More power to women

Design School Kolding puts male-dominated design industry on the agenda

Take a good look at the nominees for the 2019 Danish Design Award. Only one fifth of the 30 talents to receive one of the prestigious awards were women.

And it is not just on the podium of this award show that the men outnumber the women. A quick look at the industry at large confirms the trend. Far more men than women hold leading positions; a trend that is in stark contrast to the student gender distribution at the design schools. Almost 80 % of the students at Design School Kolding are women, and this tendency is reflected at KADK, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.

- Most design companies, at least here in Denmark, are run by men. There are not many role models for women to take example from. On top of that, women don’t get paid as much as their male colleagues! Sadly, all of the traditional inequality markers repeat themselves when it comes to the field of design. How can we change this? Rector Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen asks.

Powerful role
On 21 and 22 November Design School Kolding will host a workshop for women leaders from top international design universities who might hold some of the answers to this question.

- How do we achieve equality in design? How do we make sure that women succeed just as well as men in their professional life? Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen adds.

Under the headline Women in Design, the workshop participants will be discussing the design industry, which typically represents a frontrunner for major future changes.

- 21st century designers should play at least as powerful a role in the development of society as economists and engineers did during the 19th and 20th centuries. However, if designers are to master this role, we need to introduce a new type of leadership. Designers must free themselves of the leadership approach, which we have seen mostly men practice. In other words, we need to look to women for inspiration, and to feminine values. More influence to design and designers requires the presence of female leadership. We – all of us – have an obligation to inspire and advocate for this progress, says Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen.

Design School Kolding’s students are invited to join the discussions.