Sexism in design – it’s just not natural

I was shocked that Jim Davies, a male copywriter, could make such a sweeping judgment about female designers (Private View, DW 21 October). I would find it far more interesting to hear about the situation from a young female designer’s perspective.

’Women are blessed with a greater sense of proportion,’ Davies asserts – what a load of bollocks. I’ve worked with plenty of women who couldn’t be more obsessed with typefaces.

It’s not exactly a revelation that design is male-dominated – I work in a studio with six other guys and it’s completely unbalanced.

In the past I’ve worked at a large consultancy with all-male creative directors, and it was apparent female designers get sidelined unless they’re aggressive and loud. This is not something women may want to be or should have to be in order succeed.

I think the real problem is that there are too many male creative directors and most of them can’t nurture young female talent and end up bypassing young women in favour of men, as they simply find them easier to relate to.

This obviously isn’t the case across the board as there are some amazing female creative directors, but the fact I have never worked with any tells me that there are far too few.

I don’t think getting hired or being the ’best person for the job’ is the problem, as having worked on placement schemes with graduates I would say it’s pretty even in terms of talent between young women and men. To me, it’s what happens when they start working, and the bias they encounter in a male-dominated workplace that holds many women back.

I would like to see Davies try to tell Paula Scher that design is ’more appealing to the male psyche’.

I think an article on how to balance the inequalities in the design industry would be less vacuous. I expect to see a more intelligent, insightful point of view in Design Week.

Tim Williams, by e-mail

Perhaps there’s more than one answer to why design is still mainly a ’male thing’ (Private View, DW 21 October). Personally, I haven’t been able to find the answer to this question.

However, in my experience – in seven years, both as a freelance and a full-timer – I must say I agree with Jim Davies that not many women get to the ’top levels’ of design. And although I’ve never worked for any of the bigger consultancies, I’ve usually found that supervisors, head designers and design directors were men, with many female designers and production artists working beneath them.

I never really stopped to think about this because my main concern had always been why I personally was never considered for one of those really creative positions at a really cool design studio. I assume one of the main reasons would be that I have no big names in my portfolio, or ’they’ don’t think my creative style matches theirs (even though there were times when I really thought it would be a ’perfect match’). Perhaps my portfolio and presentation skills don’t show that, or I’m not good or interesting enough by their standards.

But back to the ’male thing’. I have seen portfolios of plenty of talented women designers, and I believe women have all the creativity, great ideas, work ethic, attention to detail, organisation, communication and computer skills needed. Yet they still seem to linger in the lower echelons of design. Maybe it is the ’kids and family’ thing, or because women might be less aggressive and obsessive than men. Perhaps women end up moving into less demanding roles – or maybe they give up trying to make it in a male- dominated environment, never getting a chance to really shine and show their potential?

Then again, there’s the ’eye of the beholder’ thing. And if the majority of ’judging panelists’ are men, then maybe they are inclined to go with the ’male creative style’, whatever that may be.

Lucia Rusinakova , by e-mail

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