Design Museum: Percentage of Women in Design Workforce has Remained Virtually Unchanged in Over a Decade

New analysis by the Design Museum reveals that women are underrepresented in the UK design workforce. ONS figures show that as of March 2018 only 22% of those working in occupations associated with design were women. This represents an increase of only 4% since 2004, when only 18% of those employed in the design industry were women.

At A-Level, girls currently make up almost 70% of entrants for design-heavy subjects but this uptake does not feed through to the design workforce where women continue to remain underrepresented.

Design-related jobs where women are underrepresented include architects, civil engineers, town planners, software designers fashion and product designers and more.

The Design Museum’s first high profile event to address gender representation in design takes place on the 7th and 8th December. ‘Women Design’ is a two-day programme of talks hosted by curator Libby Sellers featuring leading architects Farshid Moussavi and Odile Decq, graphic designers Marina Willer and Frith Kerr, a keynote from leading urban sociologist Saskia Sassen, and a pre-recorded lecture by Denise Scott Browncommissioned by the Sir John Soane’s Museum, and many more.

This weekend also marks 100 years since the first UK general election in which women were permitted to vote. The Women Design talks are intended to stimulate debate about the lack of gender diversity in the sector, and guests will hear from emerging designers taking part in the Designers in Residence project, which for the first year has an exclusively female line up.

The Designers in Residence programme at the Design Museum is a core part of the museum’s activity, supporting new designers, from any discipline, with time and space away from their regular environment to reflect, research and consider new ways of developing their practice.

The new analysis has been undertaken as part of the Design Museum’s Design in Britain campaign, which aims to demonstrate why British design must be at the centre of our economic future.

Commenting, Co-Director of the Design Museum Alice Black said:

“As we mark 100 years since the first UK general election in which a percentage of women were permitted to vote, these figures show just how far we have to go – in many spheres – in order to reach equality.

The fact that the percentage of women working in the design workforce has remained virtually unchanged since 2004 shows a real failure to draw on all the talents out there, and promote inclusiveness in our industry.

We must take this moment to commit to work together to improve gender diversity in all sectors of the workforce. In the design industry, this means encouraging girls who take design-related subjects in schools to become product designers and civil engineers.

At the museum we are committed to finding new ways to make women more visible in the design industry and inspire change, and I am delighted that we have a cohort of talented women designers in the Designers in Residence project this year.”