So today I asked my students to each bring in the names of three living designers they admired, one of whom had to be local. Here’s the list:
David Lance Goines
Some of these were repeated by several students, so the 35 names above actually represent 54 suggestions. Do you notice anything peculiar about the list (besides the fact that the names marked with an * are no longer living)? How about the fact that there are only eight women, half of whom are on our faculty?
Design abounds with accomplished men and women, yet repeatedly at conferences, on judging panels, on faculties and in publications it seems men are more likely to be lauded than their female counterparts (this despite the fact that many of the design profession’s most respected publications have women behind the chief editor’s desk). The reasons for this are as varied as they are disappointing (and controversial), and they are by no means unique to design. On average, women still earn 76¢ for the same work that earns a man a dollar. In fact, until recently AIGA’s salary calculator—which computed your expected earnings based on job title, experience, size of firm and, yes, gender—would subtract $10,000 if you were a woman. WTF?
As an industry we’ve tried to make up for this disparity with annual “Women in Design” issues of popular trade publications (also not without controversy) and books devoted to the the Women of Design. Some view these efforts as celebratory gestures, others see them as demeaning platitudes. Whatever your position, the implication remains that the rest of the time we’re focusing on the men in design.
Ideally, gender shouldn’t affect who we admire or why. Good work is good work. I do believe however that its important to have professional role models with whom we identify. Gender, age, race, orientation, politics, background and innumerable other factors often play an important role in that identification. To that end, I have a new request of you. In the comments below add the names of three living female designers whom you admire. In this list there are no repeats, so if you have a favorite, post their name early.
UPDATE: This is quickly becoming a substantial and valuable list. In the next few weeks I’ll follow up with a post that includes links to everyone listed. Keep ’em coming!
UPDATE 2: Thanks to Kern Toy for bringing this Facebook Gallery to my attention!