Where are the women on TypeDrawers?

WH TypefacesWH Typefaces Posts: 12


  • joeclarkjoeclark Posts: 122
    Neither the typeface nor the type-discussion forum knows you’re a girl. The question is pointless.
  • Joe, I think the question is far from pointless, and deserves a more respectful response. And Wei's gender is irrelevant.

    TypeDrawers is mostly male, but so is the field of type and lettering design. I wish there were more balance in both the forum and the profession. There was a pretty vigorous discussion of gender and type design on Typographica a couple of years back. It did not, obviously, come to any useful conclusions.

    I've got a half-assed sort of theory that good type designers need to be otaku and that men seem to be more wired for obsessive single-mindedness than women. But I don't have any great confidence in this notion. And even if it were true, it certainly wouldn't explain the ridiculously off-kilter ratio in this field.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,732
    I recall many versions of this discussion over the years, including at the first ATypI conference I attended in 1994. I've also witnessed, from the sidelines, attempts by women in typography to organise albeit in fairly informal structures; I don't have a really good idea how well these have turned out for the people involved, but wouldn't presume that they were pointless.

    One thing I have noticed, on my regular visits to the MA programme at Reading, is that there's generally a pretty good balance of men and women, and if anything a slight imbalance in favour of women. And when I think about the graduates I know who are actively working in the type business, there is also a high proportion of women. That doesn't mean, of course, that they're equally well represented in online forums, which perhaps is where the 'ridiculously off-kilter ratio' really applies. Maybe they've got better things to do with their time?
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 407
    I've heard it said that in graphic design classes the ratio of male/female is in favour of women, with more and more women doing design courses.
  • Max, it's not true that men are wired for more "obsessive single-mindedness than women".

    Sye, In my experience and anecdotally from peers in other schools, women outnumber men in graphic design courses — however in the industry itself it's more men at the top (or visible).

    I'm curious as to why women don't engage in these kind of forums — it could be perhaps the internet is generally not as welcoming to women…
  • Addendum to my last post: Not implying that this place is unsafe and unwelcoming by the way!
  • kupferskupfers Posts: 259
    Before we speculate more – how about asking the women you are missing? For example email Verena and the others who commented under her post on typographica, and then share your findings with us.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,015
    edited March 2013
    Perhaps Typophile’s reputation is offputting, and some of that has rubbed off.
    There isn't a lot of moderation there, and things can occasionally become quite combative, which I would say is generally a more masculine trait. And those occasions are what is remembered.

    I enjoy a good argument and can be quite severe in my criticism, but only go ad hominem (and never, as far as I can recall, ad feminam) once in a blue moon, after several drinks.

    If women want an environment free of the online abuse documented in the articles Wei Hang links to, this is it. The Real Names stipulation makes a lot of sense in that context.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,933
    Sexism is an obvious and plausible answer.
    In the April 2013 issue of the Atlantic Garance Franke-Rute wrote about sexism generating passivity in women; I thought it relevant to this conversation.
    …It can take young women years to realize that the professional world is less of a meritocracy than the school world, and that the strategies that lead to success in one realm may not be enough to master the other. In the meantime, many suffer from what Carol Frohlinger and Deborah Kolb, the founders of Negotiating Women Inc., a firm that coaches women in leadership skills, call “tiara syndrome”—the belief that if they “keep doing their job well, someone will notice them and place a tiara on their head.” This tends not to happen.
    and later in the article
    The university system aside, I suspect there is another, deeply ingrained set of behaviors that also undermine women: the habits they pick up—or don’t pick up—in the dating world. Men learn early that to woo women, they must risk rejection and be persistent. Straight women, for their part, learn from their earliest years that they must wait to be courted. The professional world does not reward the second approach. No one is going to ask someone out professionally if she just makes herself attractive enough.
    I suspect that, given the huge number of young women in design, there are a great many unreleased typefaces designed by women that just aren’t being seen.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,933
    FYI, Wei will not be making further contributions to this thread.
  • Gender bender?
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,515
    It seems to me that the gender ratios of people posting on Typophile and TypeDrawers are not unlike those of TypeCon and ATypI conferences. Meanwhile, the high end of type design as a profession is even more male-dominated, while students coming in to type design are at least 50% female....
  • WH TypefacesWH Typefaces Posts: 12
    edited March 2013
    Yes, unfair dismissal. I know where I'm not welcome.
  • Just thought I'd point out there might be other women who, like me, do not feel particularly threatened or discriminated by the apparent male majority, but are simply of a quiet nature :).
  • Meanwhile, the high end of type design as a profession is even more male-dominated […]
    Last week the Dutch Type Library released DTL Valiance by the highly talented Finnish type designer Hanna Hakala. This will help to change the balance a bit, but above all it is a great typeface IMHO.
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