Boys Design Cars and Girls Design Dolls? A Case Study on Occupational Segregation in Industrial Design

By Pinar Kaygan.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The availability of a broad range of industrial sectors in which industrial designers take place and contribute to various stages of product development process can be considered as an advantage for industrial design profession. While this diversity allows designers to find positions in various industries, it is obvious that there is a stereotypical differentiation between choices of designers depending on their genders.
The aim of this study is to examine how gender affects sectoral preferences of industrial design professionals which, in my opinion, demonstrates an example of occupational segregation. The empirical part of this study is conducted in Middle East Technical University, Department of Industrial Design with senior industrial design students attending the Graduation Project course. Analysing the findings of the interviews, this paper arrives at two main conclusions. Firstly, technological connotations, which are ascribed to every industrial sector at different levels, have a crucial role in identifying them with the masculine or the feminine and, thus, with the ‘suitable’ designer. As a result of this, women designers are concentrated around so called less-technological sectors, while men designers have a more homogeneous distribution over the whole industry – though they are associated mainly with technological sectors. Secondly, the interaction between various layers of the designer’s work such as industrial sectors, work environments and interdisciplinary relations is also influential on this segregation, since gender is articulated in all these layers.

Keywords: Gender, Industrial Design, Design Profession, Occupational Segregation, Interdisciplinary Work, Design in Turkey

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.153-164. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.184MB).

Pinar Kaygan

PhD Student, Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

Pınar Kaygan is a PhD student at the University of Sheffield, Department of Sociological Studies, UK. She acquired her B.I.D. from Middle East Technical University, Turkey in 2003. Until 2008 she worked as a product designer in various sectors; publishing, furniture, lighting and electronics. In this period, she also provided graphic and product design consultancy services to a wide range of companies. She has been holding a research assistant position in METU, Department of Industrial Design since January 2008. Her research interest includes gender in industrial design, technology and design and design profession in Turkey.


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