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 Printing1
Gender disparities in the design field is a controversial as well as a complex topic. Image credit: Choichun Leung2

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 20093, 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 article4 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.

5
Google used to return the correction “Did You Mean: He Invented” for the search “she invented”. It generated a lot of buzz6 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,”7 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.com8: “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 thoughts9 and we’ll get back to you.

— Vitaly Friedman, Editor in Chief of Smashing Magazine

(sp) (rs) (ik) (vf)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.flickr.com/photos/seeminglee/3990108219/
  2. 2 http://www.flickr.com/photos/seeminglee/3990136105/in/photostream/
  3. 3 http://aneventapart.com/alasurvey2009/
  4. 4 http://fadtastic.net/2007/11/19/where-are-the-female-designers/
  5. 5 http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2007-05-24-n36.html
  6. 6 http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2007-05-24-n36.html
  7. 7 http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/thehumancondition/archive/2009/07/01/where-s-my-crazy-hot-guy-a-female-designer-on-women-and-video-games.aspx
  8. 8 http://www.zeldman.com/2007/04/19/women-in-web-design/
  9. 9 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/contact/

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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.

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  1. 1

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

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

    0
  2. 52

    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
  3. 103

    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
    • 154

      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
  4. 205

    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
    • 256

      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
  5. 307

    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
  6. 358

    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
  7. 409

    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

    -11
  8. 460

    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.

    7
  9. 511

    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
    • 562

      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.

      4
  10. 613

    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
  11. 664

    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
  12. 715

    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
  13. 766

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

    -13
  14. 817

    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
  15. 868

    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
  16. 919

    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
  17. 970

    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
  18. 1021

    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
  19. 1072

    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
    • 1123

      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
  20. 1174

    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
  21. 1225

    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
  22. 1276

    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.”

    5
    • 1327

      “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
    • 1378

      RammaLamma, solid insight. Thank you for sharing.

      1
    • 1429

      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.

      -7
  23. 1480

    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
  24. 1531

    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
    • 1582

      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
      • 1633

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

        So the problem is people stating facts?

        -8
        • 1684

          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
        • 1735

          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
  25. 1786

    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
    • 1837

      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.

      6
    • 1888

      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.

      3
    • 1939

      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
      • 1990

        “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.

        3
  26. 2041

    “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
  27. 2092

    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
    • 2143

      “..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
  28. 2194

    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
  29. 2245

    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
  30. 2347

    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
  31. 2398

    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
    • 2449

      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
  32. 2500

    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
  33. 2551

    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
  34. 2602

    Chicks dig print.

    -3
  35. 2653

    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
    • 2704

      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
  36. 2755

    “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
  37. 2806

    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
  38. 2857

    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
  39. 2908

    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
  40. 2959

    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
  41. 3010

    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
  42. 3061

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

    -2
  43. 3112

    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
  44. 3163

    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
  45. 3214

    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
  46. 3316

    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
  47. 3367

    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.

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  48. 3418

    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. ;)

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  49. 3469

    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.

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  50. 3520

    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!

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