Do girls make better designers than boys?

There’s a discussion going on over on a LinkedIn thread called “Do girls make better designers than boys“. Not withstanding the use of the word “girls” and “boys” like this is some middle school dance, there’s a whole lot of sexist going on over there.

Here’s what I chimed in with:

I recently taught college-level web design courses to high school-age students and the makeup of the classes was about 23 males to 2 or 3 females. The school itself, however, was about 2:1 female to male, so clearly this was a lopsided classroom and un-representative of the student population. As much as I liked my students, the males were clearly dominating the class and often made the two or three female students clearly uncomfortable or alienated.

A lot of times it was just the subject matter they chose to design around or talk about (comic books, cars, other “guy stuff”), but more often than I cared to see it was because they were being subtly sexist. I eventually grew tired and worried of this and decided to hold a lecture on the role of women in the media by flipping the lecture — showcasing men in the media. By showing to the boys an admittedly small part of the industry, that because none of them had abs or strong upper bodies or high cheek bones, they’d have to be Photoshopped to make it into a magazine.

In the web industry, men dominate because of a slew of reasons, none the least of which is ignorance on the part of the men (to be clear, I am a guy). It takes effort to strike a balance when the tables are stacked the opposite direction. It takes a strong person — male or female — to make things right. Having a balance of men and women in an industry makes the industry better because it balances the needs and desires and subtleties of our client’s needs. You can’t tell me a team full of male web designers wouldn’t benefit from working with more women on a client’s site featuring say, a women’s magazine or a mommy blog or a purse boutique.

Since that comment there’s been all kinds of crazy, such as one guy positing what it’d be like if we “took the gays out of fashin (sic) design”.

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Justin Harter

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