Abstract

The Fourth Industrial Revolution offers great opportunities and challenges to the UK design economy. The emphasis on communication and connectivity, together with new disciplines and new markets derived from technological, political and social change, makes it all the more crucial that the future design industry is infused with a wide range of skills, experience and perspectives. Lack of diversity is hindering that process, and this is especially true in product and industrial design – an industry which is 95% male with no measurable black contingent, according to current figures. Focusing on gender imbalance and opportunities for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) designers, this paper explores some of the issues surrounding diversity and inclusion in product design. Using data drawn from a survey of BA/BSc students from ? University’s Product Design programme, together with academic records from the past five years, the authors investigate some worrying and enlightening trends amongst young designers in higher education. Drawing on the views of previous research and current professional practitioners, the potential causes behind the diversity deficit are explored, along with the methods that some companies are using to try to help build a more inclusive cohort of UK product designers for the future design economy.

Keywords:

diversity, gender, ethnicity, product design, higher education

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Jul 9th, 12:00 AM

Exploring the ongoing diversity issues embedded in product design

The Fourth Industrial Revolution offers great opportunities and challenges to the UK design economy. The emphasis on communication and connectivity, together with new disciplines and new markets derived from technological, political and social change, makes it all the more crucial that the future design industry is infused with a wide range of skills, experience and perspectives. Lack of diversity is hindering that process, and this is especially true in product and industrial design – an industry which is 95% male with no measurable black contingent, according to current figures. Focusing on gender imbalance and opportunities for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) designers, this paper explores some of the issues surrounding diversity and inclusion in product design. Using data drawn from a survey of BA/BSc students from ? University’s Product Design programme, together with academic records from the past five years, the authors investigate some worrying and enlightening trends amongst young designers in higher education. Drawing on the views of previous research and current professional practitioners, the potential causes behind the diversity deficit are explored, along with the methods that some companies are using to try to help build a more inclusive cohort of UK product designers for the future design economy.

 

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