Why don't girls perform as well when it comes to guys in product design?

I’ve been wondering this for a while but in my product design class, the guys are always doing x2 work than the girls. They always have much better work and understand manufacturing and mechanical designs better, but why? The girls do tend to sit around and talk more, but I am only seeing this is only in the school studio. Nothing wrong with it. However, I do notice that most of them seem to cater to the guys and buy them food and constantly ask them pointless questions, which to me is pathetic, and then have to go as groups to get food or groceries. I never understood this. When we turn in final assignments, there is just this huge comparison in work, again, the guys outperforming the majority of the girls.
When I search for women product designers online, they are very difficult to find, and if I do find one, they are Asian. The majority of product designers, however, are men. Being a female, I never talk to anyone and waste time competing by working very hard :mad::mad: But again, why is it like this? Why can’t hard work be more appreciative?

Reported for forum change.


I am not sure what you’re asking here. It seems like you’re saying the men work twice as hard and get better results. This doesn’t really sound surprising.

And by product design, what do you mean? Inventors? Or improvers? Women have invented various things, just off the top of my head Liquid Paper correction fluid, windshield wipers, and parking meters.

Product designs in general, including inventions & improvement methods. Just learned in class this week that most products on the market are designed by men, but women do most of the family household shopping. Why aren’t more women designing/inventing products? And this pattern I am seeing in classes…I am very curious as to why this is.

Moved to IMHO.

Cathy967, this is the second thread of yours I’ve had to move. Please consider carefully the appropriate forum for your questions before posting.

General Questions Moderator

What level are you in school? High school? Undergrad? Graduate school? I’ve never been in a class where the guys were always doing 2x more work than girls, but I’ve never taken a product design class.

One could say that your class just happens to be that way - random chance threw a bunch of lazy ladies in with some dedicated men - and that the history of product design is a history of sexism.

And I’d probably agree with that latter part, that looking at history to determine an answer isn’t going to work. There has been too much sexism.

But the thing is, we don’t know when sexism stopped, or if it has stopped, or how long it will take for things to settle after it stops.

I could make a good argument that, for example, men use “being helpful” as an excuse to chat girls up. So whereas men have to figure things out on their own, they effectively cripple the women, because the women just have answers handed to them all of the time, and making sure that they really understand isn’t what the person doing the handing is interested in so after being handed the answer, they’re still liable to be a bit vague on why that’s the answer.

I could make a good argument that, for example, girls aren’t given heroes to look up to in engineering and science. They aren’t expected to do well in these fields by their parents or teachers. They’re told by society that they should just love puppies and want to be a vet, not out in their garage welding things together and blowing shit up in the back yard.

But at the same time, we have lesbian couples who try to raise good strong tomboys and effeminate boys saying that try as they might, the girls gravitate to playing with dolls and the boys will take any old twig and start pretending that it’s a sword or rifle. Now, that could be an artifact of societal pressure - other kids, TV, teachers, etc. - affecting things, but we also have examples like the Israeli kibbutz effort to raise kids without any such potential outside influences, as complete equals, regardless of gender, and they still found the kids gravitating towards some traditional gender-norms in terms of interest and proclivity. But then again, notably, all of the caretakers of the kids were female, enforcing stereotypes that women are the caretakers and who knows how good they really were at treating all the kids as the same.

There are some indications that men may be more likely to obsess, go overboard, etc. from criminal incarceration rates to just looking at personal collections of insane size and what the gender is of the owner. But, then again, it could be that if we raised children to be more gender neutral, that men would become less likely to commit crime and women more likely to. It could be that most insanely large collections are an aspect of having a better wage and having the ability, as the head of the household, to go overboard.

My person guess is that there are some biochemical differences between men and women that will make people more likely to behave in a certain way than someone of the opposite biological sex. But that there is a significant component of culture that pushes people in certain ways and hobbles them for certain things, needlessly, and it could take 3-4 more generations before we start to see things settle out on that front.

But, most importantly, even if we were to say that women are not predisposed to technical innovation, etc. - which I don’t think we can say, and I could offer some good reasons to think otherwise - that has no relevance to the one woman who is a master of technical innovation. If the other women in your class are airheads, that has nothing to do with you. If you’re a genius, a hard worker, amazingly creative, etc. then that’s just true. You can become an amazing product designer. And there should be nothing blocking you from achieving that success. There should be obstacles to keep the airheads out, but it should be keeping airheads out, male or female. No ones gender should have anything to do with anything.

I’m just a single data point, but I worked as a mechanical and aerospace structural engineer for 26 years. In that time, I came up with a few pretty good designs. Also some stinkers, but that’s how we learn, isn’t it? Education, experience, interest, challenge, opportunity, creativity - these all play into one’s approach to design. I’m not a “big picture” sort of person, but I’m good at smaller details, especially making things work with related parts and systems. But I don’t think that has anything to do with my plumbing.

Good points. To the OP’s question, a major contributing factor on the reason why there are more male than female product designers is because of historical gender bias — simply, because males have been designing products for thousands of generations, and societies have expected males to design products, much more than they have expected females to. Also, because of interest and desire. Historically, males have been more interested than females in designing products. And males historically have exhibited more mechanical inclination. Another possible reason, again this is conjecture, is because males might be more adept with spatial orientation, which could be a gender difference tendency, like a “Mars / Venus thing”.

Can this change? Most certainly it can. I fully expect it to. As more and more females get into product design, others will see that as a possible choice for them as well. How many young female race drivers have been inspired by Danica Patrick? And Janet Guthrie? And Sarah Fisher and Simona de Silvestro and Shirley (“Cha Cha”) Muldowney? The more that females design products, the more other females will want to do it too.

In my experience, females tend to be better than males at listening, observing, and they are more detail oriented too. Again these are general tendencies and not absolutes, and I imagine those traits are important for product designers.

It’ll happen, but it’ll take a little time — remember the curve of the logistic function, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logistic_function.




Enola Gay College

Cathy you are in a unique position to break this trend you see and be a role model for the young women that come after you.

There’s the generalization that men are more “spatially oriented” and better able to visualize in 3D or 2D; whereas women are better at social skills, empathy, etc. (IIRC, something like 60% of med school graduates now are women in some places) Some of this may be nurture rather than nature… but there’s no easy way to separate the two except by the anecdotal data mentioned in previous posts.

But of course, like any generalization - the overlap is probably larger than the difference, and general rules cannot be applied to any single person.

This would make more sense if you quoted which post you were responding to.

Personally I never thought of who designs something let alone the biological plumbing of the creator. I just figure out how it should be improved. And am usually disappointed with v2.0 as it always seems to boil down to reaching into my wallet more often.

That’s an obscure comment. What does it mean?

In case this is serious and not a whoosh, that was a reply to the questions of the poster Enola Gay.

It would be helpful if she quoted the posters she is replying to (and used punctuation and full sentences).

There is a sector which in many cultures is traditionally female when it comes to both design and execution: clothing. And it’s a field where in those same cultures women were expected to design and make products just as part of “woman’s work”. Being good enough to do it for pay was extra, every woman was supposed to at least know the basics. There have simply been a lot more fields where designers were expected to be male; changing that mindset is something which has already taken generations and will take several more.