Gender balance: Are women underrepresented in product design?

Gender balance: Are women underrepresented in product design?
Panel discussion_CID Unit 401 building 4A Cosentino Dubai Design District Dubai photo by Ajith Narendra ITP Images Cosentino Panel Discussion
Published: 23 May 2019 - 6:07 a.m.

Dramatic efforts are under way to increase the number of women in senior positions and improve gender balance – but are women underrepresented in the Gulf’s product design industry?

Commercial Interior Design held a panel discussion titled ‘Product Design: A Confluence of Culture and Commerce’ last month in the Dubai Design District showroom of architectural surfaces firm Cosentino.

Among the topics that the five prominent product designers spoke candidly about was gender diversity.

Two of the co-founders of Egypt’s Talata design studio, Mona Ramzy and Mehry El Masry, panellists at the talk, revealed personal experiences of being a woman in product design.

Ramzy said she had not faced recognition challenges, when asked by Commercial Interior Design’s former editor, Shweta Parida, if she had faced any challenges related to gender imbalance.

“I think women are treated [fairly] in certain areas of design and I haven’t faced challenges as a woman in terms of my recognition as a designer at all,” she said.

“I might face challenges in dealing with my suppliers or in the business world. This is more of a challenge to me, I’m not always taken seriously, so I have to be more forceful, I have to be more on top of them.”

El Masry added that one of the best things about working in interior design is the greater proportion of women in leadership roles. Women have more of say in this industry than more male-dominated professions.

“I don’t feel like being woman affects how I’m perceived or how the project is perceived,” she said.

El Masry also suggested career-driven women face pressures to be perfect in both a professional and personal capacity.

“You’re expected to be the month, you’re expected to be the wife, you’re expected to be the businesswoman, and you’re expected to do them all perfectly. You cannot not be perfect in all of them… But will that stop women doing what they want? I don’t think so.”

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