rest of our team, period.

    As an employer, I feel the best way I can truly promote equality in the work place (for gender, ethnicity, orientation, what have you) is to hire entirely based on skills and the person’s ability to work with the team. As soon as I hire a woman for the sake of having women on the team, I feel I am undermining women’s very right to equality.

    9
  52. 127

    I would have liked to believe that gender bias was rare, but I’m feeling it in my current job and now have a greater understanding for what it means. I’ve encountered treatment and feedback in reviews that I’m certain would not have taken place were I a 40 year-old man. My confidence was perceived as “arrogant.” Assertion of my knowledge, always in a respectful and helpful spirit, was reviewed as me being “overconfident,” despite the lack of any tangible or specific examples and by someone with no background in design or related fields to be able to distinguish if something I’d said was incorrect. Certainly it’s worth considering if there’s truth in those assessments, but I’ve never been accused of those things in any other employment or interpersonal situation. We even had a conversation about how when I advise colleagues (with my professional expertise, mind you) I should make a point to use phrases like “I think” to make clear that it’s “only my opinion.” The message was clear: regardless of how I prove myself time and again and in the absence of any evidence that shows otherwise, they refuse to believe I know what I’m talking about.

    Problems like this obviously are not specific to this industry, but it does seem to particularly affect web design and related fields because they are so highly technical. In addition to the point made in the article about how women are perceived by both themselves and by men as being less technically competent as an entire gender, women are also seen as being overly emotional and swayed by “flights of fancy,” which in turn causes their opinions to hold less weight and be easily dismissed or more harshly criticized.

    Of course very rare would be the case that an employer/co-worker/client is following that train of thought outright. These are the types of beliefs that typically hide below the surface and affect decision-making without us realizing them. I’m not suggesting that when calling me arrogant my employer was thinking “she’s a woman, what does she know?” but rather he perhaps had an ingrained belief, a preconception, that gave him a feeling of doubt whenever I asserted an opinion or explained a piece of information.

    To further clarify to those who don’t see the problem: it’s not about convincing women who would rather do something else to become programmers and web designers. It’s also not about simply ensuring there are as many women in the industry as there are men. It’s about how women are perceived and treated within a work environment and within this particular industry.

    10
    • 128

      Yes, I too wasn’t aware of the gender bias until I finally worked somewhere it was pronounced. I was shocked by it, as I had always worked at places where gender was not an issue. I’m saddened to hear this is other women’s experience as well, but I take heart in the fact that those other places exist – the places where being female is not a problem and your opinions and knowledge aren’t taken less seriously. I really miss and appreciate those places more now – the comraderie and all the shared knowledge I got there.

      I think the people who keep exhorting women to “try harder” don’t understand that sometimes it’s not about the work at all – that some people will dismiss anything knowing it’s coming from someone they consider intellectually and creatively inferior. And that there are enough people in the workforce who feel like this that it’s a problem. I think time and the migration of more and more women into tech and web is the only thing that will eventually cure these attitudes.

      1
  53. 129

    I have to say that I would miss female input into design (web as well as physical goods), as it has a completely different energy: more appealing to the user, harmonious, playful, less edgy…

    That said: I can believe that companies, who see themselves in the market of guy things, like software, cars, tools, construction, the list could go on, will probably prefer a ‘male’ design – proof of how ignorant they are! I think that ‘blokeiness’ (Australian term for male energy) could be the main reason why their product might repel half the market – many women simply don’t connect with these products. Go the other extreme: European car interiors, like BMW, are designed by women for years, and the guys still love them and buy them in droves…

    As long as women don’t get more deciding positions in management it’ll be a slow process to change this mind set.

    Go GIRLS, GO!

    0
    • 130

      You make some good points. I also think that a lot of ideas of how to market to women in this industry could use more female input. For instance – “make it pink!” is not a panacea that suddenly makes your site something women can’t live without. I find that kind of thinking very lazy – for men and for women – and yet I have encountered it a lot in design…from both men and women, but I’m sorry to say more from men. Just my anecdotal evidence, so not really indicative of wider trends per se, but I was appalled at the lazy ideas of gender, design and what appeals to whom. Studies show that both men and women prefer blue to pink in websites, but the opinions of those using pink could not be moved by the data. Which just shows how deep their ideas of gender go – that actual research couldn’t budge what they “felt” to be true.

      0
  54. 131

    I can say that it may be harder to be taken seriously as a woman in any tech-related job… including web design. (Graphic design, in my experience, is an entirely different subject… I’ve seen plenty of females there but very few in web roles.) I get people telling me all the time, “OMG, you don’t LOOK like a web designer.” I recently had a meeting with a potential freelance client who stared at my chest the whole meeting, only to tell me at the end “well you sound like you know what you’re talking about, but I’m going to have a hard time taking you seriously as a web designer, you’re just too cute.” Yeah. I promptly informed him I was no longer interested in the project.

    6
  55. 132

    Because it’s a predominantly freelance and non-union field, there is no realistic way for a woman to choose both design AND mothering. The extra hours, money and energy required to run a successful design business are simply not available to mothers, while the privileges afforded mothers who are “employed” in a more traditional sense are not available to design freelancers. While all the points mentioned in the article are true, I believe this is the single definitive explanation. In fact, in places where all people have decent benefits including maternity leaves and health care, these gender disparities are much less pronounced (in France and Northern Europe, for example).

    4
  56. 133

    Oh, this old chestnut. Yes, I said OLD because it is getting old.

    In my experience yes, there are more males in design agencies, but these agencies are serving male dominated client companies. Surely it is right to serve your clients best with a team of designers who are best suited to your clients??

    However, if you’re wondering why there are less women overall in design then you are looking in the wring places. The fields of graphic design for fashion, illustration and freelance web design (from home run businesses like Delicious Design Studio up to UI superstars like Sarah Parmenter) I find are dominated by females.

    Don’t assume from your stats that women just don’t get the jobs. I think you’ll find that the surveys aren’t reaching far enough!

    -3
  57. 134

    There seems to be a lot of controversy about whether or not men and women can do the same jobs, or more specifically, whether or not women can do the same jobs a man can do. I’m not a woman, so I can’t speak from that side of the story, but I do know that men cannot do the same jobs as women. I once helped out in a school, a primary school, helping to teach the kindergartens. I eventually left because, as the children wanted to play, they would often grab my hands and swing. Each time, I was taken aside and told not to touch the children ever. There was no problem with the women being touched by the kids, but there was a problem with the men, each man was immediately seen as a potential paedophile. I know that men cannot do the same job as women. So to me, it stands to reason that women cannot do the same jobs as men. I do doubt that women would find design difficult though, I would have thought that their creativity would help them excel.

    -1
    • 135

      You were able to do that job – you were just stopped by ridiculous fears and prejudices of people above you. So your experience does not in any way prove that men and women can’t do the same jobs. It only proves that some workplaces can’t handle someone who doesn’t meet their gender criteria doing that job, not that you aren’t capable of it.

      3
  58. 136

    I own a small web design company that employs 3 people; 1 male designer/front-end developer, 1 male back-end developer, and 1 female project manager.

    Do I have gender-bias because of that? The truth is, the vast majority of applicants for designers and developers that have come to me have been male. I would be happy to employ female web designers and developers, but I base all of my hiring decisions on the individual applicants’ quality of work and skill-set – and thus have turned down numerous male applicants as well as some female.

    Interestingly, there seems to be a conditioning that female’s make up the majority of project managers. Perhaps the idea stems from a perception that women tend to be well-organized, better communicators and that customers enjoy dealing with women on the phone better than with men.

    I’m not sure if this is true, but if it is, then it would seem reasonable that most women do not want to stare at lines of HTML, CSS, PHP and Javascript all day. It’s not a case of the employer turning down a female applicant, it’s that the resume wasn’t there in the first place.

    -1
  59. 137

    Well, I notice, with my female designer-colleagues, they have absolute stunning eye for detail, but the technical part is way less than the average guy I’ve worked with. This is a big handicap for them because it makes them spend up to 4x more time on the same projects without the results being (that much) better. Compare it to a great webdesigner, still using frontpage… ;-)

    I feel you have to be a bit of a computerfreak with a passion for all digital and web 2.0 to be a great illustrator, photographer, photoshopper, because the world changes lightning fast… and that’s where most girls I know tend to stop :)

    But girls tend to look at a design completely different, so you definitely need them if you want a great universal appealing design, they see things, us guys, will never see. They dare to use colours and shapes us guys never dare to use :D

    I say: Go girls, Go, we need you!! and don’t be afraid of computers!
    Matt – http://goo.gl/gr70K

    -9
  60. 138

    Sexism in the tech/design/creative communities is largely imagined as a story of progress. “It’s better today than 10 years ago” or “Those old sexist designers are going the way of the dinosaur” and “Today’s classrooms are 50/50″ are certainly statements that are true, but time + numbers don’t equal equality.

    As a woman, a designer (web/ixd), and a college/grad-level design educator, I feel the responsibility to speak of a new culture of sexism. That isn’t to say that progress hasn’t been made (those old, sexist designers ARE going the way of the dinosaur… even though they still make classrooms unbearable on a daily basis for many young women in design school) but it’s dangerous not to recognize the NEW face of a pervasive problem, which I see stemming from the exciting, risk-taking, cut-throat frat boy culture of newer companies.

    Many of the older companies I’ve worked for who deal with HUGE clients in traditionally male-dominated fields are actually far less sexist than newer, younger companies. To begin with, older companies have had the advantage of time to assemble great teams of creatives and techs who work well together, and to figure out a working balance of power and authority between the founders/c-levels and lower-level employees. Harmony = productivity. The younger companies I’ve worked for have been quickly assembled teams comprised of the founder (usually a man) and the founder’s college friends (usually men as well) which leads to an environment of cronyism characterized by irresponsibility, in-jokes and testosterone. A perfect recipe for not only sexism, but also for sexual harassment. As a result, I’ve seen many female designers move from newer companies to older companies, bringing their skillset to businesses in serious need of help.

    If this subject seems like a tired old chestnut to some commenters, that’s probably because it’s, unfortunately, usually discussed of in terms of old school sexism. Truth is, we’re a product of our society, and our industry is no different. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s better.

    6
  61. 139

    I loved working as a web designer/developer in a predominantly male environment; it was fun and with much less ‘hormonal’ drama (I was the only female in my last office, an IT office, and now I work w/ 3 women who aren’t designers/developers since I’m in a media relations/ marketing office- a huge difference! I could get much more done without all the drama.)

    There certainly is that “prove yourself” inner drive, but I usually find that depends on the personality and whether or not the man was raised right or raised toward selfish disregard and disrespect. It’s all good, though, when I come across a male jerk – it produces more humility and kindness in me, which are virtues that can easily be ignored in this field…My gender frustrations tend to be with some clients actually, not co-workers.

    As far as female aspiring designers in the classroom- I wouldn’t worry too much about them after graduation. I think if you have a bent toward arts, design, photography, you’re going to end up expressing yourself in some way and finding work, childbearing or not. A lot of young women start out wanting to do something – graphic design, web design, photography, but they may shift into fabric design, knitting/sewing, scrapbooking, starting a business, etc., and even come back around again to what they originally set out to do… women are great multitaskers!!I I have four children and am 30 now. I used to stay up breastfeeding them and design, slice, and code after I would put them back in the crib. Then I had a sewing business, homeschooled, and now I work full-time as a designer/developer and they are in school. Point is – if a woman wants to do something, she’s going to do it, and her drive usually isn’t hindered by stereotypes or discrepancies.

    1
  62. 140

    Wow! Look at all this “Guys do everything better” and “Women are just as good as guys, if not better”-isms! Sheesh.

    I can only speak from a male perspective. We have only 1 other programmer, and he’s a guy. If we had a female on board, I would only judge her by what she was able to do and how good it is compared to what I can do.

    There is, undoubtedly, a male ego involved at most all times. But, having little confidence in myself, I have no issue saying that a woman can do things better than I. There are men and woman who can do what I do MUCH better, and there are men and women who can’t even do a fraction of what I do as well.

    Stereotypically, I think we’re programmed to believe that men are dominant programmers and analytical whereas woman are more in tuned to designs, colors and creativity. But there’s one thing that I’ve learned by adopting a belief of individuality; and that’s rules are meant to be broken.

    To think that a person cannot exceed in a career field based simply on their gender, to me, is the equivalent of saying “Those with an odd number of hairs on their head cannot do __________”.

    4
  63. 141

    Probably because they don’t have ovens in design studios. ;)

    -13
  64. 142

    My last firm was predominantly female but my department was heavily male, which was often brought up around the company. The female supervisors referred to our row of cubicles as “man-row” and “testoste-row.” Had it been the other way around, and it was men saying “este-row” or “fem-hallway,” there would have been immediate firings.

    When layoffs were in the fifth round and everyone let go from the department was male, and my turn came up, I argued with the female HR rep that it was obvious gender bias and many statements of “too many men” were in the department, the answer was, “our main customer is female” so it was “okay.”

    The fact is, now with most men gone, the department revenue slipped far downhill. Not because men were let go, but talented individuals. It is not male or female but talent and dedication. Gender, color, culture and creed does not guarantee talent.

    5
  65. 143

    From my personal experience (male), in all companies (mostly small “new” companies) I have been working with, female designers and programmers were engaged because of and thanks to their ability and performance. I think that if you are seriously looking for competence in a person to hire, you will be mature enough to disregard gender in your own interest. I would even go as far as to say that gender might not even be an issue in the creative field. In this profession you mostly rely on references and, judging by my experience, these truly speak for themselves. Keep up the good work and eventually you will find a job, regardless of your gender. After all the motivation to work and to achieve something always comes from the individual, not from the society, for which you are mostly just another grain of sand on the beach. I am located in Europe.

    1
  66. 144

    Well now I just feel odd.

    My college life went from Computing, to Computer Games Design (more advanced programming and maths), to 3D Animation, and now I’m in BA Interactive Media. In every class I’ve been in a huge minority; some cases being the only female.

    Most of my tutors are also male, but honestly that never bothered me. I think that, with everything else, people will go to the profession they like most (eventually, or they’ll be miserable). That said, the biggest ‘put down’ I get is that I’m too technical to be an artist.

    Go figure.

    2
  67. 145

    Interestingly, many females complain about working in the “male-dominated” field, but as a female myself, I am encountering yet another additional problem as an individual with hearing loss and oral communication barrier issues. I feel that I am having more of a problem as a deaf professional rather than as a female, and both of those issues double frustrations for people like myself. Many organizations are reluctant to hire people with disabilities due to having to provide them with accommodations, especially when it comes to providing communication accessibility to deaf and hard of hearing people. It is much harder for professionals with disabilities to get ahead in that field and get the same respect and same equality as non-disabled professionals.

    On top of having a difficulty being a deaf professional, I am also having a difficulty with web accessibility. Many talk about accessibility for users with vision and mobility difficulties, but very few if any mention about issues of accessibility for those with hearing difficulties – specifically captions and transcripts for an increasing number of videos and podcasts. This part is the hardest to explain to many website owners and web professionals, even those in the web “usability” and “accessibility” field.

    3
  68. 146

    Speaking as a nurse, I feel I can respond to this with some input. While attending nursing school, we had 2 males in our class of 50. They both dropped out, or didn’t pass their classes to move on, I’m not sure which. However, it was apparent that the women in the class “wanted it more” than the males did. Perhaps it was the societal pressure that it is wrong to be a man in a “women’s profession” but we don’t know because those students never finished.

    I have also been a patient many times in hospitals and let me tell you, of the few male nurses I had, they were excellent. They were never looked down upon by me or their co-workers and were oftened praised for their exceptional work. Now, perhaps this is because they had to prove themselves as worthy to be in the profession because they were male and it is an “odd” choice to want to do it. But, usually, the male nurses I had only desired to become a nurse after caring for someone close to them who had a serious illness, accident or the like. That driving desire to care for those in need does not care if you are male or female.

    Likewise, as a nurse, I worked in the operating rooms where surgeons are predominately male and it has, and is, referred as the “Good Ole Boy’s Club” due to that huge disparity. The women surgeons were few and far between, but tough as nails to “survive” being accepted into the GOBC. This, by far, does not mean they were without compassion, caring or not as good technically. In my experience, the women surgeons were more sympathetic, easier to work with and technically superb.

    The female to male ratio was discussed in nursing school and the women in class always wished more men were nurses for many reasons, but I always hoped for more male nurses just to get a male prespective on issues that we as women, can’t formulate no matter how close we are to our husband, sons, brothers or fathers because we were not raised as men.

    Regardless if you are a male or a female wanting to enter a profession that is dominated by the other sex, I think your desire to want to do that profession has to be strong to excel at the position or be accepted as a worthy employee in that profession based solely on your sex. Some people have the desire to do the job but don’t want to fight stereotypes everyday so they leave their dreams to find a position more accepting of them.

    1
  69. 147

    We have about 20 graphic designers and a third are female, I never bothered to calculate it before because gender never seemed to be a way to differentiate one GD from another, skills and ability has always been the clear (and obvious) difference.

    It’s sexist to think that a female could design better for female clients or that a male could design better for a male client. That’s like saying I can’t design a good interface for young children because i’m not a child.

    It’s sexist to get upset because an article written about gender issues was written by a male (or by a female for that matter).

    I think there must still be a lot of bigots in America, I cringe any time I watch American television someone uses the word “black” when they refer to their President. Perhaps that level of ignorance is why there’s such sexist comments here.

    “Before you can read me you gotta, Learn how to see me, I said,
    Free your mind and the rest will follow” – EN VOGUE

    0
    • 148

      It’s awesome that your workplace values skills over gender. However, I think you miss the point of the argument. The adult to child metaphor doesn’t fit.

      It’s not so much an argument of women can’t make a design targeted at a male demographic. It’s an argument that having fewer women in the workplace means you’re missing female perspective. It’s a subtle difference. We all approach the world differently, based on our experiences. Being a man changes the experiences you’ve had. It affects your perspective.

      It certainly does not mean that a man can’t design for women or women for men.

      1
  70. 149

    Melissa Thelemaque

    November 14, 2010 5:40 pm

    I support more male kindergarten teachers and male nurses. I support more female firefighters. (I’ve lived in Seattle and SF. I’ve seen plenty of them.)

    Let’s mix it up. Seriously. If you’re a dude, go work with ladies. If you’re a lady, go work with the dudes.

    3
  71. 150

    This is all based on statistics from “A list apart.” Their statistics do not distinguish between web designers, web developers and other related jobs. It is a worldwide survey, so people shouldn’t assume this lack of representation is typical in the US or wherever. Finally, it’s not clear what methods ALA used to gather the data (at least I couldn’t find it on their site). I’m not saying there is no discrimination, but this looks like a tempest in a teapot, to me.

    3
  72. 151

    I’ve observed the male vs female dynamic in my last few professional environments. Its been quite eye-opening.

    I spent over a year at an ad agency where the print Creative Director wielded a golf club in every meeting/creative review, which was subliminally threatening to most in attendance, male and female. This same CD was embarrassingly overt in his attentions to the very young females in the agency. When it came time for females to present their work or voice an opinion, he would cut them off or talk over them entirely. The females in the group eventually left, and it became a boy’s club run by hardcore male egos. Was interesting to see these male egos (in the print advertising group) try to take over the interactive group, too. Testosterone run amok.

    What I observed at that ad agency is a testament to Padron’s quote above, “The younger companies I’ve worked for have been quickly assembled teams comprised of the founder (usually a man) and the founder’s college friends (usually men as well) which leads to an environment of cronyism characterized by irresponsibility, in-jokes and testosterone. A perfect recipe for not only sexism, but also for sexual harassment.” That is absolutely true.

    In another small and young company, interviewees’ potential was weighted on their penchant for playing video games during work breaks and after work. We weren’t a video game company, but we did create interactive marketing around a few video games, among many other clients. Most girls aren’t into playing video games, so again, it was built to be more of a guy’s environment. The females were more often hired for, and gravitated towards receptionist, project manager, marketing… non-creative-talent roles.

    Currently as a consultant, I experience male dominance whereby the male art directors jockey to take ownership of (i.e. “muscle in” on) the user experience development and presentations. They verbally steamroll, talk over and again cut off input from myself and others. I see it project after project, client after client.
    Some agencies I’ve worked with are respectful and professional, but its a rare one-in-five average.

    Really, its not a question of whether males or females are better designers/developers/whatever. You’re either skilled or gifted, or not. There’s much more to being successful in today’s digital work environment:
    • Do you have a thick skin so you can live through/overlook the sexual harassment or other unfair occurrences that are inevitable?
    • Are you willing to steamroll others and fight to represent your discipline, or fight to present your ideas, even if it means you might be seen as a jerk?
    • Do you pay attention to how you socialize at the office and with all your coworkers? Be assured, someone is noticing if you do or don’t.
    • Are you aware that you have a job outside that of your job description? Its your unwritten job as an “employee” of your organization. Its much more than you ever thought, if you’re new to the professional world. In some companies, your bonus depends on it.

    So yes, there are gender discrepancies in the interactive/digital work world. Sometimes it is by design. Sometimes its just the result of management’s choices in other areas.

    And slightly off-topic, beware of working in an environment where the owners have hired their friends instead of the best talent they could find. Its a recipe for dysfunction that I have seen many times. You, the outsider, will never win over the “home team.”

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    • 152

      “Currently as a consultant, I experience male dominance whereby the male art directors jockey to take ownership of (i.e. “muscle in” on) the user experience development and presentations. They verbally steamroll, talk over and again cut off input from myself and others. I see it project after project, client after client.”

      I think this is a trait of many art directors, project managers etc. it’s about assuming creative control. I don’t think it matters what gender they are.

      0
    • 153

      RammaLamma, solid insight. Thank you for sharing.

      1
    • 154

      Contrary to popular belief among some women, the world doesn’t revolve around you. The CA doesn’t act that way in some magical conspiracy to make the workplace less-bearable for women.

      Men don’t act the way they act to make women’s life harder, more annoying etc… They act that way, because they act that way.

      In fact, roughly 90% of the complaints I hear from women, on how xyz treated her in this or that way… Its something that would have happened to her even if she were a man. In essence, she’s complaining that she’s being treated as an equal.

      The truth is, equality is here, and a lot (not all) women don’t like it… They don’t like facing the same hardships, rough tumble that men endure. In fact, they want their life made easier, by blaming hardships on gender… Truth is, equality is very hard to endure.

      If a girl growing up until 25 faced the same downfalls, challenges, criticisms and problems that an average boy faces going that same journey… She’d give up on life. In fact, when boys reach adolescence their suicide rate increases by (I think) something like a 1000% over girls. Don’t have the stat near me.

      The way women find business, life challenging is by comparing their life to either super-privileged rich guys, or to how life used to be when they were spoiled for being a girl. They never compare themselves to an average guy. That CA, I bet, interrupts the guys in that room just as much. I bet he ridicules and mocks and is a control freak around guys even more than around women. But the guys take it as part of the job, and some of the women cry “but i’m a woman!!! he shouldn’t treat me like that!”… And all I have to say to that is… welcome to the world of adults… Grow up.

      -6
  73. 155

    I’m a guy. So this subject area is automatically a minefield. A big one. I understand that it might be innacurate for me to comment on this subject.

    But I just don’t understand why it just can’t be accepted that perhaps men might be better in this field, in general, than women. There are of course a large percentage of women who excell in the field, and a hell of a lot more that are a better designer than I am.

    And no offense to you ladies, but this is just a hurdle to overcome. The same way if I wanted to be a nurse, or a child minder or something ultimately more important than a web designer then I might have to deal with similar obstacles.

    There is always going to be gender disparaty to this extent. Always. Because men and women are different. Different experiences. Different point of views. The same way that as a working class white male I can find it difficult to design to a predominantly affluent asian community, which is often the case.

    Maybe being here in England is just a better environment to work. Maybe we just get on with it.

    -6
  74. 156

    i think there’s some underlying preceptions

    for one, females tends to be more emotional..

    say a female designer on period, or just broke up w/ her boyfriend.. naturally other people will assume the work quality will be affected, or the finished quality not as expected..
    many bosses/employers/clients don’t want to risk that.

    fair to say there r many female designers out there has made it, but it will take some time..

    well, parents are another matter..

    -10
    • 157

      Are you serious? “More emotional”? Yeah, because men are rocks, never affected by anything… they don’t care if they have a bad break up or someone they care about dying. NOPE! They’re all like the Hulk — “HULK SMASH EMOTIONS!”

      Geez, I didn’t realize my pesky vagina got in the way of my work so much! My bad — career change time!

      Congrats for perfectly illustrating the problem we’re talking about.

      7
      • 158

        “Congrats for perfectly illustrating the problem we’re talking about.”

        So the problem is people stating facts?

        -8
        • 159

          Lol, what, are you actually contradicting the fact that men have emotions too and are affected by them NOT just women? Thanks for MANSPLAINING to me how my emotions work.

          Are you going to say that blacks are better at sports because they’re black? Or Asians are better at math because they’re Asian? Gays are more feminine/weak because they are gay? Women are more emotional because we are women is the same thing. No one is anything BECAUSE of something like gender, race or sexual orientation. We are products of our culture.

          Read. Learn. Or just …..

          http://jasperswardrobe.wordpress.com/2009/02/09/sexism-and-sexual-essentialism/

          Seriously. Your privilege is showing.

          http://www.derailingfordummies.com

          3
        • 160

          what “facts” are these? that women can’t/shouldn’t hold down jobs because sometimes they have their period? or that men apparently don’t have emotions like women?

          are you like from the fifties or something? did you arrive here in a time machine?

          your pseudo-science is hilarious at best and at worst, simply sad.

          imagine for a moment that you have a daughter, and that you have to look her in the eye and tell her that she can’t do certain things because she’s a girl. how sick is that?

          2
  75. 161

    It’s all about nature – ask psychologists.

    There are more women in print design because it’s the simpliest of all design disciplines. It requires less hard work at uni, less hours one-on-one with a computer, but more drawing and ‘expressing yourself’.

    When 3D, Web Developement demand to devote 4-5 years of your life to a computer screen only, ask for actual hard studying, capability to think.

    But that’s the thing we are not willing to do. Especially at age 22. We love live communication, men, families, sex, laugh etc etc. And we don’t want to exchange it for PHP5, 3dMax or math. It’s just to hard to comprehend for woman. Learning this stuff requires time that we are not ready to give away.

    As simple as that.

    -12
    • 162

      I disagree, print design involves a lot of geometry and math. Not to mention different trouble shooting when a printer doesn’t work, or the file doesn’t read, or fonts are lost, a magazine doesn’t export right. I spend 8plus hours daily at a computer screen, designing, “redesigning” and ensuring the files are the proper format for output.

      Your statement is very insulting.

      5
    • 163

      Maybe YOU’RE as “simple” as that, but I’m not.

      If you’re not willing to commit to a job that you’re SUPPOSED to be PASSIONATE about, then GTFO.

      2
    • 164

      Plenty of authors and research bare out what Anastasia says. Men and women do have different priorities, and most of the source of those priorities is biological.

      Men are found to prioritize wealth-creation at the expense of even health, sanity, friendships and family. Women prioritize spirituality, freedom and a balanced life.

      In fact… An interesting unintended experiment in a canada province showed this, when someone complained how it was unfair that hygienists (predominantly female) earn so much less than construction workers. So they passed a law where construction workers couldn’t make more money than hygienists… Guess what happened?

      All the construction workers quit, and became hygienists :D So much for “evil conspiracy to make women earn less”… Women prefered the easer and less risky job over money… The men were willing to risk their lifes and work much harder, just to earn a few more bucks. The moment that wasn’t possible, all the men quit :D

      So i’m sorry, there is no conspiracy to make women work less in certain careers. Men and women have different priorities. And different careers satisfy the different needs differently.

      -6
      • 165

        “Biological essentialism” aside (which is a tired and crap excuse for sexism, which I’ve heard many times before… my boobs don’t make me fear construction because of HARD WORK. I am all about DIY. But I get hollered at on the street by construction workers… THAT makes me fear taking up a job in construction work. PS. Look up cultural conditioning, mmk?) what I’m taking issue with is that Anastasia is under the impression that all women are like her… too stupid or too lazy to commit learning a program language… because we’re too busy with “men, families, sex, laugh”.

        Uhm, sex and men? SORRY, but I can balance both, I’m not a moron. Also, PLENTY of men are occupied with those very things, yet they have no problem doing work. Yes, some are workaholics, but so are some women. Working hard isn’t a factor of GENDER.

        By the way. I have a VERY fulfilling social life and I work as a designer/developer, but nothing will get in the way of something I am PASSIONATE about. Learning code isn’t hard. Showing women from an early age (see cultural conditioning again) that computers aren’t a boy’s toy is what will change this.

        I’m just disgusted that Anastasia seems to think that all women prioritize MEN and SEX over something she claims to passionate about. She does not (and should not) speak for all of us.

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  76. 166

    “To show interest” and “to dedicate yourself in” is different stuff.

    I think the answer is written at the beginning of the article :

    -« My audience for the session? Predominantly female. It seems the topic itself is more intriguing for women than men».

    - > While the women would be keeping themselves “intriguied” by the water (means : “blablablablabla”), the men … would be already swimming ! (and testing and tasting). At specy’s scale, i guess these are complementary behaviors.

    -5
  77. 167

    I remember that the orientation for graphic design at the University of Georgia had a turnout of around 5 to 1 males to females; however, the policy at UGA was that they had to accept 6 males and 6 females into the program every year. In my orientation there were 8 females (this was in 1998). You had to have a really good foundation to get accepted if you were a guy, and if you were a girl, chances are you would get accepted simply by turning in your portfolio. This would increase the chances that the program would churn out females who may not have the passion or drive to carry out design as their profession.

    3
    • 168

      “..the policy at UGA was that they had to accept 6 males and 6 females into the program every year..”

      Wow what a sexist institution, why can’t they see someone for their merits and no their gender. This is disgusting.

      3
  78. 169

    As a 57 year female designer/developer/sysadmin/programmer who has worked in IT for 30+ years, I do find it interesting that there are so few women in this field. But, that has baffled me for 30+ years. I can understand why there are few female video game designers but that is slanted – I really don’t get video games and would never imagine working in that arena.

    My issues at work were almost always with management. The other “techies” (almost always guys) never seemed to have a problem with me or my work — but the general workplace attitudes did. If a male stands his ground he is assertive or confident, if a female does the same, she’s a b* (don’t know if I can use that word for a female dog here).

    4
  79. 170

    I am a female Web Developer and while I do realize why portions of this article might rub some women the wrong way in terms of finding it offensive the reality of it is that regardless of whom finds it offensive/sexist/etc it rings a clear bell of truth. It has definitely sparked some interesting debates/comments.

    In my class of 18 individuals 3 were male, out of those 3 at least 1 continued work in the field successfully. So what happened to the women? A few of them were there looking for something to fill their time while they were planning to be a ‘stay at home mom’ so they could continue to contribute to generating income and some were there to learn something knew as they were bored with their current jobs; which in reality the likely hood of those individuals breaking into the field in a serious capacity was slim (there is nothing wrong with being a stay at home mom). Maybe 1-2 (excluding myself) out of the remaining women continued on and attempted to make their living in this profession, their downfall was the lack of desire/motivation/understanding/time to continue to keep up to date with web trends and standards despite the fact that they were excelling in a class setting. They continued to push out outdated coding methods and design practices. However I’m not saying that only women end up doing this, men do this as well. The point of the matter is how can we excel or be taken seriously in an industry if a majority of us continue on in the manner above and why would we be surprised or outraged by articles such as these based on those actions.

    It was also mentioned that there are few women role models in this industry and while that statement does appear to be true why does gender matter in a role model for this instance? I can easily say I want to aspire and to be like “such and such male developer” based solely on their achievements and skills just as easily as I could say that about a woman. The short of it is regardless of gender those individuals have worked hard and earned the right of ‘role model’ status, it’s not like it came easily to them overnight. Many women will argue that it’s easier for a man in this industry and that we have to fight harder to prove ourselves but quite frankly the well known and well regarded male designers/developers have also had to prove themselves. It’s not about gender it’s about skill and the determination and grit to keep up with trends and show you know your stuff.

    Some have brought up the point of being the in industry and being undervalued/sexually harassed/etc due to being in a male dominated environment. While this is a disgusting display of behavior quite frankly there are always going to be men out there that act that way and it’s doubtful they will ever change but that can happen in any industry or office setting.

    I for one, relish the awestruck look on men AND women’s faces when I explain what I do and prove how well I can do it. There is nothing more satisfying.

    The long and short of it is simple. Make the time, keep up to date, push the envelope, show your skills and gender will be irrelevant. If we can do that then the number of successful females in the industry will most likely rise.

    9
  80. 172

    I would like more female designers in the work place. Being male I would like to look at more females instead of dudes all the time. On the other hand I enjoy the “locker room” banter. Add a female and the whole dynamic changes. Not for the better.

    -10
  81. 173

    I seem to see many MORE WOMEN in the field of DESIGN than men. Now if “design” means web development, then this is not true—but web development is not design.

    in pure design, like graphic design or pure web design (someone else codes), again, I seem to have always seen many more women than men employed as “designers”…?

    1
    • 174

      I have to agree with Doug on this point. While Web design may be male dominated, other fields of design are decidedly female dominated. Print design, interior design, fashion design, and textile design all appear to be female dominated fields.

      I always assumed (perhaps falsely) that the coding aspects of the job limited the appeal for women. As someone who used to hire for Web development positions, I can tell you from experience that the applicant pool for developers was predominantly male. I really had to work to add women to our team. I found some great female developers, but it took a lot of work to find them.

      I’d be interested to know if the male/female ratio changes with job responsibility. If you looked at the following categories, would the ratio change?
      –Web design only
      –Web design + limited coding (HTML, CSS)
      –Web design + complete coding (HTML, CSS, Javascript, jQuery, etc)

      I ask this question because there are a lot fewer jobs for Web design without the coding. If the coding aspect of the job is the barrier for women, I would expect to see the male/female ratio increase with the coding requirement.

      3
  82. 175

    Many people have researched this… For example Warren Farell, Christina Hoff Sommers and Susan Pinker have written good books on this…

    But in the end, it comes down to that men and women have different priorities in life and make different sacrifices. Men would sacrifice sanity, balance, and friendships just to get a few more bucks here and there. Women would sacrifice a few bucks to have more time to network and build lasting, strong friendships.

    Those kind of choices and dynamics also explain gender differences in different career choices etc…

    This whole idea of trying to shove a square peg into a round hole, is just not working any more, and it will not work. Men and women are different, and by 2020 most people willl finally acknowledge that, mostly because the hardcore “its all societal” generation is dying off…

    The basic truth is, men and women have different priorities, different tendencies and values, and even though shaped and directed by society, at their core these differences, they have a very firm biological basis.

    -6
  83. 176

    Judging from how outdated and cluttered your current website, southgatecoins.com, looks – I’m going to have to assume that you haven’t been working with the most skilled web designers.

    2
  84. 177

    Chicks dig print.

    -3
  85. 178

    Women don’t like IT work because it bores them. When do you see women camping out for an iphone or talking about sql injection? NEVER…. What’s worse is people that stir up trouble by writing dumb articles like this.

    -11
    • 179

      maybe you just don’t hear girls talking about sql injection because they just don’t want talk to a nasty bigot like you.

      7
  86. 180

    “Gender considerations” are typically US focused (and mainly anglo-saxon) ; its’ again a question of .. speaking about their navel (means : bla bla bla bla. In french, we have this word to point it out : “papoter” – pa – pow – teh).

    Like a religion, that would say : i’m a female and i’m very very like a man, am i ?
    Just breeze and realize how much 1st- you sound ridiculous 2nd- your behaviour is like “activism” instead of “seeking the truth”. Just google “la pipe magritte” and you will undestand that you make a confusion between the country and the map.

    0
  87. 181

    I know that the only reason I hesitated going into web design was due to the idea that there would be a ton of math involved. I hated math in school and preferred english class.

    I agree with Amber’s comment – you need to be passionate to succeed in this field. Basically you need to be a geek about web design, but that’s completely achievable for both genders.

    1
  88. 182

    I beg to differ. In most place I worked, woman where in majority… even when I worked in the advertising department of an electronic retail-store. Most men I’ve where with where web designer or programmer, but print graphic designer where mostly woman.

    0
  89. 183

    I think I’ve noticed the disparity in the field for a long time. I have found that it is always more difficult for me to work with male customers than female customers as well. On more than one occasion, I have had males doubt my ability to handle their project. Yet, in a community of 25,000 people, sitting in the midst of an even larger rural market. I am one of only a handful of web designers. Most of us happen to be female, but I am the only one that does any kind of programming or database work. Because of this, I am flocked with work and try as I may, I can’t find skilled people in the area that can help me handle the work load.

    One other interesting side note: I teach part time at the local 2 year college. They offer a 2 year degree in Web Design. Although my classrooms are generally balanced, I notice that once my female students have to work their way through SQL and PHP classes, they have lost interest in making Web Development their career. By far, more of the students that are getting jobs right out of school are male. It’s unfortunate that so many women feel they can’t handle the technical realm.

    0
  90. 184

    As a man, who works in a “Boys Club” office. I can assure you we do our best here to keep women in our office, in positions they are best suited. There are several secretaries and and a few custodians, all women. They love their jobs! I don’t see what the big fuss is about? Men are just better at design. Maybe it’s for all the reasons you stated above, we’ve been trained our entire lives to design, think logically and problem solve, where as women are much better suited to make pies and wash clothes. We all have our strengths, and we’d be foolish as a society to abandon the heritage of a social dichotomy that has sustained itself for the better part of 2000 years. I’m all about being opened mind, but… Women? Designing MY website? Bitch, please.

    -8
  91. 185

    I’ve been a web designer for about 12-13 years, during that time I’ve worked in offices where I was the only woman and others where there were mostly women. Aside from the amount of giggling/swearing there wasn’t much difference in the quality or quantity of work produced.
    The company I work for has 3 web designers and several web developers and the projects are handed out mostly due to who’s got the capacity at the time, sometimes my boss chooses which designer he wants on a project but that’s to do with capabilities not gender (my male colleagues are just a likely to get the clothing or homewares sites as I am to get the powertools one) For example my projects are at the moment: lingerie, Infrastructure finance and health companies and my male colleague’s are; clothing, safety education and bedlinen.
    I have long blonde hair but don’t feel it’s made any difference to my employment ;)
    Mind you this is New Zealand the first country in the world to give women the vote maybe things are different here…

    0
  92. 186

    C’mon, women have periods. That’s the only difference I see.

    -2
  93. 187

    Honestly, I think one of the reasons why there are less women in the design/tech field is because people keep talking about the fact that there are. It just creates a bit of a stigma, that maybe women don’t want deal with. When I started out in this industry, I really didn’t know that there were more men working in it; but I think if I had read all these articles that have been floating around about the gender disparities in my chosen field, it might be (inadvertently) discouraging to me.

    I’m currently trying to find someone to fill a Front End Dev position at work and I haven’t received a single female applicant yet. I think if more women wanted to be in this field, they would be…

    3
  94. 188

    I’ve worked with many designers, both male and female, and am a designer myself. Over time I’ve developed the opinion that males in general are better than females in one aspect, and one aspect only, of design; they can keep their designs gender neutral.

    Of course I’m referring to when the design solution calls for a gender neutral design; many designs require a slant to a demographic that’s male or female. But when the solution demands neutral design, females seem to struggle to keep their gender out of it.

    A generalization, obviously. There are certainly stand out female designers far better than me and perfectly capable of designing gender neutral solutions. But the many who can’t outweigh the few who can.

    -5
  95. 189

    Why don’t you write an article showcasing great women designers instead of trying to downplay women’s role in the industry. There are tons of great women designers out there and the only way we’ll learn about them and be inspired by them is if they are showcased.

    6
  96. 191

    I don’t know about where your from Mr. Mindiola but in my city there is a 50/50 balance of men and women in the design field. In fact, the last 3 places I’ve worked it, there were more female designers than male.

    Perhaps there are disparities in some places but even with emotions and tension running high doesn’t mean women are vulnerable to there emotions. I’ve witnessed many male designers fall to a client lashing and or director lashing at that.

    Maybe there needs to be more women recognizing women in this field, but hey maybe we’re to busy working and being mothers/girlfriends/wives/role models to have to flaunt what we got and have to point out some small discrepancies in what we all do.

    0
  97. 192

    Ambassador of Awesome

    November 23, 2010 6:19 pm

    I am a website/educational game designer and programmer. I am also a proud and visible queer poly femme. It is really interesting to see how surprised some guys are when I start asking them really specific questions about the things they are working on that shows that I have a higher level of technical knowledge (and interest!) than they had previously assumed. It still surprises me when they send me emails telling me things like that I can use some basic tool like Firebug to inspect CSS elements. It is really nice to be able to stay cool and calm and respond back in a shared language based on technical knowledge…and maybe, just maybe impress them a little bit and make them think twice before they assume that someone with long hair and lipstick doesn’t know her way around JQuery or video codecs, etc. Wait until they see the flash video mixer I programmed from scratch last night! ;)

    I think there are a couple of practical things anyone can do to help this be a better situation for everyone. First of all, don’t assume anything about anyone’s background – how does that saying go…ah yes, “when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me”, ha ha. Who knows, the person in question (male, female, trans, whatever [ummm...hate to have to mention this but male and female are NOT the only genders]) might be a total whiz at databases but know absolutely nothing about dealing with slicing up that Illustrator mockup for the interface. Or they might be a motion graphics guru that doesn’t know the first thing about how to build the software that they use everyday. The only thing you can assume is that everyone comes from a different set of life experiences and whatever talents they have are to be discovered by you through observation and –> whoa –> direct questions! You can ask someone “Say, have you ever worked with xyz in context “abc”?” and most people would be happy to answer that question honestly if it is asked in a respectful way. Another thing that is really important is listening. If some people have been trained into thinking that nobody listens to them, it is harder and harder for them to speak up. Give everyone a fair chance to talk. I can’t tell you how many times someone (male, almost always, in my case) has started to talk right over of me in a meeting when I am making a strong point. Sometimes they will even finish my sentence and claim the idea as their own. This is incredibly disrespectful and only encourages people to hide their talent and unique voice. It also makes the interrupter look like a jerk, and it’s funny how many of my workplace’s clients are women…who always seem to quietly notice these things and end up wanting to work directly with me later ;) When someone speaks, you gotta listen…and ask questions to clarify if you need more information to understand or if you think it is interesting. Show respect through your body language and tone of voice. Seems pretty basic, but manners go a long way to getting and giving respect, which not only helps everyone grow professionally, but it looks great to your clients when they see such an effective team in action. Another thing people can do is reinforce positive behaviour with compliments. She did a great job on that stylesheet? That virtual tour? That eye-tracking robot? Compliment her. In front of everyone. Once. And specifically about how clever it is, not how cute it is. Specific and positive reinforcement rocks everyone’s world and does so much to make a person feel like part of the team. Oh yeah, and gender-split Xmas parties are really uncool.

    Oh and a few unsourced stats to consider…since it seems to me that a lot of women move into the administrative and project management roles in tech companies, wouldn’t it be a smart move to make them allies when they are starting out? They may very well be your boss in a couple of years. And about all of that mother/nature/nurture stuff…and interesting tidbit is that in general, the more a woman is educated, the fewer children they have. I know that sounds kind of weird…but it’s true, even Google says so, ha ha. Really, what I’m trying to say with this is that if a woman has educated herself enough to work in these kinds of jobs, you 110% can’t assume that she also wants to have children. Lots of women do it all, and that is an incredibly strong and passionate choice, but I have 0% will to have children. Ever. Assuming we all want the same things from our lives because we happen to have been born XX is just silly and makes you seem like a bit of a dinosaur brain in terms of progressive thought.

    To end my rant, I will close by saying that we all create the cultures that we, and other people, live in. Be active in creating the world you want to see around you, because other people sure are, and if you continue to live in a world of assumptions, you will be eating your own dust when the girl next door blinds you with science! Wouldn’t you rather have her on your team than you looking like a small-minded judgmental fool trapped in a world of representations based on corporate TV and video games…and foolish people who are blind to the potential of diversity? The future is only going to get more and more fragmented and individualized in terms of both gender identity and technical expertise areas, so it’s time to accept things at face value and work toward making space around you for the benefits of harmonized and respectful diversity.

    1
  98. 193

    As a woman I don’t feel held back by society at all. Growing up my dad insisted that I learned math. When I was a little girl I was frustrated by this. I didn’t get why he wanted me to learn math so badly. I understand now why.

    I’m a woman. I was born in 1983. My bf who is a programmer himself, he is only three years older than I am, encourages me to know as much about technology as possible. He’s always encouraging me to be my best.

    He knows I’m interested in graphic design and encourages me to always learn as much as possible. I think the design field is pretty well mixed. I agree with Anna in that it would’ve been better to have showcased female designers.

    I like to play video games, I like graphic design, illustration, and I’m still feminine. I like to wear makeup and hang out with my girl friends. I think you can have the best of both worlds. These days women can do anything and so can men too. ;)

    2
  99. 194

    This is a very interesting topic indeed. As a woman in the industry you have to show that you have tough skin. I’ve had many an employer or client “feel bad” for criticizing my work. I’m a professional, I’m not going to throw a fit or go sit in a corner and cry if you hate a concept or design. I love constructive criticism of my work, it’s the only way to make myself better at what I do. Secondly, you have to be able to show you belong in a male dominated office. I worked at EA Sports as a UI designer for a while. During my interview they point blank asked me how I would feel if I was the only female on my team. I basically said that I was not intimidated and that good design work crosses any gender barriers and that I’m confident to put my work up against any male’s work in the studio. Now, I do enjoy video games and sports so I had a lot in common with my co-workers to begin with and as a former member of the US military, I’ve endured as more gender discrimination than anyone in an office could throw at me. I think as the more and more females graduate and get working in the industry you’ll start to see the tides change, as the males who currently dominate the industry retire or become so inundated with female applicants you’ll start to see a changing of the guard and see more females take a foothold in the industry.

    1
  100. 195

    Yes, chefs and designers are quite similar. They are male dominated at workplace and at home it’s the madam-in-charge who wears the related hat!

    0
  101. 196

    My God, the comments here are interesting! Great article.

    My opinion?
    If I want to stay in the design field (I’m a web and graphic designer) – I cannot relay on the knowledge I gained in school. Keeping up with technology, new languages and design elements are important, and must be done AFTER work.

    Do I get time after work? as a mom with a husband that works late – NO.
    The guys at work? YES.

    = Men get more up-to-date with all the above which does make them more qualified to the next work place…

    0
    • 197

      Lady, you. You don’t speak for every woman who is working out there. There are men who have kids and families too. I’ve spoken to Creative Directors who happen to men and their biggest priority was raising their families. Why is it that women are perceived as the only ones with family responsibility? It’s sexist, no matter how you slice it. Thanks for not contributing to the real issue at hand. This isn’t just an issue with the design field, this is a reflection of a bigger problem in the work field.

      0

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