Voxpop: Women in design

Last week’s Parliamentary Design Group discussion on women in design revealed that half of Britain’s design consultancies are made up of just men. Do you think the design industry is overly male and, if so, why? Should anything be done to redress concerns?

If design consultancies make gender an issue in their recruitment processes, they’ll deservedly find themselves on the wrong side of an employment tribunal sooner or later. Perhaps those consultancies that operate family-friendly policies that enable them to retain their talented individuals could be encouraged to share them with the rest of the industry.

Deborah Dawton, Chief executive, Design Business Association (pictured)

I don’t think there is anything to be overly concerned about. It is important to look at where women in design are working. Many new business, marketing, PR, front of house and client services staff are female, filling important roles. And we have some outstanding female leaders, both in design consultancies and heading in-house departments. In a market economy, cream rises to the top – male or female. It is more important to focus on quality than quantity. And the UK is still streets ahead of many countries in terms of equality in this area.

Christine Losecaat, Creative industries advisor, Design Partners

To encourage a thriving design industry, we should attract and develop the best possible people into a range of roles. We need to ensure courses don’t alienate through language and course structure, allow flexible working arrangements and provide inspiring role models.

Emma Collins, Creative business consultant

Females make up 63 per cent of design students, but this reduces to less than 40 per cent. We think this is linked to age patterns and return to work issues, so we sponsored a Women in Design event in Parliament to launch a research initiative. Actions will be identified.

Christina Onesirosan-Martinez, Business development executive, Design Association

Diversity is an issue across the whole industry. But things are changing – different types of projects and clients will mean we need different types of people. This is an opportunity for women to use their skills and develop leading roles in the industry of the future.

Lesley Morris, Head of design skills, Design Council (pictured)

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