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Dealing with “Women” Part I: The Rant

Over the past week a rather big deal has been made over the lack of women speakers in the 4th installment of the annual conference organized by Tokion magazine, Creativity Now. A week and a half before the conference was scheduled to begin, Tokion released its much-anticipated list of speakers and, to the “disgust” of some, it included absolutely no women in contrast to the abundance of white males. Jen Bekman from Personism, Sara and Marc Schiller of Wooster Collective and Grace Bonney of design*sponge have been at the forefront of the “scandal”. And, like with any cause, a cadre of supporters — in this case, upset creative bloggers — have joined the fray with veritable outrage. I, for one, find their argument and position upsettingly laughable.

After Bekman noticed the discrepancy, she asked on her blog if it was so “damn hard to find creative women to speak on panels?” To which Ken Miller, editor of Tokion magazine, replied with a list of the creatively prosperous women they had asked to participate but — that for any given reason — were unable to participate at the time and place where Creativity Now was to take place. This response was insufficient and non-pleasing for both Bekman and the Wooster Collective. The latter, wrote an open letter to the conference’s organizers, and urged its speakers and potential attendees to “withhold their participation”. They then suggested to Ken Miller — in a public e-mail exchange where Ken firmly, eloquently and convincingly stated his position on the matter, garnering him an invitation to sushi — that, given the lack of women speakers, they should have postponed the conference to a time where sufficient women speakers had been signed up. This latest position is not only selfish, but absurd, as anyone that has organized an event — in New York, no less — knows that you don’t “postpone” events, having made venue and sponsorship arrangements months, if not a year, in advance. The story, at least on WC’s end, is a happy one as they express how pleased they are that the conference would now include at least four women: Phew…Gender equality achieved! On Bekman’s end, a crusade to show how easy it is to come up with a long list of creative women is ongoing while demonstrating nothing on how to secure women for creative conferences or why it is important to have a balance of male and female speakers.

It is hard for me to fully word an argument without coming across as patronizing to women and, perhaps, insulting to those that have expressed their concern in this matter. But I just can’t understand how, in 2006, we are still having a “where are the women?” argument. It is my perception that we have come a long, long way to a point where we shouldn’t even have to worry about gender or race being equally represented. Aren’t we all equal by now? Or shouldn’t at least act like we are? Why, as women have gained more independence, power and notoriety and have done so in the same way as men — by working their asses off, because there is not other way to do it, really — do we have to come back to an argument that reflects nothing more than a big chip on someone’s shoulder? So what if there are no women? Would the Tokion conference implode in an unprecedented display of testosterone fueled by a bunch of guys scratching their balls, burping and leaving the toilet seat up? Seriously, when it comes to creativity, does it matter who’s it coming from? Should Tokion sacrifice putting the best speakers on stage to satisfy the ransom-like requests of a small group of people that have yet to define how the lack of women affects the outcome of the conference? Now that women serve as successful corporate executives and we have gotten that fight somewhat out of the way (or at least have come to an authoritative list), “creativity” seems to be the next frontier in gender unbalance and discrepancy.

This past March, Creativity magazine — as part of its year-long 20th anniversary celebration — compiled the “Creativity 50”, featuring the most influential creatives of the last two decades. You guessed it: All male. With the exception of Paula Scher being mentioned in the Pentagram entry. Bill Drentell observed that “the editors should be ashamed of themselves for not naming a single woman”. For AIGA it is a consistent concern to have women represented in conferences as well as local chapters and events and I have sat in planning sessions where a great roster of speakers has been proposed only to have someone say “we need women, though”. And when trying to celebrate women, things can easily backfire as STEP magazine found out last year with their “Women of Design” issue. Even we are prone: Three years ago, when we published our first Stop Being Sheep, Rebecca Gimenez, a Speak Up author at the time, questioned why Paula Scher and Debbie Millman were the only women included, while proceeding to question the lack of women overall in this web site. My equally intolerant response then and now, is that no one is stopping women from doing what they want and if no women surface to the top when putting together lists or conferences it is not anyone’s fault, no one is out to deploy the earth of those pesky, know-it-all women so that we men can claim to be the smartest, best-looking and most sweet-smelling. Yes, I have to resort to sarcasm because there is no other way to cope and respond to these pointless allegations of gender neglect.

For any woman ready to say that I have not experienced discrimination for being in the minority please let me point you to the fact that I’m Hispanic (with a thick accent), I am what some doctors might diagnose as overweight and I am not that tall: Word on the street is that tall, good looking, All-American men are bound to be much more successful than I, or you ladies, will ever be. Well, in the words of the Wooster Collective, Fuck that. I do what I need to do to get the good jobs and get my name in those lists and those conferences and represent the underrepresented chubby Hispanic designers; if I am not invited or do not get the job I do not cry foul. I just work harder and smarter. And everyone should worry about that alone and not about what is (or isn’t) between their legs as a limitation of their success and the value they might add to this conference in particular. To think like this is short-sighted.

For those that have publicly blasted Tokion for this gender faux pas I urge to analyze the realities of the world you live in… Yes, in general, there are more men that get the awards, and make the lists and get the big bucks. You can complain about it, write open letters and make lists or you can do something about it that actually enhances the position of women in these situations. And that can’t be achieved — at least in this realm of creativity — without doing, doing, doing and then doing some more, and doing it great and better than anyone else, over and over and again and again. There is no other way. Whether you pee standing up or sitting down.

Dealing with “Women” Part II: The Reckoning, will follow soon.

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ARCHIVE ID 2796 FILED UNDER Discussion
PUBLISHED ON Oct.17.2006 BY Armin
WITH 123 COMMENTS
Comments
jn’s comment is:

Here's my rant:

Tokion's Creativity Now conference was mind-numbingly boring --
a complete waste of time and money. I found it both pathetic
and depressing to hear the mundane war stories of all the dudes on stage. This "conference" was nothing more than a series of pooly scheduled/organized circle jerks. I went hoping to be inspired, and left thinking that the discourse among some of the worlds great talents was not unlike what one might find in an undergraduate foundations class -- or worse. The lowlight for me had to be Chris Johanson, who was about as eloquent as Mike Tyson on crack. The scariest part about this conference, however, was not that it failed on absolutely every level, but that some people were actually taking notes.

On Oct.17.2006 at 09:37 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

"It is my perception that we have come a long, long way to a point where we shouldn’t even have to worry about gender or race being equally represented. Aren’t we all equal by now?"

No.

On Oct.17.2006 at 09:44 AM
Armin’s comment is:

jn, a review of the conference and my "notes" will come in Part II. And without giving the farm away, I can say that I don't disagree with you at all.

On Oct.17.2006 at 09:45 AM
miss representation’s comment is:

Sigh. Here we go again. Next up, Armin tells blacks that slavery was a long time ago. And that none it was his fault, so everyone should all just get over it.

This post is a picture perfect example of why there shouldn't be design blogs, and why the critical commentary is so hard to come by in graphic design. See, when designers critique non designers about their lack of command of a the elemental tools, it often becomes difficult find a start place to invest one's time in comment.

Words and arguments are the same, but unfortunately, barriers to entry are so low, we have to listen to amazingly badly rendered drivel like this, and pretend it represents solid thinking. It doesn't. This site typically has well formed arguments some of the time. But not this time.

But I'm not doing it. Not again. The number of goddamn times I've had to go over this point with men over the past twenty years is the only tesitimony I'm giving, which is still more effort than Armin made.

On Oct.17.2006 at 10:02 AM
Derek’s comment is:

Holy crap, have you ever done any actual thinking about gender dynamics and how they work in your entire life? You miss the entire point. Patriarchy is not about a bunch of large, deliberate decisions by chuckling, cigar-smoking men in suits. It's the small decisions, subtle inclinations, unspoken (or perhaps more often spoken) feelings about women. It all adds up.

But according to you, we are living in a gender-neutral world in 2006. Which is why women, on average, still make 70% of their male counterparts in the same jobs. Which is why the 'rockstars' of graphic design (and basically most other fields) are still predominantly men. Which is why women's shelters are still full from men using their partners as punching bags. Are those the signs that "we are all equal"?

If fields of intellectual work like design, math, physics, engineering, and so on, are NOT stacked against women with men who don't want a bunch of pussies coming in and ruining their cock-fun (again, not as a written statement of principles, but as unconcious, implicit shared knwoledge), then the only other conclusion to draw is that women are actually, well, just stupider than men.

Frankly, the vitriol with which you write makes on think you have some sort of a chip on your shoulder.

"Word on the street is that tall, good looking, All-American men are bound to be much more successful than I, or you ladies, will ever be."

Maybe if you're talking about modelling. But creative and intellectual fields of work and study? Really - is that what you've heard on this street? Or are you constructing a straw man to try and shield yourself from criticism as a man who clearly has issues with women?

On Oct.17.2006 at 10:04 AM
r agrayspace’s comment is:

To say that the conference should move its dates so that some of its invited female speakers are able to attend is selfish and ridiculous. If none of the invited could manage to give the invitation serious enough consideration that they might move their schedules around to attend, then they obviously don't value the honor all that much and therefore should not complain and (others should not complain on their behalf).

But I must say to state that women just need to try harder to get on lists is equally ridiculous. Those lists are compiled by people, and like most people they have incredibly subjective opinions. And SHOCKER! Subjective opinions can often contain unfair and yes discriminatory biases. And when the consensus reveals an ugly pattern such as no women in a list of the top 50 creatives, something needs to be done.

The common, uncreative and overly-PC reaction of "well we NEED to just include at least one woman", I will agree is not productive and usefull. But we need to seriously reconsider the criteria for compiling such a list which has no female representatives, when females comprise over half of the population of working creatives.

It's not just an accident. It wasn't a random lottery fluke. Maybe no one intended for such a thing, but that's no fucking excuse.

On Oct.17.2006 at 10:11 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Miss R, care to share a Cliff's Notes version of your points?

***

And let me just say, not that this is an excuse or backtracking or anything like that: I very much questioned why I wrote this and why I decided to just go ahead and post it, knowing that this may be gratuitously inflammatory and one-sided. At some point I do have to take advantage of the blog's reputation.

***

> It's the small decisions, subtle inclinations, unspoken

So, in regards to this conference, you think that the organizers were subtly inclined to include no women from the beginning?

> But creative and intellectual fields of work and study? Really - is that what you've heard on this street?

Having recently worked on a project about obesity, it was shared by a reliable source that men with good lucks make more money and are more succesful.

> as a man who clearly has issues with women?

Sarcastic answer: Yes, clearly, I do.
Serioues answer: No, I don't.

On Oct.17.2006 at 10:16 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

"So, in regards to this conference, you think that the organizers were subtly inclined to include no women from the beginning?"

Armin, you're smashing two points together in your post.

Point 1: The conference invited women, none accepted, and now some bloggers are upset. I agree that that is an over-reaction to a relatively small non-issue.

Point 2: We live in a gender and race-neutral society in 2006. I think most of US society (as well as statistics) will disagree with you on that point.


On Oct.17.2006 at 10:23 AM
debbie millman’s comment is:

My dearest friend Armin:

I so fundamentally disagree with you that I don’t even know where to begin. So I will start by providing some statistics, taken from the U.S. Department of Labor, and very sorry, but no Cliff Notes were available for these stats:

• Among women, 45- to 54-year-olds had the highest
median weekly earnings ($609), followed closely by 55- to
64-year-olds ($601) and 35- to 44-year-olds ($590). Men’s
earnings were highest among 45- to 54-year-olds ($834) and
55- to 64-year-olds ($827). The difference between women’s
and men’s earnings was much larger among middle-aged
and older workers than it was among younger workers.

• Earnings differences between women and men were
widest for whites and Asians. White women earned 79 per-
cent as much as white men in 2003, and Asian women earned
78 percent as much as Asian men. Both black and Hispanic
women’s earnings were about 88 percent of their male coun-
terparts’ earnings.

• In both managerial and professional occupational
groups, women and men tend to work in different specific
occupations. In professional and related occupations, for
example, women were much less likely than men to be em-
ployed in some of the highest paying fields, such as engi-
neering and computer and mathematical occupations. In-
stead, women were more likely to work in lower paying
professions, such as education, training, and library occu-
pations.

• The ratio of women’s to men’s earnings varied by place
of residence, from a high of 95 percent in the District of
Columbia to a low of 65 percent in Wyoming. The differ-
ences among the States reflect, in part, variations in the oc-
cupational, industrial, and age composition of each State’s
labor force. In addition, sampling error for the State esti-
mates is considerably larger than it is for the national data;
thus, comparisons of State estimates should be made with
particular care.

• Just 5 percent of women earned $1,500 or more per
week, compared with 12 percent of men.

• Women who worked part time—that is, fewer than 35
hours per week—made up 25 percent of all female wage and
salary workers in 2003. In contrast, just 11 percent of men in
wage and salary jobs worked part time.

• About 63 percent of women and 57 percent of men
employed in wage and salary jobs were paid by the hour in
2003. Women in this category had median hourly earnings
of $10.08. This was 85 percent of the median for men ($11.89).

• About 4 percent of women who were paid hourly rates
in 2003 reported earnings equal to or less than the prevailing
Federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. The corresponding
share of men was 2 percent.

So, no, my friend Armin, discrimination is very much still in effecct in this country.

And now for a more personal insight, as reported by Bob Herbert in the New York Times.

This link asks a serious question about the recent shootings in Pennsylvania and Colorado. In it, he points out that in the recent shootings in schools, both in the Amish schoolhouse and the public school in Colorado, only girls were killed. A colleague of a dear friend of mine sent this out to her friends, and I will share it with you: "Imagine if a gunman had gone into a school, separated the kids upon the basis of race or religion, and then shot only the black kids. Or only the white kids. Or only the Jews...There would have been thunderous outrage. The country would have first recoiled in horror, and then mobilized in an effort to eradicate that kind of murderous bigotry. There would have been calls for action and reflection. And the attack would have been seen for what it really was: a hate crime."

So, NO, on soooo many levels, discrimination is alive and well and living in this country.

On Oct.17.2006 at 10:30 AM
Artie Fufkin’s comment is:

I agree that there is still individual racism and bigotry, but it will never be eradicated on an individual level. We are human and have our own biases and preferences. That will never change because that is what makes us individuals.

This kind of attack for equality on all counts will eventually remove all creativity. Look at all the PC stuff that is in our society. Do we all have to think and talk alike? That is where this type of thinking will take us.

I think women are strong enough to take it. Sometimes they won't be represented on a panel. Get over it.

++

"This link asks a serious question about the recent shootings in Pennsylvania and Colorado. In it, he points out that in the recent shootings in schools, both in the Amish schoolhouse and the public school in Colorado, only girls were killed... The country would have first recoiled in horror, and then mobilized in an effort to eradicate that kind of murderous bigotry"

So it would have been better if the killers equally chose from the sexes? These are individual crimes so it's not like there is some societal influence on who they chose for their victims. Please.

On Oct.17.2006 at 10:51 AM
justwondering’s comment is:

And to all the women complaining, what have you done to correct those inequalities other than complaining?

On Oct.17.2006 at 10:56 AM
miss representation’s comment is:

Nope. Not doing it. An old friend of mine had boundless energy, would sit down with any crank or wingnut at a bar who popped of a discriminatory comment, would build the foundation and walk him through the arugments. It was impressive. If we were at a bar or an opening, I'd bother. But I'm tired of educating and re-eduating people in print. I don't have the time.

Instead, maybe you could take the time to construct this scenario for us, instead of just commenting post hoc:

1. You posit that we are past the point where gender discrimination exists in design.

2. Women make up a major of the population.

3. A conference on contemporary design is organized and none of the majority is represented

How does this happen? You can argue from any bias: statistics (what is the likelihood of that? we were given a list of women who declined, but how many men were invited total, include declines, versus female invites), design ideology (conference was about X, and women are underrepresented in X; btw, X, in this case as 'creativity'), any particular point. But I want a solid, rigorous explanation of how this just happened.

On Oct.17.2006 at 11:04 AM
Bryony’s comment is:

I am a woman. I am a designer. I am a professional. And for the most part, I agree with Armin. Not only because I am married to him, believe me we discussed this subject for several hours (without coffee) exploring the many aspects of it.

It is true that racism and sexism continue to exist in the world, but this is not what Armin is really addressing. Rapes in Darfur, sexual slavery in India, child trafficking in South America have nothing to do with who is selected to participate in a design panel, on a chilly Saturday morning in New York. While we don’t find a 50-50 percentile of women vs. male designers today, the rate is balancing out. There are more women in top positions and in low positions today, than ever before, and it is up to them to stand out. In the same way that the men need to stand out. How many times do we have to see the same men on stage before we are bored? Are there no other men open to lecturing and capable of doing so? They need to be special in the same way a woman needs to be, and the only ones who can own that responsibility are each individual.

It is up to you to make it on a list by drawing attention to yourself for the right reasons, and it is up to you to live up to expectations.

More later, running into a meeting.

On Oct.17.2006 at 11:22 AM
DC1974’s comment is:

I'll take it up. Miss Representation:

How does this "just happen?"

I think it goes like this, men were planning this conference and have decided what is "cool." Tokion is about as boy-design crazy as I can imagine a magazine to be: it's all b-boy and j-pop and boy indie rock and graffiti -- an aesthetic of urban tastes that has been consistently defined by its male participants.

So the organizers (male) went looking for women that fit their aesthetic criteria (their male sense of cool) and the only can up with a handful. I can bet you know that those are women that have adopted the swagger of the patriarchy in order to fit into the urban cool aesthetic. And that list apparently was small because the club of urban cool has men as its gatekeepers.

And they didn't at any point decide that "hey, we don't have a broad enough perspective here" lets talk to some of the people outside our bubble about recruiting more women -- lets talk to Ellen Lupton or the Wooster Collective or Lorainne Wild or Louise Sandhaus or whomever about filling in the gabs in our boy-dominated perception of the world.

So of course it was a circle jerk, you don't invite "chicks" to one of those. It would defeat the purpose of creating a conference to reinforce our patriarchy.

That's how it "happens."

On Oct.17.2006 at 11:30 AM
miss representation’s comment is:

Clearly Mr. & Mrs. Armin think you ladies need to be puttin' out before puttin' up should you wants to climb that ladder. If any of you ladies need some practice, I'm right here to help.

Since we live is such an idealized meritocracy, can Armin then give us some insider insight as to why his peeps got asked to every damn AIGA event in the past ten years, even though they've produced, what, a handful of new or groundbreaking projects in that time -- what with five offices and how many staff, and that kind of rolodex? What's that about?

So maybe it's not about what is in your pants during that circle jerk, but it is the circle jerk itself that is the problem. Armin, what do you propose we do about that? I know your answer. Plant yourself in the center of the circle and wet the lips, brown up the nose.

RW: example and counter-example. One the gender side: edited a book with a somewhat prominent designer who said casually and regularly that women were inferior designers. Same design excised every mention of Pentagram from compendium because he was tired of seeing the name.

On Oct.17.2006 at 11:32 AM
tiffany’s comment is:

"It is my perception that we have come a long, long way to a point where we shouldn’t even have to worry about gender or race being equally represented."

So then why, why, *why* are speakers at conferences like these (and it happens in tech as well) almost exclusively male?

"Would the Tokion conference implode in an unprecedented display of testosterone fueled by a bunch of guys scratching their balls, burping and leaving the toilet seat up? Seriously, when it comes to creativity, does it matter who's it coming from?"

Actually, yes. But that has more to do with how men generally act...heh heh. Putting smart-assery aside: Yes, it does matter, and no where more than in industries that rely on creativity and design. Different kinds of people use things differently. They see and interpret things differently. They have different experiences that shape their aesthetic values or how they approach a problem. That is the core of design, no?

"Should Tokion sacrifice putting the best speakers on stage...?"

Aye, There's the rub. Define "best." How do you measure "best?" Who set the criteria that determined "best?" And how can *you* say it's "best" when according to Tokion's own response, "availability" was a huge determining factor in who landed on the roster?

Now a related question: What could Tokion have done *differently* to get women speakers? Ask further in advance? Offer on-site child care for speakers? Ask for referrals to rising women stars?

"...to satisfy the ransom-like requests of a small group of people..."

"Small group" should really be followed by "of vocal, visible women bloggers." But what of those dynamic minds that just opted out without protest because they find a panel of white men talking about their particular brand of "creativity" thoroughly uninteresting.

"...that have yet to define how the lack of women affects the outcome of the conference?"

Diversity begets diversity. Bring more women and people of color on stage, and you bring more women and people of color to your conference. A heterogenous audience is just a heck of a more interesting. In my experience, it leads to a far better conference experience -- one that brings people back next year. Seems clear and straightforward to me.

On Oct.17.2006 at 11:38 AM
Derek’s comment is:

Armin: So, in regards to this conference, you think that the organizers were subtly inclined to include no women from the beginning?

Not neccesarily - obviously they did invite a good list of women. But the big picture here is the entire industry - nay, society - from the education years on up. To comnat a sexist society, those with the power (men) need to make effort to level the playing field.

This particular conference as an example is probably better than most others in at least their efforts. But the tone and language in your article is REALLY what's at issue here.

... shared by a reliable source that men with good lucks make more money and are more succesful.

No doubt there is discrimination against obesity. Now, my friend, try going out there as an obese woman. Get it?

--

Artie: "I think women are strong enough to take it. Sometimes they won't be represented on a panel. Get over it."

I guess then men should do the same when they aren't reperesented on a panel.

Oh wait! They're ALWAYS represented on EVERY panel!

On Oct.17.2006 at 11:48 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> Clearly Mr. & Mrs. Armin think you ladies need to be puttin' out before puttin' up should you wants to climb that ladder.

I have no idea how what we have said (working hard) equals that (puttin' out).

> can Armin then give us some insider insight as to why his peeps got asked to every damn AIGA event in the past ten years, even though they've produced, what, a handful of new or groundbreaking projects in that time -- what with five offices and how many staff, and that kind of rolodex? What's that about?

I also have no idea what this discussion has anything to do with the work that Pentagram does. I would kindly ask that you leave that out of the discussion.

> Plant yourself in the center of the circle and wet the lips, brown up the nose.

Alright... Miss R, I'm sorry but your comments are going into strange territory and, like you, if we were in a bar I would respond, but right now, you lost me.

> A heterogenous audience is just a heck of a more interesting.

The audience was as diverse as I have seen in a long time.

On Oct.17.2006 at 11:53 AM
Marian Bantjes’s comment is:

I think it's been made clear that we are not living in a fully equal society ... and it also might be time for you to read Blink.

But here's why it's important to have a mix of gender and cultural representation at a conference:

It's more interesting. People do have and bring different perspectives based on their race or gender, which informs their experiences.

It speaks to the audience. I do, yes, feel disturbed and representationally left out when all the speakers at any given event are men. It surprises me to say this, because I too was once of the "gimme a break, it doesn't matter" ilk. My mother was a very active feminist in the 70s, and as a teenager I couldn't think of a topic more tedious. But still, I notice.

The reason that it is sometimes difficult to get women speakers is that not only are we still not equal, we have been fighting the climb to equality for a long time, and there are still not that many women (compared to men) in positions of authority. Years of bias have taught us the names of male designers; it takes extra work to them, those same women get bombarded with requests to donate their time and are sadly not available. The net needs to be cast wider. The thing about overcoming gender or racial biases is that you do have make an effort, lean hard on the other side, and take risks with people who have not yet had the opportunity to prove themselves.

Correcting bias doesn't happen by doing nothing and pretending it's not there.

And to all the women complaining, what have you done to correct those inequalities other than complaining?

Really good work, actually.

On Oct.17.2006 at 11:55 AM
Miss R’s comment is:

I also have no idea what this discussion has anything to do with the work that Pentagram does.

Why isn't that germane? Didn't you argue that it was women's responsibility to do whatever it takes to get invited to conferences? It would seem your experience might be helpful. Give a girl a hand, why dontcha?

So you first want us to accept gender never affects decision making in confernece selection, hiring, or other areas where distinction is possible, and now you want us to accept that where one works or who they are friends with doesn't make a difference either?

This is a wonderous merocratic world you describe; we should be so lucky you share your insights of it with the us rabble, who, clearly through nothing other than our inferiority, haven't ascended to its heights.

On Oct.17.2006 at 12:00 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

Oops, parto fo my post makes no sense:

"Years of bias have taught us the names of male designers; it takes extra work to them, those same women"

Shd be

"Years of bias have taught us the names of male designers; it takes extra work to think of the women, but then those same women get bombarded with requests ..."

On Oct.17.2006 at 12:02 PM
Keith McCord’s comment is:

"1. You posit that we are past the point where gender discrimination exists in design.

2. Women make up a major[ity] of the population.

3. A conference on contemporary design is organized and none of the majority is represented

...statistics (what is the likelihood of that? we were given a list of women who declined, but how many men were invited total, include declines, versus female invites), design ideology (conference was about X, and women are underrepresented in X"

One more statistic to consider is the male/female ratio in pool X (considering the balance in the job field, not just globally)...

On Oct.17.2006 at 12:34 PM
Artie Fufkin’s comment is:

Derek: "Oh wait! They're ALWAYS represented on EVERY panel!"

Well then some of the great women designers (or anyone of either sex) should put on a conference and not invite any men panelists. I bet it would be judged on it's quality, not that it didn't have men on the panel. Let's try that instead of coercing ourselves into a PC society. That is the opposite of creativity.

My point is the freedom for people to choose their panel (and also the freedom to complain and not attend). If the conference promoters didn't put enough effort into inviting or representing women, then they will fail in today's male and female marketplace of ideas.

I don't want everyone to be equal. I'm sorry, but there are many people better than me, and I don't want them dumbed down to my level.

On Oct.17.2006 at 12:48 PM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

There's no "they" to this. Women are (roughly) half our colleagues and peers, half our audience and our partners. Armin certainly opened a can of worms, but he's being honest enough to blurt it out. But I respectfully disagree.

I look at the artistic creativity of both men and women and I like to see it all. Not half. I don't see blue hats and pink hats. I see the work first, then, if at all - a name or gender. If not enough women post on Speak Up well, maybe that will change by example.

Has top level design become one big self-congratulating inbred boys club? Depressingly short sighted and territorial if it is. Must seem irritating to competant women designers to always be excluded or patronized, except for the annointed few. If it's changed up in the star-celebrity designer Pentagramworld Pantheon someone tell me differently. I don't have all the insights. Is it important? Yes and No.


On Oct.17.2006 at 01:23 PM
Miss R’s comment is:

Artie: interesting point about marketplace. I'd be curious, then, to see if you find the presumption of Armin's point to be offensive. Because there is a point at which where the free play of ideas gets commingled with institutional authority.

You point would seem to be that it's okay for the complaint -- free speech and all that. And equally free for them to not attend. For whatever reason.

The counter arguments from Armin and others is sort of 'pipe down ladies'. The question to the commenters here, and to him, is does he presume to speak with any authority beyond being another random blogger? Does his day job, his professional connections, and the likelihood that he might be making decisions about future panels, bring to bear more weight. That is, do people comment here and self-edit (aside from his explicit requests that we self-edit) because they fear future retribution or benefit from the process.

The 'pipe down gals' attitude then is far more telling and pernicious. I'm sure his answer is going to be a 'well, you have to trust me'. Which is funny, since there was the dust up wherein a bunch of designers wouldn't have lunch with the First Lady because they had a critique of power and it's missapplication in our goverment that was basically the very same argument.

But we don't hold that same standard in our own community. And no one thinks it's inappropriate that an arbiter of power tells us not to mention that he is specifically that. It's not Iraq, so don't go down the red herring road there. I'm talking about find a discourse that address power relations on micro and macro scalre. This is micro, but it is still relevant to the critique.

On Oct.17.2006 at 01:40 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Although I can’t disagree with Debbie’s conclusion, “discrimination is very much still in effect in this country,” her presentation of presumptive prima facie evidence is, in fact, prima facie evidence that she is not an economist. Tantalizing, interesting statistics left unexamined. . . too bad, because silly recitation of undigested statistics as political “facts” make it too easy to dismiss that whole subject.

I suspect that Armin’s too-easy dismissal was formed by equal parts disgust at silly arguments, an ultimate allegiance to the ideal of meritocracy, and belief that provocation will enliven Speak Up. While I embrace these formative bases, I would also be a fool to try to defend some of his overstatements.

But I really am confused by who is arguing what. Is the claim being made that there is an overt effort to dismiss female presenters at conferences? That those organizing conferences are ignoring females who are roughly equivalent to the males being presented because of unconscious bigotries or too-narrow social spheres? Or are we assuming nefarious activities based on undigested rough statistics (a la Debbie’s wage recitations) and find ourselves so outraged that actual understanding seems beside the point? (If the latter, this is, for me, just another nail in the coffin of designers’ being strategic thinkers worthy of a place at the proverbial table.)

Or is the argument that the nature of design conferences is problematic and that the under-representation of females is a symptom of a greater problem?

I’d also be interested in a thoughtful discussion of the ill effects of the overwhelmingly male presenter population. Is the big worry that graphic design stardom is being denied star-quality females? That we are getting a skewed version of graphic design from such conferences? That females will feel excluded from the graphic design business and [insert ill effect here]? That the idiot quoted as saying that females are inherently worse designers than are men will feel vindicated?

I hope nobody will be fool enough to assume that my queries are dismissive rhetorical questions. I am hoping to provoke a less polarized and more fruitful discussion. I’m afraid that enthymemes (arguments where at least one premise is not made explicit) only work when one has sufficient homogeneity that there is universal recognition of the unstated.

I sympathize with Ms. Missrepresentation’s frustration in feeling like the world should have caught up to her conversation but the sad truth is that we are not just failing to find the same page; we don’t seem to have bought the same book. Being clear about what someone is claiming can only be more productive than being abusive about the presumed faults of others in the conversation (unless one’s goal is merely to vent anger or to bolster that status quo.)

On Oct.17.2006 at 01:48 PM
robb agrayspace’s comment is:

Seriously this isn't that complicated. Does anybody agree with a list of the top 50 most creative professionals from the last 20 years not having a single female on it? Laughably riduculous and indefensible.

There is nothing OK with that.

It's like saying 50 years ago, "Black people just need to try harder. Or be less black".

This doesn't come down to whether or not you believe gender discrimination exists. It's pointless to even have that discussion.

It comes down whether or not you believe the majority has a responsibility to ensure fair representation of minority groups in the name of equality.

If you don't believe in that, there is nothing I can say to change it. But it aint right IMO.

On Oct.17.2006 at 01:56 PM
Miss R’s comment is:

I guess it's perversely germane to the conversation, but Miss R is a Mr.

misrepresentation
Miss Representation
M. R.
Mr.

That's not the entirety of the game, or the point. Just some of the background. I always presume that J. Hoberman used an initial as a political gesture. Never checked it out, but always admired it.

Most depressing: I got very little fan mail even when I was active, but about half were inquires from guys who were trying to confirm that I was a lady. Why? I can only guess.

And further clarification: I've met Armin, and he struck me as a far more considered and intelligent fella than what I saw in this post. And I'm friends with Jen Bekman.

On Oct.17.2006 at 02:09 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Gunnar, to your concern: My claim, which I probably could have wrapped in one sentence, is that neglecting and publicly bashing a conference about creativity (and its organizers) for its lack of women, despite their efforts to do so, is a backward-thinking proposition. Having attended the conference, there was inevitably a diverse range of point of views, the large majority coming from men. To claim that this diversity of point of views is unnateinable – and detrimental to the conference – without women holds little ground.

> It comes down whether or not you believe the majority has a responsibility to ensure fair representation of minority groups in the name of equality.

It's not that I disagree with that. The point I'm trying to make is that the "majority has a responsibility to ensure fair representation of the best [– in this case –] work and creative thinking, regardless of who is representing that work". Selecting work first based on gender or race, and second on quality is not conducive to yielding the best possible results. Whether the "best" comes from men or women is up to, as Miss R has pointed out, to the arbiters of taste and power. Speaking from personal experience, with the three Stop Being Sheeps, we select the best comments based on the comment and nothing else, if it so happens that the large majority are men, that will not stop me from publishing what I think, in my single and personal opinion, are the best comments.

If judging work by its quality as opposed to judging it by who created it is wrong, then, yes, I'm damn guilty.

On Oct.17.2006 at 02:11 PM
jim’s comment is:

"Aren’t we all equal by now?"

NO! Nor will we ever be.

People of any race or gender are not equal ever. We are all inherently inequal. What is important is that we create a society where we are treated equally UNDER THE LAW.

Is there any evidence or even any complaint that there has been systemic discrimination based upon an unrelated set of criteria? Discrimination, when related to the subject, IS GOOD.

If we want the best creatives we should look at creative talent, not gender. If you want the best creative talent you would discriminate against those who lack that talent.

Appropriate discrimination == good.
Inapproprate discrimination == problematic.

Is there any evidence that we have inappropriate discrimination?

On Oct.17.2006 at 02:28 PM
R Berger’s comment is:

Isn't it just because boys rule and girls are 'icky'?

On Oct.17.2006 at 02:33 PM
R Berger’s comment is:

Isn't it just because boys rule and girls are 'icky'?

On Oct.17.2006 at 02:34 PM
R Berger’s comment is:

and girls would never double-post

On Oct.17.2006 at 02:35 PM
Miss R’s comment is:

Dude, it was a conference on creativity that had Jason Lee speaking. You wanna go on record that he was the best (most creative) voice out there in the acting community? Er, the acting/skateboarding community. Okay, maybe that is a one-star/one-slot proposition.

Are you challenging us to see if we can name, slot by slot, a better example of women who might have been more interesting on purely creative terms? Do you really think that Patrick McMullan is the best and brightest we have? A star fucker?

On Oct.17.2006 at 02:41 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> Are you challenging us to see if we can name, slot by slot, a better example of women who might have been more interesting on purely creative terms?

Nope. The list on Personism is already doing that.

> Dude, it was a conference on creativity that had Jason Lee speaking.

I agree that the 4th Creativity Now conference that took place this past weekend is not the best example in my favor.

On Oct.17.2006 at 02:54 PM
Su’s comment is:

[a probably incomplete point]
Armin: neglecting and publicly bashing a conference about creativity (and its organizers) for its lack of women, despite their efforts to do so

Actually, not quite. It seems that nobody stopped for a moment and said, "Hey, we noticed you don't have any women on the panels. What up with that?" (Note my exposure to this came primarily through Wooster; I don't know if the other people did.)

"Despite" would have come after that question was asked. This appears to have been a bunch of people getting pre-emptively victimized, and going through various hysterics(ha!). Then asking the organizers out for sushi when gracefully smacked into place with the documentation they should have requested initially.

So. Should an argument be made for more transparency in these events? How about publishing a list of everyone who was invited to participate, regardless of acceptance? Sounds useless to me, but maybe it'd put a stop to this crap. That, of course, leaves an opening for pointing out how fewer women were invited, but frankly, I won't be convinced this can be reduced to numbers.
Seriously. A bunch were invited and they all declined. Okay, you can do another round of girl invites lower down(let's be honest) on your list, but at what point does that turn into pandering? Or: at what point will these people complaining about lack of representation then turn it into, "You invited her?"

Miss R: No, Jason Lee only represents those who were asked and accepted(I haven't seen a list of invited men), the same way that the lack of women represented the converse. If you want to produce that slot for slot replacement list, you go right ahead, but it won't mean a damn thing if they'd still potentially say no. You are also quietly skirting the question of context by your "admission"(read: dismissal) that he's maybe in a one-person category. Jim Carey ain't Ian McKellen, but guess who's going to be asked to do the panel on comedy.

On Oct.17.2006 at 03:00 PM
justwondering’s comment is:

And to all the women complaining, what have you done to correct those inequalities other than complaining?

"Really good work, actually."


I'm glad to hear that. Because thats the only way ANYONE will gain the recognition they deserve.

I personally have no bias against females or their work. I love the concept of a fresh perspective, and working with women, other ethnicities, different age groups, etc. allows for me to see things through a different lens.

However, just complaining only makes others deaf or unsympathetic to your cause. The only way to get work done, is to get work done.

On Oct.17.2006 at 03:09 PM
Miss R’s comment is:

Su: um, I was being pretty sarcastic there. My point was sort of: "Whoa, how many women and men bailed on you before you got to Jason Lee?"

Nice to see you repurpose your sushi joke, though it was better written the first time.

But since you haven't seen the invite list, then you are as ignorant as the rest of us. I'd be curious to know how the invite process worked. Were emails sent blind and en masse, or were people identified as 'must haves' (where scheduling deference and expense might be prioritized) and what was the breakdown there? Were the women who declined given less notice? Was less of an effort made during the early stage planning because the organizers had better inroads to the men they invited, and consequently had a hard time finding women? Have the organizers questioned the relationships they maintain professionally to see if they are perhaps limited? After all, were not talking about who we go drink with.

Hasn't anyone planned a party here? Don't you engineer that list? Have you ever ended up with a party with only one gender, unless by design?

We're all designers here, I think. Aren't we trained to maintain multiple critical lenses simultaneously? Armin's best and brightest fantasy rarely happens in the real world -- at conferences or in a design project. Imagine handing a brochure project to a junior and getting back a final comp with Greeked copy, and the designer says to you, "Well, I thought you just wanted the best design. I wasn't concerned with the content." What would you say to some one so blindered and mono-focused?

On Oct.17.2006 at 03:18 PM
Doug B’s comment is:

Hasn't anyone planned a party here? Don't you engineer that list? Have you ever ended up with a party with only one gender, unless by design?

If I threw a party and invited 5 men and 5 women, and the 5 women couldn't make it, does that make me sexist?

No.

Should I postpone the party until the 5 women are free? HELL NO, it's my party. They should be glad to be invited in the first place...I certainly wasn't obligated to invite them.

Your entire argument is as hollow as that.

On Oct.17.2006 at 03:26 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Gunnar said:
Although I can’t disagree with Debbie’s conclusion, “discrimination is very much still in effect in this country,” her presentation of presumptive prima facie evidence is, in fact, prima facie evidence that she is not an economist. Tantalizing, interesting statistics left unexamined. . . too bad, because silly recitation of undigested statistics as political “facts” make it too easy to dismiss that whole subject.

huh???? gunnar, dear friend, you know i am not an economist. facts are facts. these are documented numbers. perhaps undigested, but how can you refute something as straightforward as "White women earned 79 percent as much as white men in 2003?"

Look, it is as simple as this: A well-known, previously well respected organization was presenting an event featuring all men. This seems biased to me, and to a lot of other people. Why is it wrong to feel this way?

This is what I am thinking right now: I am a woman. I work very, very hard, and I have acheived a modicum of success. Along the way, I have had to deal with some discrimination and sexual harassment. Other times, (more numerous, thankfully) I have been treated fairly and with great generosity, by both men and women. The negative crap I have had to deal with has not deterred me from either wanting to reach my goals or actually reaching my goals. But clearly, if anyone is saying that discrimination doesn't exist, then they are not fully aware of what is going on--this conference is only one bit of evidence of the segregation that still goes on, intentional or not. The Creativity list that Armin pointed out in his original post is further evidence.

just wondering asked:
And to all the women complaining, what have you done to correct those inequalities other than complaining?

Working hard instead of complaining is what many, many women do. That is why, despite what we are discussing here today, things are steadily improving. I think there is a big difference between what the women are doing on sites like Personism and Design Sponge (and here on Speak Up) and complaining. I'd also like to point out that complaining and ranting are often one and the same, and I believe that the word "rant" is a part of the title of this very discussion, written by a man. A good man, a kind man, but a man that I happen to disagree with intensely on this particular subject.

That being said, I find it sad and frustrating that women still have to prove what is undeniably, irrefutably true to people that don't believe it even exists.

Guess someone will be posting soon that it is just an accident of omission that we have never had a female president in this country.

On Oct.17.2006 at 03:32 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

Here's how it works. For many years, due to people actually thinking that women's work is inferior, a power structure gets set up when men are the top dogs, men are the known names, men are the featured designers, men are the organizers. Many years later, women start to get recognition, and the power structure starts to change as people realize (after all those 1970s feminists make a big stinkin' fuss) that the work *is* equal. But despite a conscious recognition of that fact, it takes many more years for those women with great work to work their way up in the ranks, for them to get their names known well enough to be remembered, and to be included on teams of organizers. In the early days of that process ... say 20, 30 years ago, they faced overt discrimination and low self esteem. Many have made it and things are changing, but I don't think we are at the point where we can sit back and forget about it as a non-issue. As I said before, it still takes extra effort to remember who's out there, and to look at some of the newer voices and faces.

Gunnar:
That those organizing conferences are ignoring females who are roughly equivalent to the males being presented because of unconscious bigotries or too-narrow social spheres?

Close, though I wouldn't use the word "ignoring." I just think we need more time to have completely saturated the market to the point that when you need to think of 20 presenters, 11 of them just happen to be women.

I’d also be interested in a thoughtful discussion of the ill effects of the overwhelmingly male presenter population.

Well for one thing it reinforces the feeling that only men are worthy of the attention. And perhaps worse than anything it forces people to organize "women's conferences," which really is nauseating.

Well then some of the great women designers (or anyone of either sex) should put on a conference and not invite any men panelists. I bet it would be judged on it's quality, not that it didn't have men on the panel.

I just suggested this to someone. Provided it was never publicized as a women's conference, and provided it was vehemently denied that any overt effort was made to make all the speakers women, I suspect you'd get a lot of press on this. People would notice.

On Oct.17.2006 at 03:48 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

Doug B : No if you invited 5 men and 5 women and the men said they couldn't make it and you had a party with 5 women, that would make you sexist.

On Oct.17.2006 at 03:52 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

quoting myself: Or is the argument that the nature of design conferences is problematic and that the under-representation of females is a symptom of a greater problem?

I went to the personism blog and looked at the list. I went a fair distance down the list of those identified as "designer" before escaping the fem ghettos of fashion and interior design. Let’s face it. These are not areas that tend to be honored and taken seriously broadly. Graphic design is only a step up (or maybe tied with interior.) Is that because women gravitate to less serious” arenas, because they are discouraged from more “serious” ones [I’m sick of putting the quotes in bold; you get the fact that I’m not too serious about what our culture is serious about], or because we tend to dishonor work associated with women.

If there’s anyone else here who’s old enough to remember typesetters, they were male and fairly well paid until it became a less loud and dirty, lower skilled job at which point it became mainly female and much lower paid. Was the change in wages based on a bigotry that said you can pay women less? On the fact that more people would be willing and able to do the job? On the idea that it had become something of a lower status because of feminization (which is subtly different from the bigotry claim above)? Most free-market theorists would gravitate toward door number two. I think it might be more complex than that but I guess I’d ask Monty to open that one.

We may have an interesting chicken-and-egg salad here: Are women ignored because they don’t do the things that event organizers think sell or are the things they do devalued because those things are done by women? (Or are men more likely to kill themselves for particular pointless status markers?)

Another possibility is that events that feature males are seemingly higher status because of their maleness (thus seeming to exclude women from the good stuff) while events featuring women are lower status (thus seeming to relegate women to the bad stuff.) I don’t believe that this can explain why a major event or article features no women but it might help explain why Debbie Millman’s radio show seems to be about two thirds male in discussion of a majority-female industry. Two thirds is, of course, lower than the percentage of pay she claims women get for “the same” jobs. Hey. There’s a clear “fact.” I’m sure sexism is the only explanation we should consider.

Debbie—I hope you know that I’m not fool enough to assume that sexual and racial discrimination are not serious problems. To set forward a bunch of statistics that mix overall pay with pay “for the same job” damns your claims from the start. To ignore choices of various sorts made for various reasons fair or unfair makes your claims so flakey as to allow people to ignore them completely.

I’ve been working in graphic design longer than you have and make much less money than you do. I doubt that there is pervasive bigotry against white guys and I’ve never heard of a blonde bonus; I suspect that you made some choices (or, perhaps, had some talents) that I didn’t. There are good reasons to think that men and women make different choices and that those choices result in different results. By stating your (perhaps-flawed) statistics as prima facie evidence of large-scale bigotry without trying to account for the stats in other ways you accomplish three things:

-You convince women that the deck is stacked against them to a greater degree than may be true, promoting anger and a sense of helplessness.

-You allow people who look at the statistics critically to say “She’s full of shit” and move on without really considering the realities.

-You keep us from asking the hard questions about solving problems because the overly-broad thinking keeps us from examining problems with the specificity that would lead to solutions.

ps: Marian—Thanks for the consistently rational voice in this conversation.

On Oct.17.2006 at 03:55 PM
Doug B’s comment is:

Doug B : No if you invited 5 men and 5 women and the men said they couldn't make it and you had a party with 5 women, that would make you sexist.

No, but that would probably make me divorced...

On Oct.17.2006 at 04:01 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

Gunnar—you're welcome, but I don't really understand why you're coming down on Debbie as though she said something idiotic. First off, she said she disagreed with Armin on many levels, but that she was strapped for time and posted the stats as a start.

FWIW, Debbie works harder than anyone else I know, and that explains both why she didn't have the time to post an in-depth analysis of the stats and why she is where she is today.

Now I too am up against a deadline, so I'm not able to give this the proper consideration or response it deserves, so Gunnar, if you have the time, can you please moderate your own response? Why are the stats as presented so egregious to you? I really don't think they are as inflammatory as you propose. And I am also now confused as to what position *you* are taking on this. That there is no discrimination? Or that to point it out is to fan the flames of ... what? Or that all statistics are skewed and shouldn't be used to illustrate anything?

On Oct.17.2006 at 04:35 PM
Thomas Jockin’s comment is:

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Everyone— chill out for one second!

I'm not even going to start talking about the issue of no women at the conference, and the massive amount of additional topic brought into this blog— enough people are already taking care of it for me.

But I do want to just ask 2 things that seem to be overlooked (which respond to Debbie’s stats):

1) Who ever said the amount of women in the "engineering and computer and mathematical occupations" was the decider that women have gained "equality"? Or for that manner being a big partner at a design firm?

You're implying

equality= big corporate occupations

And I think that's BS.

I can't stand it when professions and occupations that are just as important (if not more) as corporate gigs are dismissed just because they don't carry the big bling and power.

That's Capitalism at it's worst— Value and worth are nothing more than the $$ and the power that comes with that bling.

2) There’s an assumption that every women would choose the big corporate jobs, if they could.

All I have to ask is what about raising a family? Is it not a possibility that women make the choice to have children, be with their husband/partner and want a job that will allow those things to be a large part of their lives, without the massive interferences that a big corporate job would require?

I’m not saying this is 100% the case, but isn’t there a possibility that could explain some of Debbie’s stats as inherently non-sexist?

On Oct.17.2006 at 05:06 PM
mister worms’s comment is:

Thomas J. brings up a very good point. What if gender equality is not about women measuring up to benchmarks invented by men but about everyone's societal contributions being appropriately valued? These conferences, "climbing the corporate ladder," awards, etc. are just one facet of life and really, not truly the most important thing to the majority of people I'd guess. Women won't achieve gender equality by working harder (that's the silliest thing I ever heard - women work PLENTY hard!). Not that working hard at a career is bad, but what about raising children, maintaining relationships with spouses/ families/ friends/ neighbors/ community, caretaking, cleaning, cooking, etc... lots of traditional "women's work." Somehow I suspect women are still bearing a lot of the responsibility for this stuff. And it's all unpaid, unrecognized and can be very challenging to juggle along with 9 to 5 activities, yet we can't live without this work being done. The gender equality problem extends way beyond the job/career world. We need to stop trivializing the aforementioned life work and value it as much as if not more than career work.

On Oct.17.2006 at 05:51 PM
pnk’s comment is:

Artie Fufkin posted, earlier in this discussion, "If the conference promoters didn't put enough effort into inviting or representing women, then they will fail in today's male and female marketplace of ideas."

I think this is right on. The fact that this conference wound up so homogenous (on the gender axis, anyway) was clearly a failure on the part of the organizers, but not an injustice. If the product is subpar, don't buy it. The "marketplace of ideas" will help determine it's value, and others will design products that respond to market demands.

All that said, I'm not trying to minimize the point of view that this event was symptomatic of nagging society-wide problems: I agree with those who say it was. But I don't think it's going to doom our profession to a Dark Age of Sexism or anything. Provided we resist the urge to divide up into teams pro- and anti- each other.

Designers more than anyone ought to know the intrinsic value of contrast.

On Oct.17.2006 at 06:12 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Marian,

I inferred (Debbie please correct me if I was wrong) that the point of Debbie’s stats was that there is obvious and egregious sexism in hiring and paying. “[D]iscrimination is very much still in effect in this country” right after the list seemed like a tip off.

So, did Department of Labor median salaries tell us that there is obvious and egregious sexism in hiring and paying? Do they mean that white men are generally more overpaid than black men compared to women of the same racial group proving that sexism is a stronger problem than racism? (Does she want to go on record stating that?)

Or do they mean that the white male median is skewed by a few very highly paid white males and do not necessarily reflect on what most men or most women make?

Does the relatively greater difference between males and females among whites mean that white women are the group most likely to choose to drop out of the workplace for some time to raise children thus their age groupings do not reflect work experience? Or that they are more likely to head home early to pick up their kids so the men objectively do more? Or some combination of several of above explanations?

Another possible explanation is to be seen in the different occupational groups paragraph. To what degree is women’s working in lower paid occupations a free choice by women? I work in a lower paid occupation than my sister who has a PhD in math from UC Berkeley and is an IT group head at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. We made choices that we are both happy with. If more women make choices similar to mine and more men make choices similar to my sister’s, is that a sign of egregious sexism by those hiring?

Women are more likely to work part time than are men. To what extent is that a denial of full time employment for females and to what extent is it a choice brought about by differing roles regarding children and family? (No. Of course I’m not claiming that roles are inherent or required but I would claim that they are very often freely chosen and I defend a woman’s right to choose.)

Part time work generally pays less than full time work for a lot of reasons, legitimate and otherwise. How much of lower wages and minimum wage labor among women is related to that? Many more women work for tips than do men. How does that affect minimum wage numbers?

None of my explanation prove or are meant to prove that there is no hiring and pay discrimination. I state again that I agree with Debbie’s statement that “discrimination is very much still in effect in this country” but her stats don’t come anywhere close to proving that; they certainly don’t show to what degree it is true.

And they don’t come close to showing that any of this corresponds to questions of gender representation in graphic design side shows or whatever Armin was whining about people whining about.

BTW, I’m a big believer in affirmative action of the fair and legal variety. That’s an admission that we all can be narrow and parochial in our choices so we should make a special effort to make everyone welcome, consider people who don’t fit our preconceptions, and check ourselves to make sure that we do not slide into easy and reflexive decisions. That, of course, includes conference organizers.

On Oct.17.2006 at 07:11 PM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

The other day I was off to an ad agency to meet an art director on a new project. She was a young, cheerful asian designer. We shook hands. No sooner had she started when the exasperated male copywriter took control. I could see her outword demeanor shrink back and a small humiliation on her face that quickly passed. So, what seemed like an affront to this guy, I turned and only talked to her - making one very peeved man: Mr. Ego. It happens every day in small ways: territorialism. It must be irritating to competant designing women to be condescended to so often in the little things. Is it really a meritocracy or a selective process?

So when it comes to awards and conferences and committees, the macrocosm is like the microcosm. The boys club in the tree house doesn't even think of it as exclusion or unfairness. It's just their wonderfulness being so certain of their own status as world's best designers.
I don't see this "get over it" response as being quite right. Maybe we get exasperated by enforced equality. But if it's changed up in the star-celebrity designer LandorPentagramworld Pantheon someone tell me differently. Wishing for the best...

On Oct.17.2006 at 08:05 PM
adeliedesign’s comment is:

full disclosure: female

OK. I didn't have time to post when there were only 11 posts, so instead I'll post now.

Gunner's starting to get there, but I'd like to comment on Debbie's facts.

Debbie's facts were boiled down to:
"facts are facts. these are documented numbers. perhaps undigested, but how can you refute something as straightforward as 'White women earned 79 percent as much as white men in 2003?'"

It is true that these are straightforward facts. However, that doesn't keep them from being misleading. It may show that women, on average, earn less, but it's hard to prove this has much at all to do with discrimination.

If you look at young, childless professionals (age 27 - 33) who work the same jobs, women's earnings are around 98% of men's. In some jobs, women can expect to earn more. Female investment bankers can expect to earn 116% more then their male counterparts. Female dieticians can expect to earn 130% more.

When you look at job disparities, it nearly always comes down to a woman's choice. Women prioritize family over work. Seventy-one percent of women would exchange a high paying job for a job with more flexibility and benefits. Women are also twice as likely to take time out of the workforce to care for their children than men are. This inevitable leads to less experience and lower pay. Also, women tend to gravitate to jobs that have a lower pay than jobs that men gravitate to.

Women are also more likely to work part-time than men, and 85 percent do so for reasons such as family time and education. In 2000, although only 10% of male employees worked part-time, 25% of female employees were part-time workers. This obviously leads to a large average wage gap.

I would like to mention that women do still face some discrimination, I just don't think Debbie's facts show that.
****
RELATED LINKS:
The 76-cent myth
The Facts About Women's Wages
Gender Wage Gap Is Feminist Fiction
The Wage Gap Myth
****

Now then, reagrding the conference & design:

Leaving aside whether the best were truly chosen or not, I agree with Armin that you can't charge the Creativity Now planners with discrimination when the problem was that women didn't accept the invitations. As for the complaint that there aren't enough well known women designers, I would like to throw out the following:

1) There were not great masses of women in design doing hardcore work until more recently. We'll really have to wait for all the "old guys" to die off before we can really discuss if there are "enough" women.

2) Although there are many fabulous women designers out in this great big world, I'm going to venture to guess that many just don't care if they are noticed. And we all know that you can't just work your butt off on your work, you also have to work your butt off trying to get noticed. It doesn't matter how much we talk about wanting to celebrate the best design, it's really just celebrating the best design that gets shoved in our faces

***Sorry for the long post.

On Oct.17.2006 at 08:49 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Gunnar said:

I state again that I agree with Debbie’s statement that “discrimination is very much still in effect in this country” but her stats don’t come anywhere close to proving that; they certainly don’t show to what degree it is true.

Gunnar--we clearly agree on the only thing I truly want to go "on record' stating in this discussion: discrimination is very much still in effect in this country. If the stats from the U.S. Dept of Labor don't help prove that, or you believe they are taken out of context, so be it. As Marian so aptly put it, I did not have the time (or the inclination) to post stats accompanied by an in-depth analysis of their statistical significance. If that is offensive to you, please forgive me. That being said, we agree on the most salient point of my stance, which means we can still be friends.

On Oct.17.2006 at 08:55 PM
Joe Moran’s comment is:

Women can have babies ( or choose not to ). That is power!

What price can be put on that?

VR/

On Oct.17.2006 at 09:27 PM
Adelie (adeliedesign)’s comment is:

Well said, Joe.

On Oct.17.2006 at 09:42 PM
Diane Witman’s comment is:

I don't make a lot of money (due to my location and experience). I am the only woman in a shop of many men. A few of the men make a heck of a lot more money than me because of the point that I am at in my career. I am treated as an equal and my work is for the most part, fairly evaluated. I am working my tail off trying to slowly and steadily make a name for myself. I am also slowly and steadily planning a wedding, raising my son and being a loving fiance to my soon-to-be husband.

For the majority of my life I have connected with men, most of my friends were men, I've worked with mostly, you guessed it...men. I don't see equality as an issue as many women do, for I am making my own path. I don't complain, protest, write letters, aka waste my time. I put my nose to the grind and expect respect where respect is due and I don't have to demand it either.

I think that many women feel the need to complain, to have their voices heard. They are like attention-deprived toddlers who cry, whine or scream for their parents time and devotion. Sometimes they just don't know any other way to get a reaction, whether it be positive or negative. But when you start complaining too much the general public will act as a parent sometimes does and ignore your cries.

We women should stop all the talking and start doing all of the walking. And by the way what if the attendence at that conference were mostly women??? Does that make a difference in all of this? We had a late start in the game, but women are catching up and we are passing them in the fast lane. We are leaders, lovers, mothers, and in all truthfulness we are a bigger part of society than most would like to recognize.

I have never complained about being a woman, about where I am or who I am. I get what I deserve because I hold myself in such a way that people understand that respect is expected and I will give you the same in return. That is equality.

On Oct.17.2006 at 10:14 PM
a girl’s comment is:

"We women should stop all the talking and start doing all of the walking."

What is that supposed to mean???

On Oct.17.2006 at 10:58 PM
tjf’s comment is:

good lord. 56 posts in less than a day. i have to admit, i got to the mid 20s and lost interest. which sounds pejorative, but isn't, and i'll tell you why:

there's an entire generation of people to whom this isn't an issue. what's the median age of the posters who are so passionate about this issue? my mentor in undergrad was a woman. more than half of my grad school class was women. more than half of my grad school professors were women. one of the undergrad classes i helped teach while a grad student had 20 women and 3 men.

these are the women who will be leading design studios and becoming the "rockstars" of the profession over the next 30 years. and maybe that's the point of all this hysteria- to make the path that much easier for the next generation of women. i don't pretend to know, or care.

i'm just looking forward to the day when things like this aren't an issue. i think it will come sooner in the design community than in the general population (not surprising) and i think it will come sooner than you think.

On Oct.18.2006 at 04:41 AM
DutchKid’s comment is:

I think one problem is that in this world, male values largely prevail. Many women feel they need to act like a man in order to be successfull. For example: women in general are probably more insecure and they are definitely more modest. For centuries modesty has been a value highly praised in women. However: being loud and boastful is usually a must if you want to be heard. Result: men get most of the attention.
Do women need to work harder? Clearly not. Do they need to demand more attention for themselves? Probably, yes - but many women will feel uncomfortable doing that. I think it's time for our society to start placing more value on classical feminine traits. Acting like a man is regarded as a good thing, behaving like a girl usually isn't. Think about it.

On Oct.18.2006 at 07:09 AM
mister worms’s comment is:

DutchKid, that's so well said! I keep thinking that's really the heart of the larger problem. Women are digging the hole even deeper for themselves by putting down "traditional" ideas of what it is to be a woman, putting down feminine traits, putting down traditional roles... they should be saying hey, this is just as important as what guys are doing. THAT is equality. I can't believe that's not more obvious. It's so sad and frustrating.

"We women should stop all the talking and start doing all of the walking."

Yes, what IS that supposed to mean?? Check out the hours per week worked chart in the nytimes article called "Married and Single Parents Spending More Time With Children." According to that, men and women have been working about the same amount of hours but guess who's getting paid for more of their hours?

The gap is closing but naturally it just will never be equal (well, until guys can be pregnant and breastfeed maybe). We put too much emphasis on recognizing and rewarding the paid work when all the other work is just as essential and that's how we're unequal.

BTW, women choosing to be unmarried, child-free and without obligations to aging parents/family will not lead to gender equality either.


On Oct.18.2006 at 08:48 AM
Jess’s comment is:

I wholly agree with DutchKid. I can't relate to the tomboyism that runs rampant among women these days. It's as bad as the wide shoulder pads of the 80's (even a kid like me had to deal with it) and the message is the same.

Perhaps some women are like this. Okay. My mother is a manager who worked her way up the ranks, she's always been tough as nails, raised me on her own, actually woke up during her carpal tunnel surgery, and tried to inculcate a sense of independence and fortitude in me.

I have a lot of her "spark" but I'm far more sensitive than she is. She has spent her entire life calling me a "weenie" because I cry too easily and my nervous system is on hyper drive.

I think that kind of attitude is annoying. People harp on equality, tolerance, and good will. Okay, but why does this only ever seem to cover liberals and aggressive types? What about the conservatives and the sensitive? The gal who blushes when someone tells a dirty joke. Why not appreciate that too? Conversatives are always painted as mindless drones and the sensitive are ridiculed. Talk about discrimination.

I think the gender issue is much broader than who makes the most money or who has the most awards, who makes this list or that list. I agree with those who say to celebrate only the big names of whatever field is more boring than offensive. From what I read, this conference isn't even worth the trouble. Maybe the women were better off NOT being there.

I know a few women in creative fields and it seems the more tomboyish of them get more career attention. Maybe there is a sad truth that for a girl to "succeed" by the male standard she has to play the game like a man. That is her choice. I do not, however, think that is the only way a woman can successfully live her life. If my bosses like what I do, if my parents and husband are proud of my work, I'm happy. I have my own tiny success story. I went from an unemployed divorcee (fairly wasted with depression) to a piddly filing clerk all the way to an in-house designer. I make far less money than the other girls I know in similar fields, but I feel I'm more expressive than them. Who is "better"? It depends on who you ask.

I think these women who feel wronged should do as many have said and organize a conference with all female speakers and see what happens. And yes, without making a huge deal out of it. I think we women do that to ourselves more than we'd care to admit.

On Oct.18.2006 at 09:03 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

"All I have to ask is what about raising a family? Is it not a possibility that women make the choice to have children, be with their husband/partner and want a job that will allow those things to be a large part of their lives, without the massive interferences that a big corporate job would require?"

Absolutely. And, in America, that is the problem. Women are penalized for making that decision. (Men are too, for that matter, but we have a long-standing habit of making the women the homemaker more often than not).

So, it may not be directly discrimination, but, indirectly, it is.

Personally, I believe cultures such as Franch and Scandinavia, while far from perfect, have come a LONG way towards removing that one element from the equation and giving both men and women a much more even playing field without having to make a sacrificial decision of choosing work over family or vice versa.

The first big-agency gig I had out of school had a very female-heavy management board. However, even with that, you could see a subtle difference between those sans kids, who made work their main focus, and those with kids, who clearly didn't want work to be the priority. It wasn't a difference that necessarily manifested itself true discrimination, but you could see a slighy uneasiness between the two camps.

On Oct.18.2006 at 09:26 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

I fear dragging this into a political discussion, but seeing has how it was a bit of a troll-ish post in the first place and we're already at 60 replies, perhaps there's nothing to loose, so...

Mrs. Clinton. This seems to be a clear example of the problems women still face in this country to be seen as equals.

I hear a lot of people trashing Mrs. Clinton's possible run at the POTUS. People from all political flavours. And rarely do I hear a rational, thought-out explanation as to why they are against her running for president. Most ire against her appears (to me, at least) to be thinly veiled prejudice towards women in power.

In otherwords, the 'hate' towards her potential candidacy seems way out of proportion to the specific bullet points people have against her policies.

On Oct.18.2006 at 09:40 AM
Diane Witman’s comment is:

tjf, I agree with you. It is a generational thing as well. In my generation I don't feel threatened being a woman, I don't feel that I can't succed because of my gender.

I know that if my work is good it will speak for itself. And that's what I mean when I say start doing the walking. If women do good work they will be recognized. If men do good work then they will be recognized. I find it hard to believe that women feel they have to pull the gender card every time they get their panties into a bunch. And I find it even harder to believe that anyone would disregard a person with outstanding work and who is a noted creative professional due to their gender.

As for an all women conference, (sarcasm begins here) that's a great idea! Why don't we separate ourselves even further by excluding men all together and say "Hey we are different so we are going to hold our own conference." Nanny-nanny poo-poo! (sarcasm ends here) If women were to hold a conference I hope it would not be because we were feeling unequal and would want to show those big bad men a thing or two. I don't think this is the best solution.

As I said before, it is a slow and steady climb to equality. As Armin mentioned he is part of a minority and it's probably not easy having a thick accent and trying to make it with so many things to be conscious about in a field where confidence really counts.

This subject is exhausting but I want people to realize that not all women feel the need to act as a damsel in distress when they do not feel they are getting the recognition they deserve. A better way of going about it might be to suggest some women worth mentioning and ask that they be invited to the conference the next year and give those women selected plenty of advanced notice so that they can attend.

Does anyone know any of the women invited to this conference who could not attend? This might be the best way to find out how they feel about the conference.

On Oct.18.2006 at 09:54 AM
Bryony’s comment is:

As long as we keep digging and marking the differences that “can” and “should” be made between men and women, there will be a difference. When the day comes, where we can see each other as peers (which be reading the comments, some of you do) and concentrate on what we do and how, beyond the who, this conversation can be considered obsolete.

Now, to beautiful Louisville, where as a woman designer I accepted the honor to be a judge for the LGDA 100 Show— Louisville, here I come.

On Oct.18.2006 at 10:24 AM
DutchKid’s comment is:

I know that if my work is good it will speak for itself. And that's what I mean when I say start doing the walking. If women do good work they will be recognized. If men do good work then they will be recognized.
I am quite certain (because I see it happen all the time) that those who shout the loudest get all the attention, get invited to conferences etc. These people are NOT always the best (designers, in this case). But they are usually male, because for some reason men find it easier to draw attention to themselves. This is what I was trying to say earlier. I wasn't referring to traditional roles. I mean, if women want to stay home and look after their kids that's fine with me, but not very relevant to this discussion.
So if you're organizing a conference and you want it to be diverse and interesting, you'll have to look beyond the obvious candidates. The good work will speak for itself, but its creators may not speak very loudly.

Apart from that: sure, there are women who play the gender card all the time. But I don't see this happening here. Many people who have been participating in this discussion haven't been complaining, they're simply stating some facts. Just ignoring the issue will not make it go away.

On Oct.18.2006 at 10:52 AM
ed’s comment is:

when first reading this, my reaction was - not this tired old argument... rants like these never seem to help this alleged situation that you older folks keep talking about.

I get it, guys don't like girls, girls don't like guys, why don't we just go play in the sand box by ourselves?

Your rant —nay— diatribe is so divisive that it almost goes against the point it is trying to make. Your attack on women, is almost discriminating in nature (at the least discriminating women who disagree with you about this).

a divisive rant for a divisive issue.

On Oct.18.2006 at 11:46 AM
agrayspace’s comment is:

I think the discussion may have gotten sidetracked into larger issues surrounding statistics and what not, that for me are addressing that main point of the events that led to the original and polarizing rant.

As Derek said in the beginning: "Patriarchy is not about a bunch of large, deliberate decisions by chuckling, cigar-smoking men in suits. It's the small decisions, subtle inclinations, unspoken (or perhaps more often spoken) feelings about women. It all adds up."

It's about the small stuff thats hard to recognize when its happening and also how we choose to react to the skewed results.

We could say, "oh well, its a fluke and women should start using more megaphones if they want to be heard. We don't think we should do anything about it now though." That's the ultimately-it's-their-fault excuse.

or we could say "its kinda sad and unfair that this happened. We should re-evaluate what they hell allowed such a thing to transpire".

Perhaps its not as Armin said, that women shoud start doing more, becoming more visible or promoting themselves louder to inact change but that we need examine what it is that were are choosing to see, hear and thus recognize (or more to the point what we are choosing not to see, hear and recognize)

Why was the reaction the place the burden on the overlooked as opposed to the overlooker?

What kind of criteria and values are we using in which any "top ten" list (in which Females comprise at least half of the population) are not evenly or at least in a minority represented?

As far as the conference is concerned, I don't buy the line about scheduling conflicts. That is just a lazy excuse to an unfortunate result they choose not to do anything about because "it wasn't a big deal".

On Oct.18.2006 at 12:32 PM
Miss R’s comment is:

I think it's quaint that so many (I'm assuming) of the younger folks think that 'the work stands for itself'. You should keep plugging away at that. People who run things like Creativity Now appreciate your naivete.

I'm not clear how the various posts elsewhere are 'damsels in distress'. Perhaps you aren't fully aware of that convention -- where men come to the rescue of women. I missed the part where anyone was asking men to help out.

Since we still don't have raw data regarding the invitation process (Ken's testimony to date has been very limited), it's still an open question of obvious or institutionalized bias. Some women were invited and declined, yes. But without more background, there's no way of proving that it was a fair process, whether looking at it from a purely merit based process or with gender breakdown.

Armin hasn't offered any additional qualifications aside from 'trust me' (as regards to his own curatorial efforts). One of his 'defenders' here is Su, who did not idenitfy himself at least a collaborator on other projects (the Design Encyclopedia), if not as an outright client. See, small things like that happen all the time. I identified myself as a friend of Jen cause it's true, and relevant. My argument is still valid, but if you see it as diluted by that, well it might be. As might be Su's.

I've watched people stump for friends in supposedly blind judging juries, and I've watched people get accolades because of who their friends are. I've watched people get published, get jobs, get promotions based on where they went to school, who they did a bunch of free work for, etc. They may have been talented, or done good work, but that isn't why, in the end, they got something.

It's one being logrolling enterprise, much of it funded by suckers who keep plugging away on the 'best work wins' myth. Who else buys these damn books and pays to go to conferences (did you pay, Armin?)?

Of course I believe in the best work. And I continue to try and produce it. But it don't make a lick of difference. That's not going to discourage me, but it also won't sucker me into ignoring what a pile of incestuous shit the graphic design community is.

On Oct.18.2006 at 12:38 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

Well, this discussion has officially devolved into idiocy.

NO ONE who has posted here has said that they feel they need special attention because they're a woman. And I don't think anyone has said "Female designers are not famous because of discrimination." The post started as Armin's reaction to people noticing that a conference roster did not include any female speakers, and several people ... instead of keeping their nose to the grindstone, not "whining", and deciding not to wait 'til the old guys die off [Jesus H. Christ]... speaking up and saying "Hey, what gives?"

We are not screaming, whining, crying or doing any of those other age-old accusations that come up every time a woman points out the glaringly obvious. Nor has anyone put down so-called "femininity" in any way shape or form. You can take your Anita Bryant sound bites ("Tomboyism," "attention-deprived toddlers who cry, whine or scream," "[those who] blush," "panties in a bunch,""damsel in distress") back to the cave you dredged them out of. I, for one, won't address them further, as they are beneath my contempt.

....

Thanks Gunnar for the clarification on your standpoint. That's a lot clearer to me now. And "mister worm"'s [and others'] comments about the societal value of raising families and other traditional "women's" work is also valid.

The reasons for the absence of women speakers at the conference have been enumerated and explained fully enough. (Personally, I think the exclusion from a "list of top 50 creatives" [details anyone?] is far more egregious.)

Yes things are getting better, no we are not there yet. I think that it is extremely important to have a wide mix of views and types of people represented at a conference. I think it is bizarre in an age where there are so many great women designers not to have any there. I think that you do have to work harder to find those designers, and as an event organizer you have a responsibility to do so—furthermore I think that you don't need to scrape the bottoms of any barrels to do so. (And having said that, I do have a certain amout of sympathy for the organizers who did ask quite a few and were turned down.) I think that there will be a time in the not-so-distant future where this is no longer an issue; perhaps even in my lifetime.

But more than anything I believe that when anyone sees something that looks bizarrely unequal; or when anyone notices systematic underrepresentation where none should exist, they have not only the right but the responsibility to stand up and say "Hey, just a second here" without being accused of whining. Whining is snivelling in your soup, speaking up is taking action, and without taking action nothing ever gets done. Tell it to the lobbyists on Parliament Hill (or wherever Americans do their lobbying).

Although there are many fabulous women designers out in this great big world, I'm going to venture to guess that many just don't care if they are noticed.

Fuck off.

On Oct.18.2006 at 12:45 PM
Jason L.’s comment is:

Louisville anxiously awaits Bryony's arrival, and as the one who invited her, and programs events, let me tell you I hear no end to the "we need women presenters" moaning. LGDA only does 6-8 or so events per year, this year we had Meredith Davis, Luba Lukova, Debbie Millman and now Bryony. Yet I have still gotten the not enough women schtick. This year over half of our events were women!

I am also part of the generation where the majority of my class mates were female, my office until recently was majority female, my current boss(and best boss I've ever had or will) is female, so I may be in the dark on certain discriminatory practices, or the plight of the female designer. Though I certainly am aware of some of the boys club atitude that exists.

BUT, organizing events is difficult at best. And as a small organization, rounding up speakers and presenters can turn into throwing any and all names at a wall until something sticks. This year females stuck. Next year, who knows? That's just the way it works.

And to try and get a geographic mix (people from somewhere other than New York, San Fran, etc.) as well as a gender mix is next to impossible. And if we throw racial diversity into the mix... holy hell.

All of that said, it seems the conference mentioned would suffer from such a homogenous group of speakers. And it seems that it did. Perhaps lack of diversity had to with that, or just the speakers and topics being no good. I'll await Armin's next post for that. In the meantime I can't wait for a talented, articulate, thoughtful designer who happens to be a minority jackpot to come and judge our design competition. Louisville welcome's Bryony.

On Oct.18.2006 at 12:48 PM
Steve Perry’s comment is:

How can "designing women" get upset?

You had a crappy sitcom named after you! Male designers can't say that!

On Oct.18.2006 at 12:49 PM
Keith McCord’s comment is:

Shelly Lazarus
An interestingly timely article in Reader's Digest...

On Oct.18.2006 at 01:16 PM
beth ’s comment is:

I'm a fan of this blog, and I mean no disrespect when I say that sadly in 2006 women are not equal to men, and only a man would say otherwise. I am a web designer, and I can attest to the pay disparity between two employees with equal talent, professionalism and experience but differing genders.

On Oct.18.2006 at 01:38 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Marian said:

We are not screaming, whining, crying or doing any of those other age-old accusations that come up every time a woman points out the glaringly obvious. Nor has anyone put down so-called "femininity" in any way shape or form. You can take your Anita Bryant sound bites ("Tomboyism," "attention-deprived toddlers who cry, whine or scream," "[those who] blush," "panties in a bunch,""damsel in distress") back to the cave you dredged them out of. I, for one, won't address them further, as they are beneath my contempt.

Finally. A voice of reason. Bravo, Marian, bravo. And thank you.

On Oct.18.2006 at 01:42 PM
Diane Witman’s comment is:

Marian, Debbie and other women designers on this blog, if you are offended at my comments I don't mean to offend anyone but this is how I feel. I know too many women who use their gender cards all too often.

Asking a conference to move their date because there is a lack of female speakers is absolutely ridiculous and begging attendees to withdrawal, that just sickens me. In my opinion that is the same as holding your breath until you get your way, which is absolutely childish. I'm sure there is a more tactful approach to addressing this issue. The conference holders addressed this issue in the most politically correct way as to not fuel the escalating situation.

Debbie, I listen to Design Matters and what if the tables were turned? You have 46 male interviews and 10 female interviews on iTunes. What if someone pointed the finger at you for under-representing the female designer community? I'm sure this could worsen your situtation considering you are a respected female designer in the industry. I'm also sure it is unintentional, and perhaps there will be more female speakers in your future seasons but what if someone unleashed on you and your show. They could ask listeners to resist listening to your show, ask clients to refuse your services, ask subscribers to unsubscribe until there is an equal amount of men vs. women interviews on your show, and write letters to you.

I think we all know there is an unbalance, (however large or small) in the world and I just don't feel that acting in the manner as shown by the women who wrote to the conference and urged attendees to refrain is the best way of making a positive change. In fact, I think this will make things worse, it does not paint women in a good light and makes us appear as we may have appeared for many years, as a pain in the ass.

On Oct.18.2006 at 02:06 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Diane--Thanks for listening to Design Matters. Just so you know, I only have 48 shows up on iTunes, so I don't think your math is quite right. Also, please don't forget that I am a woman, so every darn show I do has a female voice and perspective in it! That being said, I am *always* thinking about trying to get more women I respect involved in the show and will continue to do so as long as I do the show. Anyone who listens to Design Matters must, by now, know my politics as well!

As far as a massive campaign to (in your words) "ask listeners to resist listening to your show, ask clients to refuse your services, ask subscribers to unsubscribe until there is an equal amount of men vs. women interviews on your show, and write letters to you" -- if that ever happened exactly as you specify--well frankly, I would gladly comply. I have been challenged and outright bluggeoned regarding my politics and my practice before, and expect I will again.

As far as the Tokien conference: I feel that is was lopsided to present a conference with all men. Period. I have curated over 10 conferences in my career and have *never* had any issues with getting a good amount of women to speak.

However, to be clear, I did not lobby the conference or write letters about it, or even weigh in on it until Armin started this discussion. As far as (again, your words) "acting in a manner as shown by the women who wrote to the conference," again, I say Bravo. That is what free speech is all about and I wholeheartedly support their efforts.

Diane, I appreciate that you did not mean to offend anyone with your comments. But please note, phrases such as "panties in a bunch" or "these women....are like attention-deprived toddlers who cry, whine or scream for their parents time and devotion" are not comments that are taken lightly. Furthermore, your comment: "In my generation I don't feel threatened being a woman, I don't feel that I can't succeed because of my gender" is a direct result of all the women before you that didn't feel that to "complain, protest, write letters" (was a) waste (of) time." It is because of them that we can vote, by the way.

On Oct.18.2006 at 02:44 PM
Andrew Twigg’s comment is:

Sadly we do not live in an age of equality. Sexism, racism, homophobia, religious intolerance, class discrimination, economic discrimination, nepotism, genocide, genital mutilation (for both sexes)... and many other forms of discrimination I can't even begin to name are still alive and well in 2006.

Open your eyes, the world is full of its evidence. Read the news; visit a supermarket; walk down the street; visit a school on the city, country, and suburbs; go the county courthouse. The fact that this dialogue can even happen is proof enough.

And as long as any kind of discrimination is allowed to continue, all discrimination will persist.

In fact, I think this will make things worse, it does not paint women in a good light and makes us appear as we may have appeared for many years, as a pain in the ass.

Diane, I have no doubt you mean well by this, but it makes me very upset. By this notion, I shouldn't be an outspoken proponent of gay rights because some people are disgusted or offended by my desire to be treated as an equal citizen. While I am generally a very considerate person, it is another thing entirely to be treated as less than equal and to accept it. Complacency does not lead to equality.

On Oct.18.2006 at 02:47 PM
ed’s comment is:

so i guess next year, when the conference reconvienes and has (most likely) more men than women speaking, as it the apparent status quo, they will rename it the "Token conference" ;-)

i keed i keed

On Oct.18.2006 at 03:44 PM
ed’s comment is:

so i guess next year, when the conference reconvienes and has (most likely) more men than women speaking, as is the apparent status quo, they will rename it the "Token conference" ;-)

i keed i keed

On Oct.18.2006 at 03:45 PM
LeAnn’s comment is:

As a long time lurker and reader of Speak Up, I'm very sad about this post and the discussion that has followed. Without perpetuating the flaming here, I'll just way that it is an issue and we can't just wish it away or get over it. If you're not getting a diverse panel you're not asking the right way and you're not involving diversity in the asking.

It's time to think differently.

On Oct.18.2006 at 08:14 PM
amy’s comment is:

I went to last year's "Creativity Now" conference. Even with a smattering of women presenters, I still thought the conference should have been named, "Four White Guys on a Couch."

On Oct.18.2006 at 08:34 PM
diane witman’s comment is:

While I am generally a very considerate person, it is another thing entirely to be treated as less than equal and to accept it. Complacency does not lead to equality.

I don't believe complacency will lead to equality. I also don't believe that the actions performed by the women listed on Wooster Collective who were upset by this conference took an appropriate course of action. I don't believe that it was intentional that the conference dismissed women designers completely. Call me naive, call me what you will.

If you read the dialogue between Wooster Collective and Ken from Tokion you will see the measures they made to include women speakers:

From Wooster Collective's site:
Actually, there are going to be some women panelists, they just haven't been announced yet because they were late confirmation. But it would be a pity if people got the impression that we invited them in response to the protest, rather than based on their work. It takes a long time to get anyone to agree to be in the conference (and this year we were in a scheduling conflict with the Frieze art fair), so everyone you see at the conference has been invited over the course of at least a month, and often, many months or even years.

Even with the inclusion of these speakers, the conference makeup will still not be anything close to ideal. My understand is, that being the case, your proposal is that we cancel the conference entirely and not have any kind of creative dialogue at all? That seems like a disappointing route to take.

But I understand your concern and I think your suggestions are reasonable. In fact, we already acted on a couple of them on our own.

Hmmm...seems like they were trying to improve the situation on their own and were well aware of the situation at hand.

Also from Wooster Collective's site:
You suggested that we delay the conference. We actually DID delay announcing the speakers for the conference. We usually do it about a month in advance, and this year we did it about a week in advance. That was a decision that will probably cost us in terms of ticket sales, and as an independent magazine, that was a very difficult decision to make.

I really, really want to emphasize that I disagree with the idea of highlighting the additional panelists' gender over their personal accomplishments. They were all part of a long list of invites we sent out at the same time. I hope they get equal treatment.,/em>

I guess my reason for posting my comments with such emphasis is because I don't think it is fair to damage a company's reputation. This could have a huge impact on their future conferences and may deter women from speaking at their event in the future. I do think it is appropriate to bring it up, but when it has been dealt with in such a manner as Tokion has I don't think it should be a subject that is beaten to death. They took appropriate measures, supplied names and in the end there will be women speaking at this conference.


I don't agree with the women designers response and would not ever want to grouped with them. Not as a woman, a designer or a person.

On Oct.18.2006 at 09:02 PM
mandy’s comment is:

Armin, please reconsider your essay. Women did not acheive the modicum of equality we have now by working hard. We worked hard for millenia before a few women, in a few rich countries, stood up and began to write letters, and deliver speeches, and otherwise make nuisances of themselves. We have come a long way, in a few generations, but you cannot wipe out thousands of years of patriarchy in a few short years. You may be fortunate enough to be in a position where it is no longer easy to perceive the still-long road ahead of us. That would make you more fortunate than others.

On Oct.18.2006 at 11:29 PM
a girl’s comment is:

It is sad and pathetic that men think that there is gender equality in the world. It is tragic and incomprehensible when women do.

On Oct.18.2006 at 11:59 PM
a girl’s comment is:

It is sad and pathetic that men think that there is gender equality in the world. It is tragic and incomprehensible when women do.

On Oct.19.2006 at 12:00 AM
gulfsprite’s comment is:

As long as the wage gap continues to exist there is no equality. not for women or any other minority.
The Wage Gap: A History

On Oct.19.2006 at 12:13 AM
m. kingsley’s comment is:

I guess this proves there's a vas deferens between men and women.

(sorry)

On Oct.19.2006 at 02:32 AM
Su’s comment is:

I lost interest in this discussion way back, but let's clarify something.
Miss R: One of his 'defenders' here is Su, who did not idenitfy himself at least a collaborator on other projects (the Design Encyclopedia), if not as an outright client.

Irrelevant.
I have no idea what you're trying to imply here, but if you want disclosure, then let's do it right: Yes, I built TDE. My involvement was and remains strictly technical, which was my ultimate interest in the project; I'm not particularly interested in its mission personally, though I think it's great it's being done. I don't think I've ever contributed anything beyond correcting an occasional typo – the last time being ages ago – and certainly nothing of real substance. I have also done a couple other projects for/through Armin that I'm not sure I'm at liberty to discuss, so we'll leave it there. I've never been a client of his. I've called bullshit on him and just about anybody else you can name, including my partner, at some point in the past and probably more than once, so if you're looking for cronyism, set your sights elsewhere.

My opinions above are based on nothing but those I had well before this, which you are well aware of given you've seen my decidedly non-serious take on the Wooster post(note: not posted by myself, not on my own site, without being asked, and paraphrased at that, though I stand by the statements.) I have absolutely no inside involvement with Speak Up(not even technical), and thus had no knowledge this post was coming.

It's a mystery to me why you think I was "defending" Armin, given I was at least partially disagreeing with a single point he made, and then arguing against a single point you made. I think what you know of my opinion on this can be summed up as...fragmentary. And I certainly hope you aren't under the impression I even have a complete opinion as yet.

Whatever further trolling you might like to engage in can be done via e-mail.

On Oct.19.2006 at 05:15 AM
mister worms’s comment is:

"there's an entire generation of people to whom this isn't an issue. what's the median age of the posters who are so passionate about this issue?"

I don't know the median age but I also don't think you can generalize and say this isn't an issue to an entire generation.

What generation is that, by the way? At the ripe old age of 28 I might be completely out of touch with the 22-year-old mindset.

On Oct.19.2006 at 08:18 AM
Chris Rugen’s comment is:

"Aren’t we all equal by now?"

No.

On Oct.19.2006 at 09:09 AM
Susan Kirkland’s comment is:

And what if Vit did what he needed to do to get the good jobs and worked harder and smarter ad infinitum; applied for the job because he was qualified but was told "this job will be filled by a man with a family to support, my dear." whose thinking would be short-sighted? Great to know if you have a penis, it's still just about working hard [pun intended]. When 50% of a man's value is judged by the same attractiveness quotient, then we will have equality. Oh, yes, and let's add a clause that says penis length counts; it doesn't matter just how good your work is, but also how it hangs [pun intended again]. Bugger that.

Think,if bald pudgey men were sent home with a pat on the butt and the admonition to lose weight and grow some hair then reapply for the job, boardrooms would be empty. And, oh my gawd, don't turn sideways if you're pregnant.

Yes, it is 2006 and attitudes have simply been buried, not revamped. Shame on you for pooh-poohing the reality of sexual politics and laying responsibility for it in gender quota expectations. Snap out of it.

On Oct.19.2006 at 12:25 PM
Steve Perry’s comment is:

Susan Kirkland... you sound really bitter. I am just about sick of everyone personally attacking Armin.

Here is a little hint, Susan. If you want to be taken seriously on a design blog, you should remove the link to your work. Nobody is going to take that pile of steaming dung you call a portfolio seriously. "Whaaaaa! I didn't get the job!" Ever consider that your work is dated and pathetic?

On a second note, did it ever occur to you that part of the reason the average salaries are skewed is because women take maternity leave? That will automatically set you back. Right or wrong, that is the way it is.

Don't like it, then start your own agencies, ladies. Hire only women. Then work only with all-women clients. I will gladly keep myself out of those meetings.

Nine times out of ten (in my experience) women are the ones who start intra-office drama.

My two cents. Flame away.

On Oct.19.2006 at 01:19 PM
szkat’s comment is:

Nine times out of ten (in my experience) women are the ones who start intra-office drama.
so are cheap shots a male or female trait??


this entire thread surprises me, and i find the attacks on armin shocking. i'm 25 (possibly the low end of the median?) and have never thought about what i might be judged by beyond my honesty and work.

in the past five years i've traveled abroad in 21 countries, and in my freelance work i've carried 22 clients in the past three years. and yesterday i started my second-ever salaried job as a strategic planner at a firm in downtown chicago. in other words, i've deliberately saturated my recent history with work and travel as an attempt to become a child of the world and more than just a product of my own upbringing.

from what i've seen, i think the new freedom is to be fearless while determining what social constructs are appropriate vs archaic. when people say no, i'm not afraid to ask why, whereas maybe 15 years ago in the professional world i might have been afraid to challenge anything.

i'm female, overweight, and young, and my savings account is next to nothing. all these things work against me according to this conversation. but to be honest, in my mind those things are irrelevant to honesty and work. and right now at my job i'm being noticed, even celebrated, for just being me. i don't find myself to be in competition with anyone but me.

On Oct.19.2006 at 01:46 PM
Mr. Frankie L’s comment is:

Here is a little hint, Susan. If you want to be taken seriously on a design blog, you should remove the link to your work. Nobody is going to take that pile of steaming dung you call a portfolio seriously. "Whaaaaa! I didn't get the job!" Ever consider that your work is dated and pathetic?

I don't think comments like these add to this discussion – There are better ways to formulate a rebuttal.

On Oct.19.2006 at 02:06 PM
Steve Perry’s comment is:

yeah, you are right. i am sorry.

i was just doubting the credibility of the source, and went a little over-the-top while trying to make a point.

I am just so freaking sick of people blaming others for their own situations. take ownership and do something about it.

all apologies.

On Oct.19.2006 at 02:13 PM
brian alter’s comment is:

yeah, i thought steve perry was probably a nice guy, if only because of the song "open arms."

what's with artie fufkin of polymer records??? "kick this ass for a man!"

seriously, Speak Up using your birth names or yer just a buncha agitators. but then again, i feel like that's all armin's doing with this article. and why??? i think there's better shit to put yer time into, man! oh right, it's your blog.

On Oct.19.2006 at 02:17 PM
neha’s comment is:

I'm a woman, I'm a designer and I live in Bombay, India. And I think many of you might benefit from visiting Link

On Oct.19.2006 at 02:21 PM
Steve Mock’s comment is:

I think Jack Nicholson once said that women are smarter than men and women are stronger than men. I couldn't agree more.

The author has hinted that Part II of this piece may reveal that the conference was boring and a waste of time and money.

Perhaps the declining invitees could foresee what the men could not; that this conference in particular was jive.

On Oct.19.2006 at 02:28 PM
i heart journey’s comment is:

"Aren’t we all equal by now?"

NO WAY.

I got my current job because the insitution was looking/needing to diversify. And you know what? The instution is better off for the fact that myself and all the other new hires are not white men. I am the first female in my department and this makes a big difference for the diverse clientele we serve.

side note---I saw Journey last summer without Steve Perry, and I must admit, despite Steve Perry's admittedly amazing voice, the dude they got sounds EXACTLY like him.

And, the real Steve Perry would never be such a big jerk.

On Oct.19.2006 at 06:32 PM
Christina W’s comment is:

Have you ever flipped through Annie Leibovitz' book Women? (Apologies as I am working off of memory here, so please correct me if I'm wrong). I think there is a small sampling of the photos at this link

I remember looking at the pictures and getting that little shock of thrill when you came upon something that was so untypical it took a moment to recognize the person as a woman. The one I remember most was a woman in a field who was identified as a FARMER. Not a farmer's wife. Coming from a farming community as I do (where I have seldom felt discriminated against on the basis of gender, and if I did, I barged ahead anyway) I had never heard of a woman referred to as a farmer.

So there are still biases, IMHO, and they are very subtle. But much better than my great-aunt's story about stealing her brother's bicycle so she could try it out, and getting in big trouble for it. This is a 90-year old woman who decided that she was going to drive a skidoo and ride a horse before she died - she has done both and is still going strong at 95. So we can keep forging ahead I think, whether we have large obstacles or small ones.

On Oct.19.2006 at 07:26 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Sorry for the brief dissapearing act, I was out of town with things to do. So, clearly, ahem, this post has caused a stir that I did not quite expect. I now know better. So a few points:

1. Having thought long and hard about this, the gentle point I was trying to make that got lopsided in my polarizing diatrabe was that: Shouldn't it be possible to award and recognize women based on their achievements in both work and life in light of their own particular efforts as opposed to doing so by getting that recoginition by adding pressure to "people in power" to recognize women?

2. After a few comments, I realize that I failed to acknowledge the importance of, well, speaking up. Which is what Bekman, Wooster Collective and design*sponge did. And it is what women (and men) have done over the past decades to get us where we are. I do apologize for belittling this effort. However, I still hold my ground that "rescheduling the conference" is not an okay request.

3. "Aren't we all equal now?"… perhaps my most infamous and in-most-need-of-editing phrase I have ever typed on Speak Up. So, okay, we are not. But let me provide a glimpse of where that remark came from. As a graphic designer, over the past 10 years, from college to this morning I have encountered many, many succesful and talented women. Women with good jobs, with good lives, with interesting projects, with self-confidence, authority and, above all, happiness. I also look at our profession and I see that three of the major design magazines (I.D., Print and How – STEP, prior to Emily's departure would make four ) have women as editors. Ellen Lupton and Paola Antonelli are the ultimate arbiters of design taste setting the pace for two of the most public and important arenas for design. I can't even begin to number the amount of women whose work I admire and whose practice is more than striving. Not to mention that some of the best educators across the nation are women. So, in a poorly worded sentence I failed to get this sentiment across.

4. The overall tone of the piece was not my usual tone: I do apologize if I directly offended anyone. Every now and then, emotion gets the best of me. I also forgot the responsibility I personally have of providing a fair and balanced view and I failed to do that in this post.

5. For all the people that have expressed their dissapointment in this piece there have been also a few that have expressed their agreement both online and offline. This is a divisive and polarizing issue and there should have been a better way to bring the discussion about, but I am somewhat grateful for the reality check in all the forms that it came in this thread of comments.

6. Knowing what I know now, would I have still written this "rant"? Definitely yes, but with a revised tone.

7. Live and learn.

On Oct.19.2006 at 09:56 PM
stella’s comment is:

Wow, that was a shocking and terrible posting, exhibting a personal shallowness and an inexplicable defense of Tokion's inability to represent a diverse picture of "creativity". Sorry, but no amount of retro-apologizing will get you off the hook for it. Perhaps it's time for you to retire this ill-conceived forum as you seem to make far too many missteps. You've obviously forgotten your outsider status that made you interesting in the first place. I am totally disgusted with you and thankfully it seems many other people are as well.

On Oct.19.2006 at 10:53 PM
Armin’s comment is:

A little harsh, but, okay…

On Oct.19.2006 at 11:05 PM
hina ’s comment is:

I am horrified that a well educated, obviously well travelled individual could make such sweeping generalisations and statements.
Yes, it is up to women to take up the opportunities that present themselves. However, I do feel that quite often these opportunities may be passed up because as women we do have to work harder (sound familiar?) to prove we are just as (and quite often more) capable as our male counterparts, not to mention having to still juggle with everything outside of work. So I dont think it is fair to simply say 'well they didn't take it up so, what more can we do?'

And yes, it is extremely important to have women represented simply because they provide very neccessary (read visible) role models for young girls aspiring to be more than a stepford wife.
This is exactly the problem with engineering/math/science industries - there simply aren't enough role models out there to send the message to young girls that you too can do this.

On Oct.20.2006 at 12:33 AM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

Perhaps it's time for you to retire this ill-conceived forum as you seem to make far too many missteps. You've obviously forgotten your outsider status that made you interesting in the first place. I am totally disgusted with you and thankfully it seems many other people are as well.

Stella, since you felt so strongly to voice it, you must have some underlying motivation. I can respect conviction but not pointed cruelty.

My mother was the first art director I knew, and I saw first hand how she was hurt by discrimination. But she rose above it and reached HER goals. She isn't famous, but she taught me how to persevere. Competant, talented women have dealt with the gender disparity and injustice for such a long time - and succeeded on their own terms - without resorting to character assassination.

There are better people here than me who can comment on this. Does Armin need defending? Maybe, maybe not. Something is clearly wrong when someone says he or she is disgusting and this forum's days are over. Armin can talk for himself, but I want to say that I think there is a better way, Stella, than murdering the man for talking. This is just a conversation, a discussion he knew was opening a can of worms, not stone cold misogyny.

Here, I thought, we're colleagues and peers. I see talented people not gender divisions. And there are some here who have my deepest admiration both as professionals and as new friends. And speaking up means that you don't "go nuclear" on someone for their thoughts. Argue with him, state your convictions, but leave the weapons at the door. Please.

On Oct.20.2006 at 01:50 AM
James’s comment is:

The heir of superiority is not in the "All-American white man", it's in those who chastise him for simply being who he is. If you are his equal you loose your privilege to bitch and moan about your status. You lose your scapegoat and the accountability for your life becomes your own. If you can at least perpetuate his perceived dominance, you can have your cake and eat it too. And by the way I am a "minority".

Agree or not, but I believe there isn't full equality because we simply don't want it.

On Oct.20.2006 at 02:29 AM
Tania Rochelle’s comment is:

Dear James,

Speak for yourself. Change that final 'we' to 'I' and leave the rest of us out of it.

On Oct.20.2006 at 08:09 AM
max hubert’s comment is:

you can still comfort yourself and come to france for the exhibtion "9 femmes graphistes" (9 woman graphic designer) which takes place next november.

the 9 graphic designers : Yuko Araki (Japan), , Joanna Gorska (Poland), Marta GranadosApril Greiman (usa), Natalia Iguiñiz Boggio (peru), Leila A. Musfy (Libanon), Clotilde Olyff (Belgium), Kveta Pacovska (Czech republic), Lizá Ramalho (Portugal).

http://www.graphisme-echirolles.com/francais/actualite/mois2006/programme/9-femmes-graphistes.htm

On Oct.20.2006 at 09:40 AM
agrayspace’s comment is:

Armin

That was a well pointed rebuttal. I appreciate your ability to reexamine your statements and confront "what was meant" with "what was said". As polarizing as the discussion was, I don't think it was without merit. I appreciate the forum and discussion. It's absolutely vital.

I still come back to the idea, that in spite of an individual woman's ability to work hard and gain the same level of success and recognition as man (the pull yourself up by the bootstraps idea), the real struggle is the under representation of WOMEN as a whole and pessimism around the core principle of affirmative action.

Our society's machinations proove time and time again to create an uneven platform of access, education and privelege amongst the different sub groups of our population and that it's the responsibility of the majority and priveleged to compensate for that in the name of equality.

On Oct.20.2006 at 09:55 AM
Jason L.’s comment is:

Not naming names, there seems to be a resentment in certain posts that goes well beyond what's at issue here, which was essentially the unrealistic request to move the date of a conference, or else. The boycotting and resistance aren't the issue, in fact they would be partially deserved. But making irrational requests/threats seems to hurt the cause. It turns making a point into whining. Which then gets others to post things in haste and completely step into the shitstorm.

Personal attacks on Armin, or his firm, only add to the idiocy of the entire thing. And attacks on others work that are not relevant or offered up for comment make others look trivial at best. That's not to say Armin didn't need to take his lumps for some broadstroking, but lets call it that and save the petty nastiness towards a guy that has shown a pretty level and eloquent head over the last few years in this forum.

On Oct.20.2006 at 10:47 AM
Sean Flanagan’s comment is:

One thing that people have not brought up much in their responses is Ken Miller's original response, which was, by Armin's account, "insufficient and non-pleasing". To list the names of women who were indeed invited to join this panel was the greatest argument against those who think this is a gender issue.
The women who were invited chose not to attend "for whatever reason". Perhaps it was because the superiority complex does not exist in them. Perhaps their egos were not so big that they had to clear their busy schedules to appear at a conference to soak up attention. Perhaps they simply care more about their work than recognition for their work. Perhaps their dedication to the field exists more on a personal level than community. Perhaps they had the foresight to see that the conference, by some accounts, would be a complete failure. Most of all, perhaps they did not see themselves simply as female, but as individuals with better things to do.
Obviously, this is not a black-and-white issue, but consider that these women who were invited did not place such emphasis on their own gender, but rather on their personal priorities. Simply saying that it was the responsibility of the organizers to include women on a panel is objectifying, to the point that women's experience, abilities, expertise, and self determination are thrown aside in place of their gender. To that end, certain responses cared not that the women who were invited made their own decisions, only that they have vaginas and can speak. If that isn't sexism...

On Oct.20.2006 at 11:41 AM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

I must apologize to Stella, personally, for any singling out of her in my rant. No one needs to "lose face" over my stupid comments. Not her, not Armin. Just as uncalled for. Artists and designers get passionate, regardless of gender. My apologies to you, Stella.

We need a pie throwing party... Maybe if Armin would throw one in his own face, this might all be laughable and we can chill out....

On Oct.20.2006 at 11:46 AM
Keith McCord’s comment is:

Here, here! and what he said...
Jason makes a great point and we should get back to talking about the things that have made SpeakUp a great place to discuss design issues and Armin a great moderator. I think we all have taken our shots at each other and need to get back to SpeakingUp about the important things, like which corporation screwed up their brand this week!

On Oct.20.2006 at 11:56 AM
yeah’s comment is:

like which corporation screwed up their brand this week!

ha, ha.

On Oct.20.2006 at 01:04 PM
mazzei’s comment is:

"need to get back to SpeakingUp about the important things, like which corporation screwed up their brand this week!"

exactly stick to the superficial things going on in design it's what this site is best at.

On Oct.20.2006 at 01:11 PM
Nathan Philpot’s comment is:

I think it is a little bit of what everone said.

On Oct.20.2006 at 05:32 PM
Michelle French’s comment is:

I have been stunned, shocked and appalled. By all sides. (And convinced that our Pesky Illustrator is even more my hero—I still have an Abita for you.)

Did anyone else see Dianne Sawyer's report tonight? The statistic about the gap in income is used by North Korea as evidence that the US is the "biggest human rights violator in the world."

Growing up in the '60s and '70s, I completely bought the whole line that I could be anything I want to be. The reality is "sometimes." (A rich Daddy and/or husband would help.)

I was in my mid thirties before I realized how pervasive sexism is. In cities and corporations it is so subtle as to be almost imperceptible. Working outside the big city for a short period introduced me to men who said things to me that were so degrading—yet, they saw nothing wrong in their behavior. I realized that others had the same attitudes, they were just schooled in allowable expressions.

Men who are my age and younger tend to be more accepting of women—although one firm owner told me that he hesitates to hire women "because they just have babies and quit." (OK, I get more angry at women I've seen take advantage of their employers...)

Armin, honey, do you really think that having a sexy accent hurts you in New York? (Did it EVER work against Massimo?) My teacher at Parsons a hundred years ago worked really hard to maintain his accent after 40 years in the US.

In the early '90s I was on an equal opportunity inititiave for AIGA. It was discontinued out of the fear that it perpetuated tokenism. (Yes, I was asked to speak to a design class about sexual harassment because I have a uterus.)

So, let's quit fighting. Acknowledge the problem and let's all be aware and work to solve it. Don't we say we solve problems? Who has solutions? Toss them in the mix.

On Oct.20.2006 at 08:03 PM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

Michelle, Stop saying nice things about me before you step over to the Dark Side...send the Abita....

On Oct.21.2006 at 12:36 AM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

(Despite worries about accusations of objectification) I have to point out that although Armin is cuter than Massimo, Vignelli’s accent is sexier.

On Oct.21.2006 at 10:11 AM
Michael Swaine’s comment is:

I am a male, and over the year I have had several women in my employ. Each has work rings around the men in my various organizations. It is my belief that this can be atributed to a natural phenonunon known as "survival of the fittest", but that discrimination exists is immaterial to the real question here. We don't have enough information to make rational conclusion. On the surface it seems that the eminent Mr. Armin should be drawn and quartered and hung out to dry as has certainly happened. But this is an emotional, reactionary responce.

I believe we have far too little data presented here or in other connected blog to legitimatly burn the Armin barn to the ground. Americans a great at overreacting to partial information. This is what fuels talk radio. We have scant details on what due diligence was indeed observed in extending female invitations, responding to the declined invitations and communicating to the potential female speakers of the dearth of feminine presence. Had this detailed information been forthcoming much of the conflagration might have been avoided.

But lets look at what has really happened here. I believe what we have here is the age old Mars/Venus thing going on. Guys probably wouldn't have even notices an all female panel of conference presenter, or at least they would have celebrated it. The ladies have had their feelings hurt and Armin has not properly prostrated himself for his insensitivity. Armin, I trust you've been married long enough to know your never going to win this one. Your most prudent course of action would be to apologize profusely, send each of the non-participating women a dozen roses and promise to never make the same transgression again. When the screaming dies down recommit yourself to pursuit of inviting an overabundance of female speakers at the next conference.

P.S.: It would be wise to clearly document your efforts, lest they all decline your invitation and the firestorm rekindles.

On Oct.22.2006 at 12:25 AM
Bradley’s comment is:

Coming into this late, unfortunately.

I support Armin here.

Why? Simple. Because his point is that gender doesn't matter. Forget the "tone" and some of the errant comments (sadly dude, we're not all equal, but whatever. I know what you were getting at.), and focus on the crux of his message and you'll find that its probably one of the more humane things expressed here: that it doesn't matter if you're male, female, purple, whatever.

And yowza! The responses! WOW! It's been awhile since I last saw that much bile, vitriol, and pure rage directed at someone for expressing a point-of-view. It's a little disconcerting. And not at all constructive. Kinda silly to (essentially) call someone "stupid" while behaving like a neanderthal yourself.

Anyway.

This is getting cliche--the fact that gender isn't a big deal in who you are as a designer, but contending with the very ugly reality that sexism exists on a big and small scale. I've seen it in degrading comments and conversations, hiring and firing practicies, salary discrepancies, promotions, you name it. It's out there. I've seen female firm owners railroad younger female employess as much as I've seen demeaning actions taken by men at the same level of power.

It needs to stop. But its hard to stop it because people create so many shades of gray to avoid any overt appearance of being officially "sexist."

And adjusting speaker lists so that they include more women is NOT a fucking solution, folks. It isn't. The people who compose those lists and send out those invites can't control the behavior of firm & agency owners, and its no guarantee that they won't do or say sexist things themselves. Putting more women on the lists achieves exactly that: more women on the lists. Sure, it can't hurt anything but its not going to fix the truly shitty things that go on every day.

On Oct.22.2006 at 12:10 PM
Keith McCord’s comment is:

From our friend at "The Blackwing Diaries" (linked in a Quip about mediocrity a couple months back):

Walt Disney himself said these words in front of his assembled employees, at a kind of "state of the studio" speech:

..."The girl artists have the right to expect the same chances for advancement as men, and I honestly believe that they may eventually contribute something to this business that men never would or could. In the present group that are training for inbetweens[sic] there are definite prospects, and a good example is to mention the work of Ethel Kulsar and Sylvia Holland on the "Nutcracker Suite", and little Rhetta Scott, of whom you will hear more when you see "Bambi".

...if a woman can do the work as well, she is worth as much as a man"

This, from Walt Disney--in 1941! He wouldn't have said it if he didn't believe it. He was a genius, a mercurial character and a product of his age--

nuff said...

On Oct.24.2006 at 10:35 AM
Susan Kirkland’s comment is:

Steve Perry wrote: Ever consider that your work is dated and pathetic?

Having just returned from a shoot in the islands with a lovely tan and a bulging bank account, I would have to say "no" to your question.

Mr. Perry also wrote: Here is a little hint, Susan. If you want to be taken seriously on a design blog, you should remove the link to your work.

Mr. Perry, hundreds of people take me seriously on my graphics.com blog.


Perhaps some serious study would help you better understand Advertising Design.

On Oct.25.2006 at 01:28 PM