DS 93: Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2018), Dyson School of Engineering, Imperial College, London. 6th - 7th September 2018

Year: 2018
Author: Barnhart, Betsy Rebecca; Walters, Kellie Kay
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Iowa State University, United States of America
Section: Gender Effects in Design and Engineering Education


Female industrial design students are not moving forward into industrial design practice. In education there is equal representation of men and women, however, women make up only 19% of the industry. We hypothesise that the industrial design style of sketching and the idolisation of the “Hot Sketch” has contributed to this disparity. A large part of industrial design education is dedicated to learning this style of sketching and is a critical skill set to show in order to enter the industrial design profession. Students who struggle with sketching are told to spend more time practicing alone after studio hours. We hypothesised that males at Iowa State University have more sketching skills than women, and that the industrial design sketching style has been equated to confidence, while the fine art style is typed as hesitant and unsure. This paper presents a research study conducted at Iowa State University showing the differences in men and women’s learning outcomes, perceptions of ability, and confidence in the industrial design sketching style. A survey and sketching assessment of the entire student body was partnered with semi-structured interviews to further understand the specifics of this gap in sketching ability, how students learned to sketch, and how student perception of stylised sketching effects their ability to learn this skill set, and subsequent progression into practice. We investigate the disparity in women’s sketching ability versus males, partnered with the perception of sketching styling, and how this may lead to women being seen as less knowledgeable, and males dominating our profession.

Keywords: Industrial Design, Sketching, Gender, Design Education


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