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All the Ladies in the House say “Yeah”

Last night as I was browsing the roster of Speak Up authors I noticed to my surprise that Brook Lornston and Kris McCaddon, two of the three contributors I had assumed to be female, are in fact of the male persuasion. Which brings the grand total of female authors to one—the very talented Joy Olivia Miller—out of twelve. When I suggested to Armin that he recruit more women to write for Speak Up, he recruited me. Make that two out of thirteen.

You may sense a feminist screed coming on but that’s not where I’m going. Women designers are often less vocal on listservs and comment strings and other professional forums, and therefore maintain a lower profile. Lower profile equals less recognition. I’d love to use this opportunity to raise some profiles.

Who are some women designers whose work you admire? I myself work with four incredible women, award winners all, but since none of them have websites of their own they remain invisible to a forum like this one. Stephen Coles of Typographica mentioned Salt Lake City poster designer Leia Bell on my weblog a couple of months ago, and ever since I have received a small but steady stream of visitors who find my site when searching for her name. I’d like to get that going for some other talented women—and maybe even get them to join a discussion or two.

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ARCHIVE ID 1428 FILED UNDER Discussion
PUBLISHED ON Apr.15.2003 BY rebecca
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
rebecca’s comment is:

I'll start. How about Chloe Lum of Seripop?

(Chloe...that's a girl's name, right?) ; )

http://www.seripop.com/

On Apr.15.2003 at 05:56 PM
armin’s comment is:

Not to stop anybody from commenting, but we had a similar discussion about badass women not long ago.

Other than that, it's funny Rebecca approached me with that concern because I was thinking the same thing, that there was only one woman among the Speak Up authors. BTW, I'm not sexist or anything, I left my machismo back in Mexico.

Welcome Rebbeca, and I hope this encourages other women to speak up.

On Apr.15.2003 at 06:15 PM
rebecca’s comment is:

we had a similar discussion about badass women not long ago.

Cool. Any ideas on how to get some of those women talking on websites like this one? I'm interested in hearing from...well, whoever, but definitely young women, women who haven't yet hit it big, women starting their own businesses, etc.

On Apr.15.2003 at 06:31 PM
KM’s comment is:

I highly admire the work of Jennifer Sterling, Amy Franceschini, Milena Sadee and Margo Chase.

Rebecca: Yes, I know I have a woman's name. :)

On Apr.15.2003 at 07:27 PM
pk’s comment is:

laurie haycock-makela rocks my world so very very hard.

On Apr.15.2003 at 09:08 PM
Kevin Lo’s comment is:

Hey, seripop's our(Montréal's) local screenprinting house. Great to know that they're getting some recognition for thjeir great work. Seeing their work in the streets is half(well maybe a third) of the reason I stay in this city. Chloe is a girl, and quite a nice one at that! They're also in a great punk rock band called Da Bloody Gashes.

I'll try to get my girlfriend (who works with me) to post here and see if we can generate some momentum for the ladies in the house!

On Apr.15.2003 at 09:09 PM
brook’s comment is:

laurie demartino (c.s. anderson's wife) and sharon werner are a couple great ones local to minneapolis. jemma gura (kilter, prate) also resides in these parts, and her work is beautiful.

On Apr.16.2003 at 07:47 AM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

If I ever got around to finishing my profile/bio, you'd think I was a girl too. I'm not. :)

Anyway, I think Jessica Helfand is spectacular.

On Apr.16.2003 at 08:52 AM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

Oh, how could I forget?

On Apr.16.2003 at 08:54 AM
rebecca’s comment is:

I'll try to get my girlfriend (who works with me) to post here and see if we can generate some momentum for the ladies in the house!

yeah!!

On Apr.16.2003 at 09:23 AM
Sam’s comment is:

Maybe we can expand from the earlier discussion about specific women designers and look at a more general issue. For example, what are the differences between women and men designers? This question could cover both the business/negotiating/client list side of the job, as well as the creative side. Is it possible to describe differences without simplistic stereotypes? Are the differences even important? By differences, I mean how does being male or female come out in the differences of work or practice of different designers.

Good work is good work, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation. But all good work is not the same, nor made by the same kinds of people.

On Apr.16.2003 at 09:32 AM
Joy Olivia Miller’s comment is:

Rebecca's introduction and Sam's comments intrigue me.

Had I noticed that I was the only woman listed as a contributor before? Absolutely.

Did it shock me or make me feel uncomfortable? No.

Would I like to see more women post? Sure. The growing "differences" in the make-up of our group -- from what I've observed -- has led to even better discussions. I'm more interested participating in a dialogue with members who will challenge me to question the way I think about design problems and theories than I am of necessarily chatting with more women. (Does this make sense?)

Do I ever feel that my opinions and interests don't necessarily always mess with those of the majority of the Speak Up community? Occassionally.

Is it because I'm a woman? Of course not. I know that not everyone here has an affinity for Adobe Garamond secrets, Web sites with hot pink text (that one is for you, Armin), and circular designs reminiscent of F.L. Wright's Midway Garden designs.

So welcome Rebecca! Thanks for spurring an interesting debate. And, thank you to my new favorite design philosopher whose post ended with what was probably the most profound statement on the diversity of this forum... so much so that it merits repeating:

Good work is good work, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation. But all good work is not the same, nor made by the same kinds of people.
On Apr.16.2003 at 10:10 AM
Amy Ruth’s comment is:

The latest issue of Sound Collector magazine has an interview with the woman who has my dream job (OK, one of my 15 or so dream jobs other than the one I have which is, despite the way I feel today {zombie-ish} fairly dreamy): Susan Archie, CD packaging designer for Revenant Records. She did the famous (in my circle of record geeks anyway) Charley Patton box set. She's probably way too cool but I hope to meet her some time when I'm back down in Atlanta.

Other women designers I admire include the nameless (to me), incredibly friendly, cheerful young women who were working at Hatch Show Print when I visited last summer. Have I seen their work? No, but I admire them nonetheless for the sheer fabulousness of the lives they have worked out for themselves (spending the day surrounded by type and a couple of small critters).

Also Shari DeGraw who runs the University of Iowa Center for the Book Fine Press (Empyrean?). I also visited her last year and was most impressed.

On Apr.16.2003 at 10:15 AM
armin’s comment is:

>For example, what are the differences between women and men designers?

I'm not sure if it's because we know who is designing what, but I think it is very apparent when a design is done by women or men. It sounds stupid, and redundant, but design by women is more femenine and design by men is more masculine. For example, VSA's work is extremely masculine and it so happens that all the partners are male and the environment at that firm is very macho oriented. Then look at Margo Chase's work or Sharon Werner's, it's definitely more feminine. And I don't mean that they design with pinks and we design with blues. But the fact remains that women and men have different sensibilities (and I don't mean sensibilities in terms of feelings) towards design.

>Are the differences even important?

I think they are important if the clients know what kind of design they want. Harley Davidson is not going to approach Red Canoe (who do some amazing work btw) to do their Annual report.

How it affects business? Well, it's a male dominated society (which sucks) so I guess it's easier for men to get work. Don't me ask me why, I didn't set the rules.

On Apr.16.2003 at 10:16 AM
rebecca’s comment is:

I'm more interested participating in a dialogue with members who will challenge me to question the way I think about design problems and theories than I am of necessarily chatting with more women. (Does this make sense?)

Hey Joy. It does make sense. But for one reason or another, there are way more men chatting than women, even though women are well-represented in the field. I think it would be great if more women could challenge and be challenged in a forum like this.

I'm not sure if it's because we know who is designing what, but I think it is very apparent when a design is done by women or men.

Show and Tell? Guess the Gender?

On Apr.16.2003 at 10:27 AM
Sam’s comment is:

As always, it depends. I don't think the gender-identification holds up as well if you look at Jennifer Sterling's work and Steve Tolleson's. Then again, they worked together for a time. Is Sharrie Brooks' work more feminine than Bob Dinetz's--both designers at Cahan and Associates? I dunno. What is feminine? what is masculine? A sense of scale? A color palette? Type choice? I would like to know so that I could, if needed, do both styles as best suited to the project. Call it, uh, hermaphrosign.

On Apr.16.2003 at 10:42 AM
Nick Finck’s comment is:

Women designers are often less vocal on listservs and comment strings and other professional forums, and therefore maintain a lower profile. Lower profile equals less recognition. I'd love to use this opportunity to raise some profiles.

I am sorry but I totally disagree with that statement. I know about an equal number of females in this industry as I do males. I know for a fact that women do speak out in forums, list serves and so forth. There are plenty of sites out there for women on the web, google it, there are even local groups of women in nearly every major city. In fact, I would go so far as to say that of the most well-known and recogized people in this industry that I have meet, 75% of them are women.

Let me list a few resources:

Phenomenal Women on the Web

SF WOW

Wise Women

POW

WDG

AWID

KWVDA

Powagirrrls

and there is a whole list here:

SoapBoxGirls

and here

Women in Design

...if that's not enough ask me about the staff on my community magazine and how many roles are often filled be women.

- Nick

On Apr.16.2003 at 02:15 PM
rebecca’s comment is:

Nick's right: there are tons of great women in the industry and many resources for them to network with one another. (It was cool of you to list some of them, thanks). In my field, book design, women are very well represented in all levels of seniority, which suggests that women have been well recognized in the field for decades. But in the comments pages of Speak Up, Typographica, Typophile and other non-gender-specific forums, most of the posts are from guys. It just seems curious in an industry that I perceive as diverse, tolerant, and encouraging of different voices.

On Apr.16.2003 at 03:23 PM
armin’s comment is:

>Call it, uh, hermaphrosign.

Nice one Sam.

On Apr.16.2003 at 04:47 PM
Ian’s comment is:

and nice use of hot pink.

On Apr.17.2003 at 09:28 AM
Ian’s comment is:

Oop... http://www.heroshomework.com/

On Apr.17.2003 at 09:30 AM
Ben’s comment is:

A couple of thoughts:

It's interesting how many women there are in this industry that are not mentioned or heard of. I know that my graduating class of designers was about 75% female. Right now I work at a firm that is all women except me. Is the explanation as simple as "Male dominated society" or is the answer more complicated then that? Is is just men who need their egos stroked by press or does the press bias their coverage towards men?

On female/male differences in design: I don't think that one can say female designer or male designer by looking at a piece. I think one can say that this is a more masculine (strong color and type) style and a more feminine (softer type and color) style: however I don't belive that one gender or the other controls those styles. I know plenty of women who have a more "masculine style" and plenty of men who have a more "feminine style". And, besides, these styles really only fall into classic stereotypes of what is male and what is female. So I think that it is hard to say from looking at a piece. As Sam said, "But all good work is not the same, nor made by the same kinds of people."

On Apr.17.2003 at 10:04 AM
Natasha Alexandra’s comment is:

Hi! I think this is my first post here, Kevin has requested that I put in my 2 cents. Appologies for the disjointedness and length:

I personally don't usually contribute to chat boards on design. One thing that really gets to me is how taboo it is to discuss politics on chat boards about design. I feel very strongly about the intrinsic link between graphic design and politics. I have posted on threads about design at altsense but the conversations there are often disrupted by very silly people who come on just to push peoples buttons.

The other thing that happens is that people get very hotheaded when their views are challenged. This makes constructive discussion very difficult.

I have no idea why women in general are less represented on chat boards. Perhaps it's the same sort of intimidation that some women experience when taking programming, and computer science courses? The language of the internet, and even the computer itself is very agressive (target, crash, load, webmaster), much like the language of print (trap, choke, bleed, punch cut) and are in tone more masculine than feminine. But that's probably not the reason either. It's probably a combination of a million different things.

What is feminine? what is masculine? A sense of scale? A color palette? Type choice?

Something interesting happened to me when I went to a job interview recently for a tshirt print design job. The guy told me that he likes my work because it's not feminine or masculine. It's sort of neutral/ambiguous. I wonder if this would have come up if I was a guy?

On Apr.18.2003 at 12:26 PM
JZ’s comment is:

Amy Francescini of Futurefarmers.

On Apr.18.2003 at 12:27 PM
Sam’s comment is:

>> the nameless (to me), incredibly friendly, cheerful young women who were working at Hatch Show Print when I visited last summer.

Amy, I met those women too! I was there last June and met the Gill sisters: Casey and Jenny. What a coincidental name to have! They're mentioned in the Hatch Show Print book from Chronicle. I still have a gi-normous crush on Casey from the 2 1/2 hours I spent there. If anybody knows her, please tell her I am available for more conversations about type and/or marriage.

On Apr.18.2003 at 01:33 PM
rebecca’s comment is:

Natasha, thanks for your comment. For future reference I've been pleasantly surprised by the constructive tone of the conversations on Speak Up, especially considering how political some of the subject matter can be. I hope you'll contribute again.

On Apr.18.2003 at 03:17 PM
Dan’s comment is:

I saw Micheal Rock and Susan Sellers of 2x4 do a presentation this year, and they told a related story. It went something like this:

When 2x4 was starting out, they noticed a pattern that kept coming up when meeting with clients: the client would want to talk with Susan about color and Michael about money. In an effort to be progressive and combat this blatant sexism, they tried to turn it around; Susan was put in charge of talking with the client about money, and Michael was the color guy. The problem, they said (half-jokingly), was that they ended up doing projects with bad color for no money.

Just thought I'd mention it because I thought it was kind of interesting.

(Semi-related to this post: does anybody know 2x4's url? I saw their site once, but haven't been able to find them since.)

On Apr.19.2003 at 07:40 PM
armin’s comment is:

2x4.

On Apr.19.2003 at 08:04 PM
Amy Ruth’s comment is:

Sam said: "Amy, I met those women too! I was there last June and met the Gill sisters: Casey and Jenny. What a coincidental name to have! They're mentioned in the Hatch Show Print book from Chronicle. I still have a gi-normous crush on Casey from the 2 1/2 hours I spent there. If anybody knows her, please tell her I am available for more conversations about type and/or marriage."

I have a crush on their lifestyles. Maybe this is a gender-specific thing (who the hell knows) but I have found that a crush-like energy has often been a real motivating force for my design work. Years ago I visited a friend in Seattle who worked in the art dept. at Sub Pop. Seeing the incredibly cool (to me, the country-mouse outsider) work environment there, not to mention the smart work of Jeff Kleinsmith, gave me a contact high that left me feeling—well—like I had a crush. On Jeff Kleinsmith? No (not that he isn't worthy, I'm sure he is). On the work, the giant shelves full of books and magazines, the huge stacks of posters, the big windows looking out over Seattle? Definitely. And it's happened many times since (though the Seattle trip happened early in my "career" so it meant a lot to me).

Design crushes--the elixer of youth? I am looking forward to developing some new ones amongst the names put out in this thread.

Now, to add to the list, I've long admired the clean style and smart concepts of Ori Kometani at MIT. Her (I think I'm right here) colleagues Jean Wilcox and Jeannet Leendertse have also done some lovely books that I have admired over the years (back in school, before I was very aware of book design, I thought Lendeertse's design for Rosalind Krauss's The Optical Unconscious was very cool).

PS Sam, I have that Hatch book--I'll have to look for the Gills.

On May.07.2003 at 05:13 PM
Susan Archie’s comment is:

How about this one? I am mentioned above as the designer for Revenant's Charley Patton box set. I am a woman, and I am gay, so does that bring a new set of aesthetics to the game? I have a very strong male sensibility but a feminine work ethic. In my opinion the men I work l with have no (inner) need to finish the detail work. Now, I am not a sexist - I love men - my best friends are men - it just strikes me that most are great with concepts and ideas but when it comes down to finishing the 168 page book, they melt down. I work with all men all the time. I have one woman who works with me. It's really wild - the industry i have fallen into - old american roots - folk - is so male oriented - but it think that's why i am able to compete in the genre, because of my male sensibilities, but also i win because i am an intelligent gal, and I believe my girl-ness adds value.

I have never participated in a discussion session before - I was pointed to this chat by a google search trying to gauge my impact on the world and i was stunned to find my name being tossed about here. I live a totally sheltered life in my home office with no real exchange with the real world of designers and others in my field. But I did win a Grammy and I did make PRINT Magazine's interactive design annual - so I do have street cred. Then I see someone's dreaming about my job. Its wild.

Am i getting off subject here?

On Nov.04.2003 at 11:15 AM
Ginny ’s comment is:

I'm not sure if it's because we know who is designing what, but I think it is very apparent when a design is done by women or men. It sounds stupid, and redundant, but design by women is more femenine and design by men is more masculine.

I disagree with this wholeheartedly. For example, all of the flourishy design things in this website can be mistaken for a stereotypical "feminine" quality and I'm assuming it was designed by you, Armin? (I'm not bashing your design, I think it's very well done. I'm just trying to make a point.)

I don't think Paula Scher's work "looks" feminine? And last time I checked, she was a woman.

And speaking of feminine/masculine, define those words? Because personally, I don't know what that means anymore. How can we have an discussion about something that isn't clearly defined?

On Nov.04.2003 at 11:42 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> I'm assuming it was designed by you, Armin?

Yes. Also, when I showed the first sketch to my dad he did think it was kind of girly. I like to think of it as sophisticated´┐Ż a quality seldom attributed to dudes.

> And speaking of feminine/masculine, define those words? Because personally, I don't know what that means anymore.

There was this "test" regarding that question Ginny.

On Nov.04.2003 at 12:04 PM
PJ’s comment is:

The issue of male/female, masculine/feminine etc. has always been fascinating one for me. It's one I have explored quite a bit, although more so in my fine art work (such as this, this or more specifically this) than in my professional design work. Although I guess in working on a project for a client, if the personality of the company is more feminine or masculine, the design probably ends up reflecting that, though I don't really think of it that way. I look more at specific attributes - like whether they are warm+fuzzy or cool+reserved, inviting or aggressive, etc. All attributes that could be applied to masculine or feminine based on our concepts of gender.

One of my views on the matter is that sex and gender are completely different. Most people are born with a specific sex: either male or female. Gender, on the other hand, is a fluid identity that individuals have much more control over in choosing masculine or feminine traits. I'm using "masculine" to refer to the traits typically associated with males, based on common patterns of behavior, which of course are different in each person's experience. I have a longer version of this in this statement for one of my series, if you are interested.

I love Rebecca's test of gender. All of my gallery shows have been under the name "PJ Durgin-Bruce" specifically because it is gender indescript. One of the first reviews of a show of mine used the wrong pronoun when referring to me, which I found quite interesting that they didn't try to research or contact me, they just assumed. That they assumed wrong was somehow gratifying.

On Nov.04.2003 at 01:51 PM
rebecca’s comment is:

I completely agree with PJ. She really knows what she is talking about.

On Nov.04.2003 at 02:38 PM
Brent’s comment is:

I'm kind of shocked nobody has mentioned April Greiman in this or the other thread.

Either way I'd like to say Louise Fili (another unmentioned to my surprise) rings my bell so very well.

On Nov.05.2003 at 07:14 PM