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Hi there, I'm an industrial/product design student at Tesside University, England.

I am currently in my final year and for my dissertation have chosen to answer the following question: 'To what extent does gender affect design?' Within the context of the piece, I will discuss reasons to why there are a lack of female product designers, even though overall the number of designers is vastly increasing.
I am also looking into the genders of products, whether they be made for a male or female. I am going to investigate ways in which companies aim at either sex.

I would appreciate any influence on this that you may know of. Do you yourself feel that current products are a true reflection of the needs of women? Are the stereotypes that are used such as the use of colours something that irritates? Or do you feel that products are effective in their design? Do you like the look of "female" objects? Do you want more objects to be feminised or do you feel unisexing would be more appropriate? Sorry for the vast amount of questions, but I would appreciate your input.

Thanks a lot,

Matt.

Matt,

In general, I think that every person probably designs differently - regardless of gender. Because we live in a more or less gendered society, I'm sure that there are certain instincts that men and women have as a result of their gendered conditioning. But, I think the larger question is whom are they designing for? A good designer would be able to get beyond their own instincts and look at this -- and thus the question of gendered design would emerge more in the product being designed.

I have seen a few things that might be of help to you -- one, is the Dallas Women's Museum, in Dallas, TX, which does have an exhibit on products designed by women and most of these do come out of their own experiences. Also, the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York City, a design museum, does several exhibits a year and always seems to have some lense to gender. Also, a group of architects a few years ago did a contest on designing a female space and that was entirely different from conventional design, but some were designed by women and some by men. I remember there was an article in the NY Times reporting on this.

And Ms. Magazine about 6 years ago did a story on famous buildings designed by women -- housing projects in Paris, a sports arena in Miami, and thus the article talked about the differences.

I hope that helps,

- Amy