Women in web design: just the stats

The underrepresentation of women and minorities in the information technology workforce is like the weather: everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything.

In February 2007, Jason Kottke called our community on its inertia by publishing information showing the low percentage of female speakers at conferences about design, technology, and the web. One conference he cited was An Event Apart, which I founded with Eric Meyer.

How can conference organizers, employers and educators help our field better reflect the world we live in? One problem in deciding what to do about the issue is that, as is so often the case with matters of equality and justice, surprisingly little is known about the phenomenon or its causes. Feelings and anecdotes are plentiful, facts are scarce.

So An Event Apart commissioned a fact-finding mission. We hired researchers at The New York Public Library to find out everything that is actually known about the percentage of women in our field, and their positions relative to their male colleagues. Because such research could go on indefinitely, we assigned the project a budget and time-frame; researchers worked within those constraints.

The data they mined concerned women and minorities in the information technology (IT) workforce. IT was as close as we could come to our specific field. There is no data on web design and web designers. Web design is twelve years old, employs hundreds of thousands (if not millions), and generates billions, so you’d think there would be some basic research data available on it, but there ain’t. (Maybe A List Apart will gather such data one day, perhaps in collaboration with a logical partner like Boxes and Arrows.)

So the first disclaimer is that our research covers IT, not just web design. The second is that we’re still sifting the data we received. This is nothing like a final report. If a final report emerges, it will come from An Event Apart.

All that out of the way, the picture that emerges is disturbing:

  • Men outnumber women in this workforce by over three to one.
  • The percentage of women employed in the field is declining instead of growing.
  • Women who participate in the field may not be promoted as often or as high as their male colleagues.

Here, briefly cited, is a small portion of “Untapped Talent: Diversity, Competition, and America’s High Tech Future,” a 21 June 2007 special report by the Information Technology Association of America:

This study by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) finds that women and most racial minorities remain significantly underrepresented in today’s U.S information technology (IT) workforce. By examining data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Current Population Surveys, this report, like previous ITA diversity studies conducted in 1998 and 2003, documents the percentages of women and minorities in BLS occupational classifications that comprise the IT workforce in 2004 and compares them to previous years to determine the progression and regression of diversity. The data presentation is followed by a discussion of possible barriers to entry for underrepresented groups and solutions to overcoming those barriers. The report also highlights successful public- and private-sector groups that encourage more diversity and support women and minorities in IT.

The news here is not good: The percentage of women in the IT workforce has declined by 18.5% since 1996, from a high of 41% in 1996 to 32.4% in 2004. This is true even while the percentage of women in the overall workforce remained relatively unchanged. Women are also far less likely to return to the IT workforce….

The declining representation of women is due largely to the fact that one out of every three women in the IT workforce fall into administrative job categories that have experienced significant overall declines in recent years. When those categories are excluded from the analysis, the percentage of women in IT drops from 32.4% to 24.9%. The figures represent no progress in the numbers of women in the professional or management ranks from the relatively low 25.4% mark achieved in 2002. At best, the data suggest that the number of all women in the IT industry is dropping substantially; at worst, these statistics illustrate a situation in which women are failing to advance in the managerial and professional ranks and the IT industry is failing to draw on a critical talent base.

Clearly, there is much to be done. Stay tuned.

[tags]diversity, IT, design, webdesign, women, workforce[/tags]

95 thoughts on “Women in web design: just the stats

  1. I’m glad someone is looking at numbers, even if they are a bit depressing.

    There’s another facet to this: I’m sure its not a coincidence that 90% of my clients are women. Perhaps taking women seriously as designers goes hand in hand with taking women seriously as web consumers.

  2. Interesting article – can’t wait to see more.

    I can testify that, I am a woman, and that I have been a web designer/web user interface design for over 10 years and have never worked with another women web designer. Full Stop.

    I wonder – what is the rate for women going into design school? Why aren’t they making into the web field? (I didn’t go to design school, totally self taught, so I have no idea, but it could be a related issue.)

  3. I’m sure its not a coincidence that 90% of my clients are women. Perhaps taking women seriously as designers goes hand in hand with taking women seriously as web consumers.

    Half of Happy Cog is female and half our clients are women. Hmm…

  4. @Lisa: You brought up something I never realized before — 90% of *my* clients are women too. It can’t be a coincidence.

    Maybe it’s not just about taking women seriously as web consumers, but taking women seriously as business owners too.

  5. I do think there is a lot more woman in web design than thought. Just lots of us woman are not widely known like the guys; yourself, Eric Meyer, Shaun Inman, to name a few. Speaking for myself, I don’t feel the need to be known as web developer. I can imagine lots of woman are also mother. So they do their job but also tend to their family. Not much time to travel around to conferences.

  6. In my professional field, I work as a web developer in an IT department, and the department consists of 4 men and 2 women. The 2 women are both actively involved with the website and database, whereas I am the only guy (the other three are techs or managers). I think it depends on how the company you work for favors women for positions over men – our company’s staff is about 2/3rds women, so the numbers make sense.

  7. I originally trained as an industrial designer and we have an even greater discrepancy in that field. When discussing this issue in school, the consensus (among the mostly male group) seemed to be that if you’re a good designer you can design for any client to matter how much that person’s taste or background or gender differs from yours.

    As to why there are so few female industrial and web designers, I have no idea, but it would be great to find out and remedy the situation.

  8. I agree with Travis. I don’t think gender should be a consideration. I don’t consider it when hiring or in other circumstances. Do men bring something different to the workplace? Do women? Is it sexist or discriminatory to say they do? Bringing up the numbers like this kind of has the insinuation that it’s someone holding “them” down. Your post also said “Women who do participate in the field may not be promoted as often or as high as their male colleagues.” I once again get the feeling that the insinuation is because some is devaluing their work because of gender and I would disagree. If women were somehow so much cheaper to hire then wouldn’t the workforce represent that? Wouldn’t we see 80% women and 20% men? Or could materinity leave and other women semi-specific issues affect the value of employees also? At work I try to value people for who they are and they’re ability to bring value to an organizaiton regardless or race, religion, or gender (or color of shirt or… :-) ).

  9. Darice has a good point, and one that isn’t talked about much in these discussions about the underrepresentation of women in technology. I don’t want to downplay the impact of cultural attitudes toward girls studying math & science, the glass ceiling, 75 cents on the dollar salaries, etc., but… I think the substantially higher *visibility* of men in these fields over women has much to do with the instinctive behaviors of the genders. Men are genetically programmed to beat their chests, sing their own praises, exaggerate their conquests. There are more men speaking at conferences because there are more men than women who want (or need) to talk about their work in public. Demonstrating prowess and gaining public acknowledgment of said prowess is a large part of the male ego.

    I think what would go a long way toward even-ing out the numbers, at least at conferences, would be to cultivate women’s confidence and “bravado” about their work, and instill an attitude among working women that mirrors that of men, i.e., your work is amazing and the world needs to know about it; go forth and brag. Unfortunately, good work rarely speaks for itself. We need to coach women to promote themselves.

  10. Brenda, I agree. More men brag than women; it seems to be a culturally learned behavior. Several absolutely brilliant women I know cannot be persuaded to write or lecture or otherwise promote themselves. Anecdotally, among female and male colleagues, there’s a concensus that women, however smart and talented, are less likely than men to put themselves forward. We all miss out by not hearing their voices.

  11. Interested findings. I say interesting rather than surprising because that is what I would have expected judging by my experience in the field that last few years.

    Are women becoming less interested in IT/Web Design/Web Development? Are they being pushed out in favor of the boys? Have they found better jobs with better pay that don’t involve retooling design comps ten times because the font color is quite right? No se.

  12. This is a tricky area once you leave the numbers behind. Travis, it’s not that gender matters so much in the design, but it does seem to impact everything else. Salary, industry respect, client attitudes, etc. I’ve just left a position at a small firm that was staffed almost entirely by females (with one lone male programmer), and after reading these responses, I’m realizing that the majority of our clientele were also female (I’d never noticed that before). I think, unfortunately, that many women, even those who have conquering attitudes in the business world, fall into the socially-driven psychological trap that technology is a big scary place dominated by men (the statistics are depressing, but not THAT extreme). So when they find a woman who can help them navigate that area, they’re relieved. Good for female-driven business, certainly, but does it ultimately impact the design? I don’t think so. Not at a competitive firm, anyway.

    JD, my graduating class at Parsons was predominantly female, and vastly so. I can count the men in my class on one hand. I have no idea what’s happening at other design schools, but Parsons is definitely sending women out into the field.

    Brenda, while I’m all for women being generally more assertive (isn’t this a generational thing? Few of my peers seem to have this issue: I am 31), I find your point about “instinctive behavior of the genders” as sexist and outdated as the idea that women shouldn’t be in tech in the first place. Going by your outline, I apparently am mentally more of a man. Sheesh. Leadership in itself is not a male or female quality (though certain styles of leadership certainly accommodate gender stereotypes). Neither is success. My point is that these statistical numbers are being driven by other forces (social, financial), not some gender-based instinct.

    I am a voracious reader of industry websites about design (graphic and web), trends, etc. Where I see women thriving is in team environments, either within firms or on blogs. Where I do not see women thriving is on solo voice web industry sites. In my experience, many of these sites fail on issues of aesthetic and content — I just can’t take someone seriously who chooses to employ girly visual stereotypes (ex. pink, flowers) and/or pepper their otherwise valuable industry content with gushy bits about their kids that should be on personal sites instead. These sites make me embarrassed to be a woman in the field. I’m not saying that girliness is bad, and that there isn’t any place for pink (hey, pink abounds in the Web 2.0 palette), but when the person generating content goes out of their way to call attention to the fact that — even on a professional level — they are female first, web designer second, I get annoyed. Just as I do when men exhibit similar behaviors on the opposite extreme end of the spectrum of gender (perhaps there are just as many men putting gender first, but there are plenty who aren’t in a male-dominated field, so it’s not as noticeable). The reality is that within a competitive industry, you have to maintain some level of gender neutrality. On the frontend, you should be able to generate designs that appeal to a range of clients, male and female. On the backend, code doesn’t respond differently to a male or female mind.

    So why are those numbers declining? Perhaps women are shifting from tech positions into creative positions — those employment opportunities are increasing, and the industries are certainly linked. But more info and research is definitely needed. Thanks, Jeffrey, for getting this ball rolling.

  13. I am a women web designer and know of quite a few women designers in the field that I have worked with. I wonder if your research is looking at freelance designers at all? So much of web design is done by the freelance market that the numbers would be skewed and the percentages would increase.

    My client base is appx 60% men and 40% women.

    Great info though. I really don’t mind being a minority at all. Some would consider it an asset :)

  14. As a minority female, I’ve owned a successful web company for 7 years and have made a few observations:
    1. Most male clients do not take me seriously at first. I have to “prove” myself to them. They do not display this attitude with my male coworkers.
    2. Either a male client is “pleasantly surprised” by my abilities or they find them threatening. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
    3. It’s easier for me to just assign a male coworker to work with a male client that displays these tendencies.
    4. I’ve spoken at conferences and noticed that men pay closer attention to other male speakers than women speakers. They also seem to challenge the women more on the topics. I really feel that many men are threatened by a woman knowing more than them on a topic in their field.

    To be honest, I’ve actually left projects/jobs because of sexist attitudes and comments and I’ve known other women that have as well. I think many of us just get tired of having to prove ourselves.

  15. I find the comments discombobulating because we’re looking at women in IT and women in web design. Regarding the women in web design head count and statistically speaking, I wonder if there are a number of women not included in statistics because we don’t have “web designer” in our job titles. Contract work or projects executed under the table (for moonlighting or tax purposes) may be excluded from consideration?

    Thank you for taking on this fact-finding mission and I do eagerly look forward to discussions about these statistics, women in technology in general, and the action items we will arrive at to “do something about it” — cheers, ~ang*e

  16. Just to point out further, The New York Times ran a related article about the computer science industry’s attempt to boost more interest from women. From my entirely anecdotal experience, I’ve taken away a handful of different impressions as to why there is such a perceived disparity.

    At least on the technical side of things, there is a lot more interest from males at a younger age. That’s how it was when I was growing up and that wasn’t all that long ago. There were always more boys in the tech programs/classes and we had no design classes, only fine art. The tech loving boys were often not the most socially adept people, and I would wager that many girls interested in the same subjects were often put off by the awkward behavior. It’s probably much easier to get into almost any field if you’ve put interest and effort into it from an early age.

    Once I hit college, there were definitely more females represented among my design/tech classes, but a lot of the ones interested in web work got into it for the wrong reasons and either had to work harder to adjust or just never ‘got it’. I ran into a good handful that had great fine art skills but wanted to make the move to web design/dev because they enjoyed using IM or email. This is probably one of the things that leads to women having to prove themselves when they are otherwise outstanding at what they do. One person can ruin it for the rest.

    I think all of this can easily change though. Computers didn’t used to be so socially acceptable along with being in every home and now they are. Maybe if grade schools provided more design and technology courses that weren’t considered to be fringe and for the nerds who didn’t shower (just like when I was in high school) then more girls would get interested early on. Maybe this isn’t necessary anymore and just the widespread home computer usage will lead to a lot more exploration of the industry among girls from the safety of their home. I think the early adoption really is the key. How many of the men in the web industry didn’t have an interest in traditionally nerdy subjects as a kid? My assumption would be the minority.

  17. I’d query your use of the IT industry as the comparison – in the UK web design is placed within the media industries and quite a lot of research has been done on the position of women within it, along with people from different social classes and ethnic backgrounds.

    The figures are worrying on all counts. You can read one of the reports, looking at interactive media, by Skillset, a government-funded (but independent) agency here: http://www.skillset.org/uploads/pdf/asset_8883.pdf (page 22 specifically)

    To summarise the figures:
    Women make up 33% of the web workforce in the UK, ethnic minorities make up just 10% (this figure is a lot worse than it looks, because the industry is predominantly based in London and major cities where ‘ethnic minorities’ are very nearly the majority!) and those with disabilities make up only 2%.

    I contributed to some of Skillset’s research last year and found that there were several factors at play – the ones I was interested in for that particular project were the issues of ‘social capital’ and ‘cultural capital’, that if you grow up in a region where there is no media production centre you will be less likely to see that industry as one offering opportunities, less likely to be encouraged to pursue them, and less likely to be accepted. (I was looking at applications to study courses in design, media production etc at university and college).

    While there is some truth to the issues of ‘chest beating’ that explains why the speakers at conferences are predominantly male, this does not explain the poor representation of women etc within the industry, one that given its situation, should actually be agnostic in terms of gender, race etc (i.e. it’s easier to operate as a web designer without meeting or even speaking to clients).

    It’s interesting that while speakers at (for want of a better word) ‘celebrity’ events are predominantly male, if you go to academic conferences you may find the balance more equal, which suggests, maybe, that women are more interested in sharing and learning from peers rather than operating didactically as ‘experts’ (but I’m guessing!)

    But there are lots of factors at play, some to do with how women etc perceive the industry, how women etc are perceived, and so on.

    So in short, I’d recommend a) a fuller literature search as research in this area is being done (in the UK if nowhere else) b) using the media/creative industries as your study area rather than IT and c) including other ‘minorities’ within your research as the groups share common factors and it would be useful to be able to crack several nuts with the same hammer to save time and money!

    I’d also suggest teaming up with a university-based research team and getting state funding to help investigate the issue, and using qualitative research methods to explain the quantitative data – there’s only so much that statistics can tell you. The next stage is to start talking to people.


  18. strange, the first job i had (as a developer) was in an office where i was the only male developer (i live in the uk) O_o

    it is true however that in general the percentage of women in the IT workforce (at least in the more technical roles) is low. not sure about ethnic minorities though, at the moment i am the only white british guy on my development team. perhaps my experience is not the norm, however i would question whether both genders would be equally interested in any given career given the same opportunities.

    for example, my sister in law is a clinical pyschologist. the percentage of men in that field is tiny, are you equally as outraged?? you cannot divide up the population into percentages and then simply apply them to a job market – that is politically correct nonsense.

  19. I agree with Brian’s emphasis on early adoption — I started using a computer in 1981, as a six year old (my dad brought one home from the university and we played math games and Hunt the Wumpus on it). As a girl, I definitely think that’s made the difference as far as confidence with technology. It’s a side topic, but is anyone aware of programs that encourage girls to get involved with technology? And what sort of success they have in schools? To bring it back specifically to the topic, I’d be curious to know what percentage of the women studied have tech training (degrees, certificates, taught on the job, etc.).

  20. Just as people from different cultural backgrounds have different perspectives and ideas because of that culture and their experiences, similarly in my experience I’ve observed that men and women bring different points of view to the table of design – and from that angle I think it would be beneficial to the industry to have better representation of women in the industry.

    There are vast ranges of different in thinking in each gender so it’s not possible to divide down the middle, but certainly I have observed differences in the two streams of thought and the way problems are approached, ideas generated and worked through.

    Just the same as we endorse User Centred design principles to prevent a single-sided approach to design, so we should endorse a good mix of women and men in the profession.

    I don’t think this is the ONLY reason we should address this concern, but certainly this is one point that I want to contribute to the discussion.

    BTW I am the only male in my web team.

  21. I can only observe the experiences of my daughter. She has been treated like a secind class citizen when it comes to programming. Guys seen to treat it like a boys club. She had a good job that she walked away from. She could not stand the posturing and the “I went to this school” B.S. While she is competitive she applies it differently and focuses that energy on the project. Not braging about herself.

  22. I should also just mention though that our web team supports a government division and we have more of a content focus than technical or design.

    Although here’s a funny quote one of the women in my team just made in regards to this issue:

    “I always feel every tech team NEEDS a man though”

  23. I’m a woman and a web developer myself. Here in Spain where i live nobody really believes it until they talk to me, most of them think they must have missread my name and surely i should be a guy.
    Later when they realize, they can react in two ways: 1) Some of them think it’s great to have a woman on board as we are supposed to be more aware of the details and the color trends, and 2) Most of them ask me to show them how i work, some have send my code to third parts to verify my skills (and that’s highly anoying) but when they come back to me they have forgotten i am a girl and they only think in the ‘good’ code i gave them.

    We must work together in this field but before you (the men) can do something we have to save us from ourselves. We seem to be afraid of show who we are and if we want things to change we have to be really proud of being women, webdevelopers and, in the end, human beings like the rest.

  24. I am a Comp Eng graduate who didn’t know how email worked till I was 16 (am 23 now). Even though, we were all studying for Comp Eng degree, most of the men in my batch hardly knew how a computer works – let alone – about Computer Engineering. So, I dont think it matters if girls get introduced to technology earlier or later. Frankly it is more of an aptitude thing. I discovered web design through my boyfriend who showed me the Designing with Web Standards by Zeldman and things were never the same again. I learned about web standards/HTML the way every one does – by myself.

    I now run my own business selling to the niche market of those who want standards compliant design. Of course, people do think i am a “guy” by default – until I point otherwise.

    In that sense, i love talking and exchanging ideas about technology and new trends – which often leaves me with men for company – as I hardly find any other women who are interested in such discussions. I find that the “conversion ratio” once someone is introduced to all things “technology” is slightly higher in men than women. Perhaps it is perception that “it is a guy thing to do” (perhaps thats why i was more interested coz i didnt want to do “girlie” things).

  25. You can count atleast 45 women (and growing) from http://www.devchix.com/. We have just recently been discussing the decline of women in comp sci in particular. Desi, our founder, have been encouraging us to help other women in programming and to give back to the community by blogging. We invite women we meet in conferences and local group meetings.

  26. Its all about rockstars. How many women are rockstars? None, they’re all divas. You say “Huh??” Men are easily considered rockstars even if they’re of middling talent and popularity. Women on the other hand are more likely to be labelled ‘divas’ or ‘pop princess’ or something else that is in some way derrogative. Afterall, ‘diva’ can mean godess, (ie a rarity – itself a sexist assumption), but it can also suggest a woman who is high strung, high maintenance and generally bitchy.

    Now, here’s where this applies to the talk at hand:
    Men traditionally (and currently) are more likely to, as Jeffrey said, beat their chests, grunt, light fires and otherwise promote themselves. I know, I know, ladies do this as well in our modern era, but c’mon, go to any random bar or two and tell me honestly that men aren’t more aggressive. Basic biology or longstanding tradition, either way, its a fact and not likely to vanish anytime soon as much as we might want it to.

    In trendy (oooh endless HTML coding!) industries like web/graphic design and some IT, coolness and bravado are still (wrongly) given a great deal of import. Who hasn’t worked with an art director with a bit of rockstar ego?? Its easier for men to accrue a ‘rockstar’ reputation; power, ‘cool’, innovation, rebellion, bravado, technical proficience, are all still by and large masculine values. Men, more likely to participate in this alpha-dog behaviour promote themselves, each other and their system. The internet, wild west that it is, is a perfect place for identities (real or imagined) to be projected, branded (zeldman.com anyone?) and incorporated directly into a business model.

    So, with regard to business, especially on the internet where reputation is everything, who gets the dollas? The rockstars, and companies with supergroups of rockstars. Can women become rockstars? Should they? Maybe its not about image/reputation, maybe it is just about college entrance rates etc. But with a lot if not most colleges in North America admitting more female than male students, I doubt it. Somewhere there’s a disconnect and I’m betting that our love for and conflation with a rockin and rollin, internet, indie-nerd, hardcore, ‘new media’, 2.0 lifestyle has got somethin to do with it.

  27. I’m still at a loss as to why this matters. Is it the role of the IT or design industries to artificially induce gender parity simply because at the moment it doesn’t exist? What about all the other industries with a gender bias (things like careworking, beauticians, professional sportsmen)?

    The burning question for me is, what are the negative effects of this gender bias? Are we, as an industry, suffering as a result of it? Also, are women being denied opportunities in entering the industry, or are they simply not as interested in joining it as men?

  28. Hm, how about making one of those fancy print stylesheets, Mr. Zeldman? Would make printing interesting posts like this quite a bit easier. :-)

  29. Ben – it matters if the gender imbalance is the result of social factors. It would be wrong to artificially induce a balance of course, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that women are being kept out of the industry for various reasons.

    Some of these will be down to the cultural representation of the role of ‘web designer’. If you look at research done in to this field you’ll find that the images we grow up with have a profound effect on what we perceive as culturally normal. So if every time we read a book on web design and it’s by a man, or go to a talk about web design and it’s by a man, we receive the idea that web design is a man’s job. It is wrong to dismiss this as ‘political correctness’, it is simply a fact, and unfortunately the only real way to address it may well be to intervene through what is often called ‘positive discrimination’, i.e. by events ensuring there is an equal balance, by publishers seeking out female authors and so on, until the negative gender representation (I use the word in its cultural context) is altered.
    It matters if you believe there are a lot of women out there who would make excellent (or even just average) web designers but who are currently ‘told’ explicitly or implicitly that it is not a career for them. the problem is, as i said above, the statistics don’t give us the full picture. they can tell us how many women are in the industry, but not why that is the case. The need, therefore, is for qualitative data.

    My own area of expertise is graphic design. I can tell you that in the UK there is a slight majority of female students on graphic design courses, but that the industry is male-dominated, especially at higher levels. Why is that? Is it because women are not as good at graphic design as men? No. Is it because women are not as ambitious as men? No. Is it because women take career breaks? Perhaps. Is the industry inflexible when it comes to career breaks? Seems to be so. Is that down to inherent policies that can be changed? Most definitely.

    But in web design, it could be possible that the fast pace of change means that anyone taking a career break (whether male or female) finds it harder to catch up when returning. So does this put people off? Perhaps – we need qualitative data. Is there something that can be done about it? Perhaps – we need data before the strategy.

    What we don’t need is people assuming it doesn’t matter. If it is the result of inherent approaches that disadvantage some people, then it is wrong. And if it potentially disadvantages the industry or society, it is also wrong. But until we look in to it, we will not know.

  30. I disagree with you for once: I do not think that the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the information technology workforce is like the weather: sure everybody talks about it, sure nobody does anything, but also quite sure: unlike the weather, anybody can do something about it.

    The question is: should we? All we care for is still the same, whether there’s a female or a male designer working on it. Accessibility, usability and the like…

    I once was working in a team where I was the only male designer. I could not have cared any less. Believe it or not. No really.

  31. More men brag than women; it seems to be a culturally learned behavior. Several absolutely brilliant women I know cannot be persuaded to write or lecture or otherwise promote themselves.

    OH MY GOD, YES. I cannot tell you how frustrating that is. I know SO many brilliant women, but to a fault, they REFUSE to get up in front of people.

  32. I’m very interested in seeing the final report that you guys put together. I think if you could narrow the data to be specific to web/graphic design, you’d see slightly more female friendly numbers. When I graduated from the graphic design program at UCF in 2003, there were probably 2 girls per guy in the class. I’m not sure how many of my female classmates went into web as opposed to print, but I know a few have made their way into great jobs at AOL, Bright House, and as freelance web designers. The thing that bothers me most though is the underrepresentation of racial minorities in our field.

  33. I agree that there is a lack of women web designers. I am currently a senior at The Art Institute of Atlanta. The are a lot more men than women and the entire department is the smallest out of all the disciplines. I think there’s a stereo type that women are creative, therefore can only be designers, yet men are more analytical and therefore able to excel in programming. I’d like to think that I can do both pretty well. I think in the next-gen of web designers, women will be represented more so than today. How can we ensure this? Maybe if successful women web designers were on the ‘Front Page’ so to speak like a Zeldman, or a Santa Maria, the new gen would have someone to look up to as a source of inspiration or mentor(Ladies if there are any takers, I’d love to get to know you :-)

  34. I think the majority of women have different priorities and values when it comes to business in general, not just IT. For those in the UK that watched the times 100 rich list last night, Peter Jones mentioned that the list was dominated by men. He might have gone to back this up with something but I nodded off (yes I know it was said quit early on in the show – I can thank Mr Grigio for that!).

    Anyhoo, I don’t think it’s anything to do with capabilities and I don’t think women design differently from men either, it’s just that women don’t have the type of ego that needs to be massaged by an audience. Women are martyrs to the cause to the detriment of themselves, perhaps.

  35. The question is: should we? All we care for is still the same, whether there’s a female or a male designer working on it. Accessibility, usability and the like…

    This is not about caring who designed something but why women are being kept out of the industry. The answer is: yes, we should be doing something about it.

    I think the evidence supports the conclusion that the underrepresentation of women is a result of the way the industry is organised, and this is not something that can be defended.

  36. I am a web design instructor at an online private career college, and I just ran some numbers. Of my 61 web design students and grads in the last couple of years, 36 of them are female. That means that 59% of my successful WD students are women.

    Possibly more interesting is the fact that of 32 students who enrolled and didn’t complete their program, only 11 of them were female – so 34%. More men enrolled, but more women finished what they started.

    Overall, the split is 46/92 – exactly 50%.

  37. I had a successful executive level IT career, and I can tell you it is a rough place for a woman. I was never able to escape the endless speculation that I had obviously slept with every male in a position of power, and my predominantly male staff required endless showdowns of power, which of course made me a b*tch. So I quit, and created a successful little web design firm, and I am just not interested in public presence, conferences, a list blogging, etc. In addition to the enormous amount of work a small business requires, there are also groceries to buy and a teenager to corral – the typical challenges of a working mother. My clients are a good mix of male/female.

  38. IT was as close as we could come to our specific field.

    I know you add a disclaimer as well, but your data will be really incomplete if you’re only looking for workers in IT. If there is no data on web design as such, you need to look at graphic design as well. There is almost certainly data on that and I suspect you’ll find a lot more women.

    While there is overlap with both fields, web design as a profession often has a lot more in common with graphic design than it does with many of the specific professions in IT. Doesn’t IT usually include things like network administration, computer maintenance and the like? There are fewer unrelated analogues in graphic design.

  39. Two people at CMU did research on women in computer science and many of the findings can be generalized as to the relationship between women and IT or web design or other computing-related fields.

    I highly recommend their book, Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing, MIT Press, 2002, ISBN 0262133989. HEre is their site.

    Their findings from talking to female computer science students in college:
    – When we interview males and females about their history, attachments and concerns about computing, we hear more females contextualize their interest in computer science within a larger purpose: what computing can do in the world, linking computer science to other arenas, rather than focusing on the workings of the computer alone. More of the males, on the other hand, express their interest primarily in terms of enjoyment of the computer itself and learning all there is to know about computing, focusing peripheral attention and concern for specific context. By and large, the existing culture and institutions of computer science serve the typical male model of the field better than others.
    – Many women do enter undergraduate computer science with less computing experience than their male peers…Yet when women students encounter difficulty with course work, these comparisons between their experience and that of their mostly male peers can become the kiss of death. A wide range of psychological, socialization, and pedagogical factors contribute to women perceiving themselves as “picking up ideas slower” and their male students as “so good without even trying.”
    – Much other research and our own observations point both to the fact that men tend to exaggerate their achievements more than women, and that men are more likely to attribute their successes and failures in a self-affirming way than are women (Eccles 1992; Dweck 1986; Licht and Shapiro 1982). Strenta found that “even with the same grades in science and other courses, women in science were less confident of their abilities and more depressed about their academic performance than men” (Strenta et al. 1994, 543).
    – Most of the students, male and female, were first introduced to computing by a parent who either works on computers themselves or brings one home for the child. School is almost incidental, except in a few cases. Male students, with only a few exceptions, reported owning their own computer, or having the family computer in their room, by an early age. Females’ stories are filled with descriptions of watching their dad work at the computer, or having their older brother show them how he programs the machine.
    – Twenty percent of the female computer science majors we interviewed have questioned if they belong in computer science because they feel they do not share the same intensity of focus and interest they see in their male peers. Women describe wanting to talk about other things besides computers, feeling estranged from those who are myopically focused on a machine.
    – The computing culture, in particular, reflects the history and legacy of actual “boy wonders.” The widely-held expectation that there is one way (the male way) to come to science shapes the expectations and assumptions of parents, teachers, and students themselves. As women begin their undergraduate computer science education, and perceive that men go through the program with more experience, less effort and more interest, too many women conclude they do have to look “like him” in order to succeed. Women begin to question their ability and their interest — whether it is “enough.” Success is linked to a stereotype based on a common male pattern of desires, interests, and attachments to computing. Hence it bolsters men’s confidence and sense of belonging.
    – Research shows that both males and females believe that males are better than females at computing (Clarke 1992; Spertus 1991). These low expectations for female students becomes part of a biased social environment, often manifested in the form of peer-to-peer interactions. Comments from male peers, which may appear incidental or random, accumulate to make women feel undervalued, and unwelcome (Valian 1998; Spertus 1991). Women report being faced with comments like “You are a computer science major and you don’t know that?” if they don’t know a technical detail or ask a question.

  40. Without numbers about women in web design, isn’t this whole discussion pointless? Anecdotal evidence is great — and I don’t see the anecdotal evidence here as supporting the headline — but this whole discussion seems like, if I may make an analogy to the wonderful CAPTCHA on this page. “No one knows whether ice is hot or cold. Now what are we going to do about the fact that ice is hot?”

  41. Anon. said:

    you need to look at graphic design as well. There is almost certainly data on that and I suspect you’ll find a lot more women.

    The annual, world-famous AIGA/Aquent Salary Survey is the principal source of such data. This year’s survey …

    “…draws from an extensive pool of designers and others allied with the profession nationwide, and includes responses from more than 3,600 design professionals. The surveys are widely recognized as the most comprehensive surveys of compensation conducted in these professional positions.”

    The data is brilliantly broken out by job title and by region. But not by gender, as far as I can see. AIGA has started an Initiative on Diversity, which makes me wonder if a future version of the job survey might include looking at salary by gender, ethnicity, or national origin. I’m not speaking for AIGA, I’m just guessing.

    If anyone knows of studies that do for graphic design what the studies we’ve looked at did for IT, please share.

    There are IT people who do web design as part of their jobs; and there are designers who do web design as part of their jobs. And then there are web designers who do web design pretty much to the exclusion of everything else.

    That we’re splitting hairs over whether IT or graphic design is the more accurate category for research kind of reinforces my point that there’s no “web designer” category — and there ought to be.

  42. Aside from the off-putting male posturing that is commonplace on blogs, forums and discussion lists, I haven’t experienced much sexism in the web design/development community. Most of my clients are men, and they do take me seriously. But then, my client niche is non-profits working for environmental/peace/social causes, not money-hungry corporations, so maybe I’m only meeting the more enlightened men.

    On the other hand, the programming community is just awful. I attended my first programming conference a few months ago and out of 150 attendees I was one of maybe six women (if you count the marketing person who set up shop in the hallway). Everyone we met assumed I was only there to be with my husband, when in fact he was with me! It reminded me of the first time I walked into a guitar shop. The sales clerks alternately ignored me, showed me to the cheap pink/paisley/flower-shaped bass/acoustic guitars (when I’d specifically asked to look at the mid-range electric Gibsons!), and hit on me. So far the programming community has proven just as bad.

  43. First of all, can we agree that web design is not 13 years old? I’ve been doing it for 12 years, since Compuserve days, but that “web design” was not the same web design as today. Not even close! And yet we still get applicants (veterans and new graduates alike) who still think web design consists of knowing Dreamweaver. (!) Web design today with css and xhtml is an entirely different field, and not a mature discipline, imho. Does that have a gender effect, as some have suggested? I don’t know.

    The problem with conferences, though, I feel is an entirely different bird. Conferences want “real” people, and to be “real,” you have to either (a) written books, (b) have an exceptionally successful blog or (c) have VC funding. Otherwise you’re invisible.

    All the women I know who are in web design/development are busy doing it, often freelance because that’s the only way they can do it. As such, we are perhaps too busy and/or too cash-strapped to be able to afford traipsing around to conferences and conventions.

    … And since we’re bootstrapping ourselves (and I mean the real bootstrapping, not the “Oh we’re bootstrapping with only $2 million!” kind of bootstrapping) and making money from earnings, not from angel funding, we’re not “real” enough to be sought out — that is if we’re noticed at all. (I’ve spoken three times at two conferences, and I’m fairly confident nobody reading this knows who the heck I am — and why should you, since I don’t speak at a lot of conferences and am not getting written up in the VC buzz. Maybe most of the women commenting here could say the same?)

  44. ” I agree. More men brag than women; it seems to be a culturally learned behavior… ”

    You mix anecdotal and statistical information. All this does is weaken your argument in my mind…

    Also, I saw nothing in the quoted article regarding the correlation of percentage reductions to the general downturn in the economy starting in 2000, outsourcing, and other factors that have hit developer/designer employment over the past decade.

    Bottom line, your arguments are incomplete and do nothing but stoke emotions rather than promote informed discourse.

  45. I’m not sure about the rest of the US, but I have been in some field of the tech/computer industry for over 10 years, and I haven’t seen the number of women decline. If anything, I feel like slightly less of a minority than I used to.

    I recently left game development for web development, and am one of four backend web devs at a company specializing in downloadable, casual games. The other three on my team are all men. Of the designer/artist team, only one is a woman– the art lead. She runs a team of four men. These numbers aren’t indicative of the entire company, however; we’re probably fairly close to 50/50, if I’m not mistaken. But most of the women here are in administrative or business development positions. (Etc.)

    Something that was brought up at a fairly recent Women In Game Development conference was our need to really learn how to network. I think it sort of ties in with our dislike for self-promotion. From everything I’ve witnessed during my career, the men I’ve worked with have been far, far better at those things than the women. This needs to be addressed.

    I consider myself to be suitably assertive, enjoy networking to a certain degree, and have realized the benefits of drawing managers’ attention to my work every now and then. But like others here have said, there is always, always, always pressure to “prove” myself. I’m sure quite a bit of that is self-imposed, as I am a very driven, goal-oriented person, but I know that at least some is from an external force.

    One thing I usually rant about during GDC’s women’s roundtables is the need for those of us in the industry to be more visible to young women. To show them that, no, really, it _is_ okay to be into things like math, science, and computers. Having “nerdy” interests is not going to make you a social pariah for the rest of your life. :) It’s fun!

    Video games originally got me interested in technology. (“Math Mansion” was totally awesome on the Commodore 64, heh!) I think that as computers and video game consoles become more ubiquitous, more girls are going to grow up using them. As the years go by, I think it will be inevitable that more and more women will enter fields that have been traditionally male-dominated.

    At some point, when I’m not overwhelmed with full-time work and 3/4-time school, I’d like to organize some sorts of Women in Engineering type visits to local schools.

  46. That we’re splitting hairs over whether IT or graphic design is the more accurate category for research kind of reinforces my point that there’s no “web designer” category — and there ought to be.

    In the UK it is a category within ‘interactive media’, as shown in the report I linked to above.
    However, there’s a problem with categories – within design you have graphic, web, advertising, packaging, product, engineering, interior, textile, jewellery, fashion, stage and so on. And within those fields you have people who operate well and truly inside the boundries, and others who operate across boundaries.
    With web design do you mean coders or designers, coders who design, designers who code, designers who don’t code, coders who don’t design etc etc.

    When setting up the research parameters you need to specify whether you are going to be specific (in which case others will claim ‘that’s not relevant to our situation’), or general (which muddies the water as a higher representation of women in one field will lessen the drama of virtual non-representation of women in another) or do you simply follow an ‘attitudinal’ approach which is to describe those who in turn describe themselves as web designers.

    But I don’t think it’s splitting hairs, Jeffrey. If you want the research to be taken seriously you need to use the correct model and I would suggest that is the creative industries rather than the IT industries. It’s the design shops that people go to for web sites, even though they in turn may employ coders or whatever, and if you were to ask people at school what area they think they need to be strong in if they want to become web designers they’d say ‘design’ before ‘programming’. And as the question of why women are not getting in to the industry starts with schools, careers advisors, teachers and parents, I’d start where they start.

    With this question, it’s not important how those within the industry see web design, but how those outside it see it.

  47. Tom – you’re making the classic mistake of believing this article is the end of the story. It isn’t.

    You mix anecdotal and statistical information. All this does is weaken your argument in my mind…
    The key here is attitude, and so you need to adopt a research methodology which privileges anecdotal evidence. Something like grounded theory, for example. Anecdotes are important because they shape social constructions of reality. (e.g. a woman says ‘my daughter wants to be a graphic designer, but I hear it’s difficult for girls to get on in that business’ – it may be ‘anecdotal’ but it has a profound effect.

    saw nothing in the quoted article regarding the correlation of percentage reductions to the general downturn in the economy starting in 2000, outsourcing, and other factors that have hit developer/designer employment over the past decade

    Believe me, those numbers have been crunched, and the percentage of women within the creative industries is, and always has been, piss poor.

    Bottom line, your arguments are incomplete and do nothing but stoke emotions rather than promote informed discourse.

    No – the evidence is incomplete, but the most ’emotional’ responses have actually come from you and a couple of others who seem to ask ‘what does it matter?’ ;-)

  48. Believe this is the end of the story? No, I made no such statement. My point is, the evaluation of the data is at best incomplete and the comments supporting the data are anecdotal. This does nothing to seriously advance the question of “What is affecting the number of women in web design/development.”

    Anecdotal evidence can affect social constructions of reality but wouldn’t it be better to seize the opportunity to stoke the conversation over real data rather than statistically insignificant personal experiences?

    As for the “Believe me” portion of Jonathan’s response. You’re kidding, right? If so, I should have started my initial post with “Believe me” so I would have had more credibility?

    As for the emotional response on my part, it was only, “Here is another discussion fueled (admittedly by the author!) on only a partial examination of the data.” This is just one more rush to judgement.

  49. Tom said:

    You mix anecdotal and statistical information. All this does is weaken your argument in my mind…

    Not so. I presented an excerpt from some statistical research Eric Meyer and I commissioned. Nothing anecdotal about that. Nor did I advance an argument. I summarized some initial research findings.

    Later, in the comments section, I responded anecdotally to an anecdotal observation left by a reader. That’s not me “mixing” anecdotes with statistical information. It’s me responding to a reader’s comment. Are readers expected to contribute statistics? Am I expected not to occasionally respond to comments?

    It feels like you’re taking a shot, because the discussion makes you uncomfortable. It’s an uncomfortable discussion. Worthwhile discussions often are.

  50. Yes I think this is the way society should be. We should throw things like experience, talent and education out the window and pick a designer based on gender or race. Who cares how good they are. It’s all about numbers right. Put a man and woman in a room together. Who ever does best on a design….gets the job.

  51. The topic of women in tech is a big one in my house for by husband and I, who work in tech fields. In discussing Zeldman’s piece, he told me something I hadn’t known. Thought it worth noting, as an example.

    His company, a software development firm, is preparing a plan to hire 1000 men and women overseas, and rather than bring them here, they want to find a building, in say India, and set them up there. Still with the company, but outside our country. They seek both genders. They want to meet quotas too, for women. I asked if going outside the country for women in tech was another sign that women aren’t trained here in the USA. He responded that this is less of an issue than the money part. Quite simply, it’s “cheaper” to hire outside our country, whether men or women, in tech fields. Even cheaper than the female’s 77 cents for every dollar men make here.

    It causes to me wonder if women in tech are not valued here and worse, those that are, are easily replaced.

  52. How much of your data takes women freelancers into consideration?

    I wonder how many female designers/developers opt to freelance and work from home rather than obtain an in-house position somewhere? For me? Freelance is the way to go .. gives me the opportunity to be home with my kids in a way that full time employment for someone else never did. Great article!

  53. Pingback: The Minus World
  54. Why this matters: the disproportionate presence or absence of one group in an industry is a sign that the industry is limiting itself. Reducing the barriers that enforce these limits helps *everyone*, not just the excluded groups.

    Well, if you want to go with that argument, then let’s also extend it to the other jobs that men overwhelming dominate: construction, pipe-fitters, masons, plumbers, etc. I find it funny that you never hear any complaints about women being excluded from these blue-collar kinds of jobs, considering the pay is actually quite decent. Let’s be honest: all this talk about women not being represented is just a joke. Everybody agrees with gender equality, but equal opportunities does not mean equal outcomes. Women have the same access to the jobs that men do, it’s just that women aren’t interested.

  55. In 1984 I received my first Apple II computer and coded endlessly with “the turtle.” A few years later I begged my parents for a computer (just a blank PC) and they thought I was crazy (a pretty little cute 14 year old girl wanting a what? This was 1987 after all). I began coding games in DOS Basic in between rounds of playing with Barbie and learning how to put on rouge.

    Then I got into BBS’ing – 300, 1200 oh my word 9600 baud! In 1995 I created my first web page using Netscape Navigator and began writing a daily online journal in 1996. My personal site became instantly popular (I assume because at this time, there wasn’t much personal stuff on nor was there many females).

    In 2001 I began my own freelance career and chronicled it on my site, GirlatPlay.com. I ended up creating more sites, branding things, having 2 SXSW Web award nominations, I work in New Media, I work in tech, I know a lot yet I’m almost never invited to speak (I usually am only asked to speak at writing and “creative” conferences which I pass). I think that although I’m 33 with this 20 year online history, I look pretty young, I’m pretty blonde, I wear pretty dresses and I laugh – it’s hard to get taken as “serious tech geek who has authority” amongst a whole bunch of men and a few pant wearing women.

    I’ve just taken on a job as a Director at an amazing new start up so I’ll be working even more in new media, the online world and design – and I’ll be working mostly alongside men. Men who get asked to speak at things I don’t.

    I think people often have a perception of what “geek” is, what “authority” is and what “serious” is and if one doesn’t fit it, they’re out. I know all the “cool kids” who speak at these conferences, I am connected yet I don’t have their “look” nor do I blog 24/7 about it. I think that has a lot to do why I – along with other women like myself – do not get invited to participate at conferences. We can talk about “being creative” our “Feelings” and “wearing pink boas” but we don’t really get to talk about the meat of things very often. And that’s frustrating.

    It’s why I put together a (very well-received) panel at the 2007 SXSWI called “Boss Lady” – showing women can be smart, creative, funny, personable, driven, and geeky.

  56. Thanks Jeffery for starting this long-overdue discussion! I’m a female web designer, and yes was always paid less than my male counterparts when I worked at other design firms. Now I work for myself with two (male) partners. The struggle I often encounter now is to be taken seriously when meeting with male CEOs and IT managers… I have a male-sounding name, and often a new client’s assumption is that they will be meeting with a man. It’s amusing when I show up and jaws drop because they’re not prepared to talk “tech” with a woman. Yep this has happened more than once…

  57. thanks to all for such a rich discussion.

    in preparation for a meeting of K-12 teachers and tech directors my school and i are hosting on this subject, we created a wiki page that links to relevant articles, organizations, suggestions, and opportunities:


    we also conducted a survey of our girls and made changes to our computer courses based on their responses — hopefully that will help. it seems the divergence begins at an early age.

    it sounds like i’m tooting my own horn (or beating my chest?) but really i just want readers here to know that quite a few schools want to do more than just talk about it.

  58. I’m happy to see somebody is at least doing something about this instead of, as you said, just talking about it. I’m a female web professional. I’m Black and Native American. I attended An Event Apart Boston, and yes I felt out of place. I still loved the conference though, nothing to take away from that. I just often wonder what are the numbers on my experience. Data is a good place to start. Thanks Jeffrey!

  59. Thanks Jeffrey, for this very important topic. As a female designer/developer and owner of a web development company, my experience is very much like the women who have written here.

    Our web projects seem to progress much more smoothly if the client is female. I was always curious as to why this is, and from quite a bit of feedback from clients, have discovered that it is the “female” thing, and I don’t have to continuously “prove myself” to women. I interview my clients extensively at the end of a project to determine where I can improve. Over 80% of my male clients state that they were surprised with my level of knowledge and professionalism. When I asked them why they were surprised, amazingly, most will admit that they were surprised that my company was owned by a female, and a female programmer at that. After they get to know me, and I have “proven myself”, they will normally admit that they aren’t surprised when designers are female, but feel a little uncomfortable with a female programmer and especially, a female business owner.

    I have even had male clients who know that I own the company, and am the contact person for the project, yet will call one of my male employees, who will then have to tell them that they need to speak to me. My male employees state that clients, (especially larger businesses) will often make sexist comments and question how they came to work for a female, and do I really know what I’m doing.

    Now, in fairness to the men….this seems to happen much more with older executives in larger companies, who seem to participate more in the “boys club” mentality. Younger men do not seem to share this attitude, so kudos to the younger guys!

    I am one of the lucky ones – I have the ability to pick and choose projects. I once bid on a project and sat in a meeting across from several male executives who flat out told me that they did not know how comfortable they felt having a female in charge of their project. At first, I was flabbergasted. Then, I calmly thanked them for their time and walked out, much to their dismay. The next week, after meeting with some of my male competitors, this company then called me back and asked me to take the job. I declined. I then developed a huge project for one of their competitors, which included a search engine optimization/marketing campaign. Would you like to guess which company is at the top of Google?

    In all fairness, I do not believe that this attitude amongst some men is representative of the IT field alone. Prior to opening my business, I worked in upper management in male dominated fields. I was always the only female, and I had to continuously battle to be taken seriously. The problem is not with the IT field, it is with society in general. Thankfully, this new generation is changing that.

  60. I’ve been with the same company for the past 16 years and have moved to different and better positions along the way. My current position is as a Web Developer, and I have noticed that nothing changes in regards to how I am treated by male counterparts. If I supply an answer to something, it is kind of blown off, but the same answer can be given by a male co-worker and it is the right answer. I just shake my head and walk away. I do not get it. I work in a small town, where there are not opportunities within other companies. I receive a good wage and compensation package for what I do, so I stick around. But this has driven me to NOT want to speak up anymore, because I figure, what’s the point in doing so, if I’m going to be ignored. I just do my job and drop sniplets of ideas in my co-workers ears and let them be glorified. I neither desire or want the glory, just to be heard when I speak.

  61. This answer may be coming a bit late, but as to the number of women entering design education… I graduated from Carnegie Mellon about 2 years ago and since then have been teaching part time there in Communication Design. There were only 5 guys in my class of 27, and the years after that have even fewer guys in them. So at least at Carnegie Mellon – a very technically oriented school – it’s overwhelmingly female.

    Now, however, I work with only men, but I have at least one female friend who works with all women! Together we almost even things out….

  62. Just to put my two cents in regarding many of the comments.

    1 – Is pointing out differences between genders now a sexist thing? There are stereotypes because of common truths that are based on fact. It’s not 100%, but tends to hold true. Would I consider it a sexist comment if someone said that women tend to be more nurturing than men? Of course not! In general, it’s true. Lets also accept the fact that common perceptions, even if wrong, are still common perceptions and need to be accepted as such…not as sexism.

    2 – Regardless of our politically correct assumptions and propaganda on equality, it isn’t there. Yes, we may have the same opportunities, the same wages, but as many here have pointed out, the attitude is still very different between men and women. This is especially true in the typical corporate environment of older organizations. Then, when you add in the dramatic increase of other cultures into ours (an example is India based contract houses) we note a huge difference in the way women are accepted and tolerated…they aren’t.

    3 – What is the point of asking the question or viewing a study as this article is about? Well, how about curiosity? A sense of wonder, fulfillment, etc. Also perhaps a gentle nudge to those who still hold to old attitudes that are to the detriment of their companies and indeed, their lives.

    Yes, I am a woman designer. I have worked in Fortune 5 corporations as well as in small organizations. Now, I work for myself. I agree that in large part, gender, as with all other distinctions shouldn’t matter. But the plain, sad, simple matter of fact is: they do.

  63. Someone asked why does a designer gender matter so much. I’d like to share some peices of information that might answer that question!
    Women spend something like 80% of the total of online purchases. Therefore most ecommerce sites will have a high % of women as their target market.
    According to a study by the University of Glamorgan (http://www.glam.ac.uk/news/releases/003056.php), women prefered websites that were designed by women. So from a business-owner’s point of view, it makes sense to have a website that will appeal to the majority of the target audience and if that is women (and it most likely will be) then businesses should be looking for women designers to maximise profits!

  64. I am a female web designer and programmer and unfortunately I had to prove myself as a student in this field. Perhaps thats why women are not encouraged to pursue this as a career.

  65. When I decided to change careers and study design, I was asked a very intriguing question by my professor “Do you have any idea how you going to earn a living?” I was very puzzled??? But now I get it.

    Looking for work is challenging beyond belief because I am a female designer and a foreigner. What are the odds!

  66. What is the difference in women and men? can anybody answer this question. Nowadays women are also equal to men, they are earning more than men, they are working hard more than men, they not only looks after their professional life they also genius about take care of their personal life. Can any men do this? no they cant, then why are they blaming us. Some the womens are very weak when it come to their inner soul, they are not strong enough to face anything. Coming to the point of web designers /hosting services/development it is left to us and depends on how much we work hard to prove ourself in our professional life. its because women are new to this path of business.By seeing this i want the changes in every women who are feeling depressed about their professional life.

  67. Gender matters in this industry. I have had two experiences lately that really prove this.

    First my boss over the past 4 years had determined that I wouldn’t understand things. Told me I wasn’t paid to think. A year ago I was promised partnership. I didn’t get it. Not because I am not talented but because in my efforts to advance the company in development technique I went against his grain. I wanted to use a CMS for our larger sites…he chose not to and my big project last year ended up a 3000 page site where many pages were static rather than dynamic. I fought for standards and cross browser compliance. He and I were on different levels I wanted to move forward and he seemed stuck. So he ended up with a man from his church as Vice President. The man from his church doesn’t design, doesn’t develop, did not have a clue about the industry until he started doing sales. With the surprise of his vice presidency and me having been told I am not paid to think I took another job at another agency.

    Well the other agency was a group of young men. This didn’t work either as they didn’t care about standards compliance. This was a bothersome to me. I was the only woman and older than the guys. As I left I was told that I was an experiment to see if a woman would fit.

    So I have come back to my own company. Where I plan to provide standards compliant sites with beautiful and quality designs. In my mountain area I have the ability to provide a service and already have 5 sites in the works.

    I believe women provide a touch to websites that men do not have. We are beneficial to a team and to the industry.

    Thank you for this article.

  68. Kate! I saw that you went to Parsons, and I just wanted to say that I want to go there so badly (I’m in 8th grade). :)

    Personally, I was surprised when I saw that number. I know about five people in my grade that are interested in becoming a graphic designer, all of them are women (The computers teacher attempted teaching us photoshop, which didn’t work out very well and I ended up having to help everyone because the teacher had no clue what she was saying, but anyway, that’s how I know). As I watch everyone, I see that our generation is much different when it comes to computers than what these statistics show. I notice that a lot of women are more prone to going on the internet than guys are. I don’t know if this means anything, but I always hear guys talking about sports and such and I hear women talking about computers. Also, during computers class there was a very visable difference between most of the web sites that the guys did than the girls. Most of the guys looked like they didn’t really care what looked good or challenged themselves to make there project stand out. I saw that most of the girls were very preticual with how it looked. I bet the guys could have made theirs look just the same as all of the other ones, but they didn’t really care. I don’t know if this means anything, but I just figured that I’d tell you guys.

  69. I met one girl who played soccer when she was young and she had been laughing when I had been amazed she’s dealing in web design and internet promotion . However, the exceptions are the core of the world. :-) Samus-Poland

  70. I’ve noticed that the accessibility field has quite a few female players (check the presenter list for Access U: http://www.knowbility.org/conference/?content=instructors). I don’t know if that is related moreso to the more “human-centred” aspect of the field?

    I work at an independent interactive women-run agency. Our CEO, CXO and COO are all women. Almost all our Information Architects are female, all the Business Analysts are female. All the Application Architects are male. The Senior Developers and the Associate Directors are almost all male (I am one of two senior developers, and I’m transitioning to a BA role).

    We are definitely a female-centric company (we’ve even published white papers on the Gender Agenda and What Women Want. However, we just don’t have the women working as developers within the technology field. They tend to take on more of a planning/strategic role.

    I don’t know if the changes in the Web will make a difference. As it becomes more social and interactive (often considered motivations that are more important to women), there may be a turn to women getting more involved. Not from a programming standpoint outright, but perhaps envisioning new services or offerings. However, APIs make things easier, and by lowering the bar of entry we may have more “dabblers” in technology than dedicated programmers.

  71. As to gaining confidence with technology, I agree with those of you who said the girls must have the opportunity for it, but so do the grown up women!

    I remember myself when I was 23 years old. I literally didn’t know how to turn a PC on. I got fed up with this state of things and just applied for a two-years long technical course, well knowing only boys applied with me and sure they knew much more then me. They did, but only at the beginning. After a while it was clear to me, the male “technical superiority” is all about talking and boasting. And yes, they were all not shaved and looked like didn’t like water much.

    My male colleagues now at my workplace sometimes behave the same, but they know they have to step down, and I’m not the only women there anymore :) (work in tech support).

    2005 at the European Social Forum I participated in a great workshop of a feminist group Genderchangers (have a look at http://www.genderchangers.org). They do teach women how to take a PC apart, they do allow you to mess up with the components and to get your hands dirty, which is the way to go. Gaining confidence, even if you are a grown up women, if your parents didn’t allow you to when you were small, like they did allow your brothers.

    Thanks for this great text,


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