Why aren't women working in design?

Why aren't women working in design?

New figures from the Office of National Statistics shows the number of women in design jobs has hardly grown over the past 14 years, remaining at just over 20 per cent

Design is involved in every aspect of life yet women make up not even a quarter of the design workforce, according to figures from the ONS. The Design Museum in London is keen to understand why and to help redress the balance.

New analysis by the Design Museum suggests women are under-represented in the UK design workforce. ONS figures show that as of March 2018 only 22 per cent of those working in occupations associated with design were women. This represents an increase of just four per cent since 2004, when 18 per cent were women.
 
At A-Level, girls currently make up almost 70 per cent of entrants for design-heavy subjects, but this uptake does not feed through to the design workforce where women continue to be in the minority.
 
Design-related jobs where women are underrepresented include architecture, civil engineering, town planning, software design, fashion and product design.
 
Women Design weekend
 
The Design Museum’s first high profile event to address gender representation in design took place on the 7- 8 December. ‘Women Design’ was a two-day programme of talks hosted by curator Libby Sellers featuring, among others, leading architects Farshid Moussavi and Odile Decq, graphic designers Marina Willer and Frith Kerr, urban sociologist Saskia Sassen, and a pre-recorded lecture by renowned American architect Denise Scott Brown.
 
This weekend also marked 100 years since the first UK general election in which women had the vote. The Women Design talks were intended to stimulate debate about the lack of gender diversity in the sector, and guests heard from emerging designers taking part in the Designers in Residence project, which for the first year has an exclusively female line up.
 
Designers in Residence
 
The programme is a core part of the Design Museum's activity, supporting new designers from any discipline with time and space away from their regular environment to reflect, research and consider new ways of developing their practice.
 
Museum Co-Director Alice Black says it's clear how far women still have to go to achieve parity in the workplace: 'The fact that the percentage of women working in the design workforce has remained virtually unchanged since 2004 shows a real failure to draw on all the talents out there and promote inclusiveness in our industry.
 
'We must take this moment to commit to work together to improve gender diversity in all sectors of the workforce. In the design industry, this means encouraging girls who take design-related subjects in schools to become product designers and civil engineers.
 
'At the museum we're committed to finding new ways to make women more visible in the design industry and inspire change, and I'm delighted we have a cohort of talented women designers in the Designers in Residence project this year.'
 
Design curator, writer and consultant Libby Sellers says it's easy to think things are better than they are: 'While we might think that women’s voices are echoing around the world right now through the Time's Up and #MeToo movements, in design publications, conferences, judging panels and other public realms, women designers tend to be outnumbered by their male counterparts.
 
'Whatever the rationale behind the gender bias, it has already eliminated or repressed an overwhelming majority of talent in the industry. To continue without championing a balance, would only encourage an impoverished future for design as a result.'
 
 
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