…in a world where even Design Week fails the equality test

There are, indeed, many excellent women designers, plenty at a senior level, but very few at the top (Comment, DW 13 December).

When I look across the design business, both now and over the past 20 years, the famous names are virtually all men. Women are not as driven to get recognition and kudos for their work – this could be due to a lack of desire for attention or just a lack of confidence in a male-dominated industry. The men we hear about are incredibly focused on being the best and the most creative.

Men will drive a concept through, in the full belief that it is the best. Women, typically, won’t – we will often weigh up practicalities first, which can prevent a great concept being seen, and we’re also more likely to be swayed if questioned. A man will push that idea forward, regardless of practicalities and worry about details later. You could call this egotism, but perhaps you need that to make a name for yourself.

Just being very good at your job is not enough – you have to make sure everyone knows about it and men have always been much better at doing that.

I wonder whether it goes back to the old cliché of women multitasking. Men who want to succeed are pretty single-minded. Women weigh up all the issues, and worry about their home life – and whether they’re too fat/old/big-bummed, of course.

I’ve spent more than 20 years in the design business, many of those years as a partner of one of London’s best-known consultancies, Carter Wong Tomlin, and sat on D&AD’s executive committee – also dominated by men – for three years.

I left CWT in December and there has been no mention in your magazine about this, but you ran a big piece on a CDT Design partner – a man – leaving. Maybe Design Week sees women working in the design business as less than newsworthy?

Are we just not interesting enough for you?

Alison Tomlin, by e-mail

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