This is an excerpt of an email I sent Amy Papaelias a while ago on the topic of (few) women in design. So you know where I’m coming from.
Throughout all of my youth and adult life, I rarely to never considered that anything that happened or didn’t happen in my life has anything to do with my gender. I went to an all-girls (catholic) high-school. Naturally and unquestioned, we did everything there – science, sports, mathematics, programming (even if only super old-school Basic), cooking, building stuff … it never occurred to me that girls cannot or should not do anything they want. I actually wanted to study chemistry when I finished school. We had male teachers who were wimps and some who were hunks, we had teaching nuns and tough business lady types. If there was a conflict or bullying, we could be certain it was because of who knows what but not because we were girls. With this (maybe super naïve) mindset I went on to study and on to work. I still think it is a good basic attitude, paired with speaking up whenever you see issues or feel treated unfairly, but of course it comes with tons of mine fields I walked through and will proudly walk through in the future.
My advice for female designers: Don’t just do publication/book design and illustration, please. There are so many interesting fields in design besides these classically female dominated departments. Document your work, be an active part in the community, write and publish your thoughts and opinions (have opinions!), talk at conferences even if it’s scary (it is).
My advice for you others: educate and encourage girls, offer them flexible, equal jobs and an environment they want to work in. Be understanding about irrational fears, doubts and weird behavior. Ask their opinions, include them and just generally take them seriously and not only if they adopt male-manners.
Thank you Frau Uffelmann, who pushed through against my parents that I would coincidentally attend this school, Marienschule Fulda.