What's your advice?
Designing for difference is the engine of innovation
There is always one question I hope I never get asked about my career. I really don’t want to be asked it when speaking to school students, when I am ‘inspiring’ them about engineering careers.
“What is it like working in a male dominated field?”.
My brain flicks between all the possible answers. This ranges from “awesome” because it’s easy for people to remember your name to “one of the most challenging things about my career” because it can feel so lonely. I want to be real and open about my experiences. I wonder - can I be authentic about my challenges, while also inspiring people into engineering?
This week, I was asked my most feared question by a cheerful Year 11 student. That day I chose to give some different advice.
The World is Designed by Men
Embracing difference is the biggest opportunity we have to design a diverse and inclusive world.
We know poor design outcomes can be a result of a lack of diversity in design. It is literally dangerous for us. Well, it’s dangerous for women or the people who were not considered in the design. It is what happens when biases influence decisions in the design making process.
Designing for difference is an opportunity. It sparks innovation and, like diversity, benefits everyone.
So how can we design for difference?
90% of the world is designed by men.
This is my usual opening line for speeches on diversity in engineering. It's followed by a long pause.
The way we design our world is having a real impact on people's lives. Women are 47% more likely to die in car crashes because of overlooked design biases. Want to know what we can do about it?