International Journal of Art & Design Education

Destined to Design? How and Why Australian Women Choose to Study Industrial Design

Volume 35.2   2016



Despite over three decades of legislation and initiatives designed to tackle the traditional gender divide in the science, technology and design fields, only a quarter of the registered architects in Australia are women. There are no statistics available for other design disciplines, with little known about why women choose design as a career path and who or what influences this decision. This qualitative research addresses this knowledge gap, through semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted with 19 Australian women who completed an industrial (product) design degree. Thematic analysis revealed three key themes: childhood aptitude and exposure; significant experiences and people; and design as a serendipitous choice. The findings emphasise the importance of early exposure to design as a potential career choice, highlighting the critical role played by parents, teachers, professionals and social networks.