This “Female” Designer’s Take on Gender


Let’s get this fact out of the way for good: everyone selected for your awesome project should have an awesome portfolio, without any unqualified candidates just to fill a diversity quota. Does anyone ever want this any other way? Ick, what a gross thing to consider. But it’s not the point. The point that Dylan & GOOD keep making is that you don’t have to do it in the first place. Has the internet not taught us how vast and deep the creative world is? There are ALREADY plenty of talented creative minorities out there with the work you are looking for. If you are having trouble finding any, then you need to switch tactics, build your network, and keep looking. No really, it’s that simple. Keep looking, full stop. You will have to work harder; they don’t call us minorities because we are commonplace. But that’s okay, you love work, otherwise you wouldn’t be a designer curating that awesome project you started in the first place.

Secondly, all types of minorities get slighted in some way. Discrimination is going to happen because these groups are not the running the status quo. That is the shit-kicker of life, it ain’t fair just like your momma said. I don’t like it anymore than you do and it’s not an excuse to let it lie either. The fact this gender-bias topic keeps resurfacing is proof that enough folks see an obvious rift here. I also think it’s interesting that I’ve yet to come across a lady designer who dismisses these claims either. It’s just dudes who are starting the conversation and doing the decrying simultaneously. Telling, no?

To be honest, I’ll thank you for standing up and saying something, guys. If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard much from the females on the subject, it’s because doing so makes the work about something else, when we ladies just want it to be about the work, 100%. Plus, it’s passé these days to be “out” as a feminist if you’re a woman. We are seen as men-hating, a bitch, or a spinster if one of us stands up and makes a fuss. Thanks to our bra-burning senoritas in the 60’s and Working Girl in the 80s, it’s as if this part of our history is in closed books, and we should be lucky it’s even come this far. But look no further than this incredibly smart piece by James Chartrand for evidence that we are not quite there yet.

Let’s start anew and enlist the perspective of our transgender friends. I think their voice is key in this conversation since they are the only people who have gotten to live in both gender worlds. I’m also loving the support that Tina Fey, Kristin Wiig, and Amy Poehler are getting these days for dispensing that ridiculous notion that women aren’t funny. The arts are the best way to break down cultural barriers and as designers we hold immense power to create change for all marginalized peoples. It’s clear we have to keep talking, keep pushing, keep working together. And thank goodness we get to have the internet our as most immediate tool. I don’t know what I would do without it, or without you, my network and community. Let’s just all be best friends forevs and make rad stuff together, ok?


Image by Nicole Lavelle.

4 Comments This “Female” Designer’s Take on Gender

  1. Katie June 21, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    You have so many great things to say, and I really appreciate your contribution to this discussion, especially when so many people are condemning the original article and pretending like the problem isn’t there. I also think it’s important that we recognize that sexism in design isn’t just an equally talented woman losing a job to a man (or vise versa); it’s also valuing a masculine aesthetic while prescribing a feminine aesthetic as other, or only assigning women to projects targeted at women, or expecting a woman to adopt traditionally masculine qualities in order to get noticed. You are one smart lady and I applaud you. Thank you!

  2. s. bakr June 21, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    Great comment Katie, pointing out the prevalence of the masculine aesthetic is very important. Honestly when you see the style of work prevalent in a lot of these curated group projects it all becomes a bit visually homogenous.

    I think a lot of people missed the point from the Good article which called to EXPAND networks, not go full on affirmative action. When I first joined twitter I tried to network with fellow designers but ran into this boys club mentality so this article was spot on to me. You see the same bunch of names being included in the curated projects because they’re all friends.

    The current crop of ‘IT’ male designers do a great job of promoting each other and helping each other gain exposure, so for a lot of these designers to be dismissive about this issue and say they don’t see ‘race or gender’ is really maddening, short-sighted and frankly ignorant.

    There is a privileged mentality going around and just because it hasn’t been THEIR experience doesn’t mean they can be dismissive about it and say it doesn’t exist.

  3. Margot Harrington June 21, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    Hear, hear! What excellent comments.

    We need a “do better project” to set this new theory in motion a la Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project….

    WHO’S IN?

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