Having decided to really focus on helping build women’s confidence, I keep wandering back to the topic of women and innovation. Mind you, the two are related. One of the factors inhibiting women’s ability to innovate is lack of confidence and its cousin, fear of failure.
In a previous post, I had written about Female Interaction, a project funded in part by the Danish government and run by Design-People in Denmark. They’ve been looking at the impact of women’s involvement in designing technology products to be more appealing to women. Some of the companies they worked with were Bang & Olufsen, Nokia, & Jabra. Not surprisingly, involving women in the design process results in products that are more readily accepted by women. Turns out, men liked them too.
In that same post, I talked about Volvo’s 2004 “Your Concept Car”. A team of women designers created a car that met the needs of women drivers. It included things like doors that could be opened in a hands-free manner (’cause who has a free hand when you’re holding a baby and/or groceries?), capless gas tanks (one less thing to lose), and self-parking. Despite getting some great publicity and favorable reviews on the features, none of them were implemented. [Wouldn’t it have been nice to have some of those features a little sooner? They’ve been added to cars in the last few years]. The women on the project all left- disappointed that their ideas were not implemented.
So, curious about the impact of having women included in design groups working on projects NOT directly destined for women, I googled: women design. The article that popped out for me was: Women at the Drawing Board. And- surprise- some of the most famous designers worked with women designers who rarely got credit for their efforts. Some examples:
- Ray (really Bernice Alexandra) Eames- designer & architect, wife of Charles Eames
- Charlotte Perriand, who worked for Le Corbusier
- Lilly Reich, principal designer for Mies Van Der Rohe
Reminded me of Rosalind Franklin. In case you’ve never heard of her- she did much of the research that led to the discovery of DNA. The Nobel Prize went to 3 men.
Makes me realize I need to do more exploration. I wonder just how many other women designers, architects, & scientists have been overshadowed by men they worked with…. Time for more research.