Where are the women?

alexfjelldal's picture

I've got the impression there are hardly any women using typohile. This impresssion is only based on the nicknames and on the few profiles I've looked at.

– Is the gender ratio on this website the same as in the "real life" world of typography?
– If women are underrepresented, why?
– If women are underrepresented, what can be done to adjust the ratio? How would the typographic community benefit from this?

I think more female discussion participants would help calm down the competitiveness sometimes emerging in the forums.

Stephen Coles's picture

There are certainly more male graphic designers, but the most dramatic gap is between the numbers of men and women in type design. There are probably fewer than fifty women who have created commercial fonts. Women are not scarce in calligraphy and lettering classes, and the number in type design programs at Reading and KABK are all far greater than those who become font makers. No one has adequately explained to me why this is.

dan_reynolds's picture

There are certainly more male graphic designers

Stepen, I don't think that is true. It used to be true, but I doubt that this is still the case.

Maybe men just like to boast more?

Geoff Riding's picture

> There are certainly more male graphic designers.

> It used to be true, but I doubt that this is still the case.

I absolutely agree, when I did my degree in design, the ratio of women to men was around 3:1! I think things has definitely changed in the past decade or two as with everything else.

dan_reynolds's picture

I studied graphic design in both the US and in Germany. In both countries, the male:female student ratio was 1:3. This was very recent, though.

Frightening was the teaching staff ratio. In the states, there were female professors, but not as many as there were men. Where I was was studying in Germany, there were no female professors in the design department at all, despite the department having recently hired several new professors, and the student body ratio. (I think that this might have improved though in the year that I've been out…).

I can't speak to the working environments back home in the States anymore. In Germany at the moment, lots of designers are graduationg and not getting jobs for a long time. Many of these graduates start working freelance, or try to found their own studios (out of desperation?). Since there are more female and male gradutes, it seems like there are more women not entering the workforce… but demographics play some role here. The average German design graduate is not 21 but about 28–32, I'd say. Some women opt straight for motherhood once their studies are complete. Some of these women who become mothers will, if the impression from the past decade is to be believed, never enter the design workforce at all, other than in a part-time/freelance capacity.

Still, since there are so many new female designers in comparison with males, there should still be more women getting new jobs than men, even if you factor in possible career and life choices.

andreas's picture

Maybe it has something to do with the nature of type design. Its like model railroading - very focusing with a long pedantic breath.

--astype.de--

George Horton's picture

I think more female discussion participants would help calm down the competitiveness sometimes emerging in the forums.
In the presence of the fair ones, gentlemen should hold their tongues? A chivalrous sentiment, but not now universal.

Kadiya's picture

There are women here using Typophile , but I know that I use Typophile for information - what's new that I may want to check out, where people see trends, what typeface pairings people like since I am not an expert at these things.

Lately, there have been a couple of posts that have rather discouraged me from posting lest I end up in an argument I had not intended - not posts that says women aren't welcome or anything, but posts that are openly derisive of people and their situations, questions, issues. (George is so right on this one.)

paul d hunt's picture

they have their own forum for alphabetties.

Search is your friend: I had the same question almost 2 years ago now:
Women in type? and the full thread with all moderators' comments (Read this one)

alexfjelldal's picture

In the presence of the fair ones, gentlemen should hold their tongues? A chivalrous sentiment, but not now universal.

My intention is not to protect anyone, Lady or Gentleman, from harsh discussions. I have worked in both all-men and all-women environments, and I must say, neither is an advantage. Reading some of the forums/threads on Typophile, I recognise the "male" patterns. These discussions evolve in a direction of who's right and who's wrong, and that's not very interesting, if you ask me.

Saying this, I find most discussions here very interesting. And I can not point to specific threads, this is just a general notion.

Paul Cutler's picture

quote - These discussions evolve in a direction of who’s right and who’s wrong, and that’s not very interesting, if you ask me.
Saying this, I find most discussions here very interesting.

You can't have it both ways alex, to quote an old overused saying. :)

Thought comes from all directions…

peace

claes's picture

at my school there are 4 girls to every guy in the graphic design classes, so even if it's more males in the business now, that certainly should change soon.

hrant's picture

> openly derisive

So women prefer being covertly derisive? :-)

--

In my type design class, 5 out of 7 students are women. And I actually think that's typical of graphic design as a whole these days. On the other hand, while the women seem to go on to become professional graphic designers, they don't do the same with type design. My explanation is that women have more sense.

hhp

dezcom's picture

Yes, type design is such a lucrative profession--it even pays less than being a school teacher. :-)

I do think most young people going into design these days are women. Perhaps the next generation will bring more women to type design.

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

help calm down the competitiveness

Alex, what would you do if most times you got in a discussion on Typophile someone joined in and started dissing your work or where you lived?

mandy's picture

Maybe it has something to do with the perceived technical nature of type design? I double-majored as an undergraduate, getting degrees in both English Lit and Physics simultaneously (though I work as a designer these days). My English classes were 70% female, while my Physics classes were 70% male (at a university that was circa 60% female overall). I had a chance to observe the stereotypes that members of each discipline held for the other. Male physicists often characterized literary criticism as a wishy-washy field, lacking any real rigor or organization. But the lit girls thought physics was all about crunching numbers and complicated math, stuff that was basically meaningless to their lives. They assumed physics was inaccessible, even though they'd never really been exposed to it. When a field seems innately technical, it generally appeals better to men; when it seems organic or humanistic, it generally attracts more women. At least, that's what I've observed.

Paul Cutler's picture

All attempts at broad brushstrokes will ultimately be proven futile…

Unless you're a calligrapher or painter. :)

peace

hrant's picture

> what would you do if ...

Throw primadonna hissy-fits?
"Respect me, and using only my concept of respect,
or I'll cut some ears off... starting with mine!"

Nick, it's not you, it's me: when I see somebody
say something too wrong, I have to counter it.
Well, maybe it's partly you as well, since you
exhibit the lion's share of what [I think] is wrong.

Now, if you need to keep pushing this thead in the
direction of macho-wars (which I assure you is mostly
one-sided) and reply to this (probably with something
passive-aggressively caustic) go ahead, and I'll gladly
let you have the last word (as I've been doing often).
Or maybe you'll allow yourself to look better by not
doing so. Your own behaviour is really only up to you.

hhp

alexfjelldal's picture

Alex, what would you do...

I hope I wouldn't start dissing their work or where they lived.

lore's picture

I studied Graphic Design in the UK and (unfortunately for me)it had a big emphasis on advertising and I tell you, it's a male world and I'm talking about the worst kind: the mysogenous, power thirsty patronising tosser which looks at you with contempt everytime you open your mouth... I think editorial design environments are usually more balanced. In my short experience at typophile I find 90% of the discussions fine and helpful ....the discussion I posted about gays show that some still have a little problem with diversity...but nothing very upsetting really.

George Horton's picture

patronising tosser
mysogenous, from musos + genein = 'filth-producing'.

NigellaL's picture

well i'm here, but i'm not a type designer so i guess that doesn't help... i like type a whole lot though!!! anyway, isn't it a bit of a disservice to the women doing great work in graphic deisgn and type design to complain that there aren't any women around?

fontplayer's picture

My explanation is that women have more sense.

This rings of truth.

alexfjelldal's picture

>anyway, isn’t it a bit of a disservice to the women doing great work in graphic deisgn and type design to complain that there aren’t any women around?

I'm not complaining that there aren't any woman around, I know there are. I was just wondering if they are underrepresented in this forum. If so, it could mean that a disproportionate amount of female graphic/type designers are excluded from the networking going on this website.

hrant's picture

> isn’t it a bit of a disservice to the women doing great work
> in graphic deisgn and type design to complain that there
> aren’t any women around?

Maybe he was complaining that there aren't
enough around. But really, is there ever? :-)

hhp

George Horton's picture

You're absolutely right: something should be done. If there's one thing in the world that I shall tolerate no longer, it's seeing woman after disproportionate woman being excluded from Typophile.

hrant's picture

I dunno, type designer women seem generally well-proportioned to me.

hhp

claes's picture

female type designers seem to be in short supply though, yes.. honestly, i can only name two prolific female type designers off the back of my hand and that's Zuzana Licko and Carol Twombly (of Trajan fame).

alexfjelldal's picture

ok, maybe disproportionate was the wrong word. Come on, it's not that easy being norwegian! I mean, all we get to eat is whale and reindeer. Maybe "off-balance" is the word I was looking for?

hrant's picture

> “off-balance”

Well, considering the crushing majority of them avoid type design
like the plague, that might in fact be an accurate description. ;-)

BTW, you know what I've been dying to have forever?
Dolphin. Where can a guy get a filet of one?

hhp

hankzane's picture

Yes, where are the women? Nobody wants me! Gah!

fontplayer's picture

I mean, all we get to eat is whale and reindeer.

I wish I had a catch-all excuse that good.

•Prakash Nair's picture

ugh...disgusting.

fontplayer's picture

BTW, you know what I’ve been dying to have forever? Dolphin. Where can a guy get a filet of one?

I wouldn't be surprised to find it in a sushi bar being called something else.

It's a good thing they don't like cold water or you could probably find it in Norway.
; )

antiphrasis's picture

I always try to buy my canned tuna with dolphin. ;-)

Diner's picture

Gents hold onto your seats, the sea of female designers will spill fourth like lemmings in about 2 years and rest assured some of them will become type designers . . .

How am I so confident? It's simple . . . Digital Scrapbooking . . .

That's secret code for Photoshop Art Director and I predict as the trend grows into a billion dollar industry like it's paper and scissors counterpart the fallout of a relaxing hobby for the female scrappin' set will become a sea of very capable female Phoshop designers who will realize there is very little difference between designing cute album pages of Rover the pooch and a website or brochure for a fortune 500 company . . .

Nobody sees this and it's sure to hit the design world over the head . . .

Mark this post! You read it here first!

Stuart :D

fontplayer's picture

Mark this post! You read it here first!

Did you come up with that? That is very astute. I believe it,
and will remember...
: )

lore's picture

self censored

hrant's picture

> Get yourself a dictionary

Between a dictionary and a sense of humor I'll the latter any day...

hhp

George Horton's picture

Lorenza, I was imitating the patronising tosser of your post: I was teasing you. If the tosser dislikes you for your gender alone, he is a misogynist.

lore's picture

Thanx, not everyone has access to your priviledged education and maybe English is not my mother language and hrant, what do you have to do with that anyway? Bloody hell, what a bunch of pedantic arses you are! Hrant, serious: you talk a lot for someone that doesn't have ANYTHING to say. You are just there to post silly little meaningless comments on absolutely anything, maybe you don't have much work to do? career not going well? get a life, mate!

hrant's picture

> maybe English is not my mother language

It was my fourth.

--

Lorenza, come on, please take it easy.

hhp

lore's picture

Look: I'm working on only 5 projects and I don't have time to breathe, I check Typophile only every couple of days and usually for a good reason. I love these forums but it pisses me off that in order to find a useful comment I have to waste my precious time going through useless observations. I strongly recommend you (and Dennis if he's reading this) keep your contributions to a minimum in terms of quantity and try to raise the quality of your observations.
Back to work, now?

George Horton's picture

The pedantry you encounter, Lorenza, is actually a response to your thinking style: the listener, though he cannot openly insult you, must nonetheless recoil at it.

Nick Shinn's picture

Lorenza: what do you have to do with that anyway?
George: the listener ... must nonetheless recoil

Hmm, we might be getting somewhere.
Maybe women don't like chauvinists?
Hrant is the #1 poster and says what he likes about anything, regardless of people's sensitivities. George, don't be swayed by the dark side.

George Horton's picture

I have my own idea of the dark side/light side divide, so I'll be alright Nick.

fontplayer's picture

I strongly recommend you (and Dennis if he’s reading this) keep your contributions to a minimum in terms of quantity and try to raise the quality of your observations.

All my observations use only the freshest ingredients, and come with a money-back guarantee. A sense of humor is required for some of the esoteric allusions. I admit surprise that the brilliance of my contributions are not universally acknowledged, but I try not to let that dampen my spirits.
: )

hrant's picture

> I have to waste my precious time

My time is more precious than yours.

> Maybe women don’t like chauvinists?

Except I generally have no problem with women on these boards.
My main problem has always been with a very narrow demographic:
the middle-aged Anglo male. Think objectively why that's the case.

BTW, feel free to deliver warnings about the Dark Side, but I in
turn feel no need to counter that, since I'm confident that nobody
never ever wants to go the Whiny Side. BTW, women hate that.

hhp

hankzane's picture

I love these forums but it pisses me off that in order to find a useful comment I have to waste my precious time going through useless observations.

Yeah ... But how else would you get the bliss of discovering something?

Nick Shinn's picture

Except I generally have no problem with women on these boards.

But they might have a problem with guys who say stuff like "type designer women seem generally well-proportioned to me". Surely there is a sensitivity training course you could take in LA?

snowblink's picture

such a fascinating thread....I go to undergrad design school and this is a constant topic of discussion as the ration of women to men is often 15-17:1 as a single class may often have just one male in it, some none at all. In any case, that seems to be the general rule about design schools as of late.

I don't really know what that means—perhaps the scales will swing drastically within the next decade—perhaps not. At the same time, what does it matter?

I find that gender is much more of a broad gradient than it is a black and white definition. Anyway, it's all about categorization of body shapes and generalizations that don't really have anything to do with those letters that we fiddle with all day....right

except boys have cooties. hee.

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