Is There a Gender Gap Between Designers?

A female type designer, Verena Gerlach, recently brought up an interesting answer to the common question: where are the women in type design? Ms. Gerlach feels that the common explanation that type design is too technical to appeal to female designers is incorrect. Rather, she feels that societal issues such as upbringing and prejudice conspire to keep women out of more technical fields. Indeed, there seems to be no gender gap in talent. It’s easy to think offhand of outstanding female typeface designers—Zuzanna Licko and Jessica Hische come to mind—and some of the world’s most recognizable typefaces were created by women. However, the perceived gender gap is still present. Female designers seem to be under-represented in the more heavily technical and usually higher-paying design fields.

Is there are gender gap in modern design? Are female designers forced or encouraged by society to work in less prestigious fields? This is one of the biggest controversies in the contemporary design community. However, it seems that the gap is not so much in opportunity as in other aspects.

While female designers do not make up an even half of the design community, they are certainly present. The Google logo, one of the most recognizable designs on the globe, was designed by Ruth Kedar, who, as her name suggests, is indeed a woman. She is not an exception to the rule, but rather one of many talented and well-known female designers.

The real question is this one: does a shortage of female designers automatically suggest discrimination or even a lack of technical skill and talent? The answer is obviously no! There may be a gender gap when you look at numbers alone, but anyone familiar with the design field can see that the marketplace is open to all. There is no invisible clubhouse with a ‘No Girls Allowed’ sign.

Women and men may have some notable physical differences, and most of us are very happy that this is true. There are also trends that indicate important differences in the way men and women think and operate as social beings. However, talent is evenly distributed among the genders. Access to education and opportunities to enter higher-paying design fields are uniformly available as well (at least in the Western world).

Indeed, the prevalence of computers and internet design firms has created an almost discrimination-free environment. Whatever your gender, race, background, or nationality, your work is almost always the first thing that the design community sees. You are judged as a professional solely on the quality and originality of your products. As a result, design may actually be one of the most accepting fields because people are judged solely on the quality of their work.

There is one huge gap in the design community, however. That gap lies in talent, experience, and skill. In a planet inundated with marketing, good and bad design abound. The real separation between designers is in the quality of the end-product. A designer is a designer, good or bad, regardless of gender. Implying that women are not welcome in the top design fields will only increase friction and discourage talented female designers from expanding their careers.

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    One Response to “Is There a Gender Gap Between Designers?”

    1. Camilla Coertse says:

      Hi, Who is the author of this article?

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