Gender and race on Dezeen

Gender and race on Dezeen

Dezeen Wire: Dezeen reader Salomé Francpourmoi has emailed us her analysis of the gender and race of designers whose portraits we've published on our homepage in the last seven months which, she says, shows a predominance of white males.

Gender and race on Dezeen

Her research covers the 50 most recent full head shots published on Dezeen (pictured above), of which 75% are white males, 8% Asian males, 2%middle-eastern males and 15% white females. Note: the collage of portraits from Dezeen shown above was created by Francpourmoi.

Here at Dezeen, we're keen to hear your opinions and feedback on this issue - please use the comments section below to let us know what you think.

Francpourmoi's email to us is copied below:

Dear Dezeen editorial team,

I would like to share with you the following thoughts, provoked by the daily browsing through your magazine - which I appreciate a lot, for it is most of the time an enjoyable read.

I am currently making several small studies about it, for despite its quality it puzzles me in some respects.

Attached is study #1, which follows a simple rule: gather the last 50 designer portraits in full head shot featured on Dezeen. [the images are shown in counter-chronological order from October 20th, 2011, to March 23rd, 2011.]

I observe, with some discomfort, that over the past half-year (taken as the random timeframe of my study), the breakdown in designer portraits is the following:

84% men
12% women
4% couples

90% white
8% asian
2% middle-eastern

75% white men
8% asian men
2% middle-eastern men
15% white women (including one who is not a designer, but a dancer who happened to be performing at an event)

Naturally, using the concepts of race and gender in such dry-cut terms is a slippery slope - and I don't enjoy putting a subjective label on these people's heads. I dislike being labelled myself, especially in terms of race and gender. However, another part of me is simply thinking: 'Man. Everytime I open this page I am greeted by a white dude.'

I have nothing against white dudes, of course. But I have a problem with the skewed perspective created by a magazine which proclaims itself 'the world's most influential online architecture and design magazine' - and indeed is read by millions. Granted, there might not be as many women in architecture and design as there are men. However, from the few statistics I was able to find, there has to be more than 15%, especially in anglo-saxon countries (which your publication also seems to have a bias towards, but that is another study).

As for architects and designers 'of color', I am pretty sure they exist in the real world. Such distortions start suggesting in a subliminal way that the best design from around the world is produced mostly under the authority of white males.

This furthers a problematic world view, which promotes as model a very specific group of people by giving it overwhelming visibility for no obvious reasons, while suffocating the possibilities for new types of voices to be heard. In any field, it is hard enough to rise when you belong to 'the margins' (as defined by people who put themselves in the center), without having to endure the shushing of role models who could make a difference by showing their existence.

As a widely-read publication, you have a responsibility towards the representation of society you send back to the world.

One way to be fair would be toning down your definition of yourself, and acknowledge that you bring 'a carefully edited selection of the best architecture, design and interiors projects from western, preferably white male designers'.

The other way - and I hope you will consider this option feasible -, would be to get more actively interested in representing the world's diversity, even if it means going out of your way to do it.


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