Research Seminar: The gendering of industrial design in Turkey as technology-related work – Pınar Kaygan

The second research seminar of this semester, “The gendering of industrial design in Turkey as technology-related work: Exploring the narratives of professionals”, will be delivered by Pınar Kaygan on 5th December, 2012, between 12.30 – 13.30 in Kubbealtı at METU Faculty of Architecture.

This study investigates the role of gender in industrial designer’s work in the context of Turkey. Reviewing the literature, we can identify three concerns that feminist research has pointed to explain women’s disadvantaged position in technology-related work, particularly engineering and IT: male-dominance in technological occupations, the masculine culture of technology and technology-related work, and the masculine image of the ideal technological worker. The first two concerns, but especially the former, have also been highlighted by feminist design scholars. In these studies, which have focused on particularly the UK and the US, industrial design is described as the most male-dominated and masculine field of design due to its relationship with technology and industrial production. The situation of industrial design, however, presents a contradictory picture in Turkey, where neither a significant numerical gap between men and women industrial designers, nor a strongly gendered professional culture appears. Contrary to the existing literature, this example enables us to ask what happens in terms of the experience of gender in/equality, once a technology-related profession welcomes women as well as men. Adopting a feminist social constructionist approach, this study conceptualises gender as a process in which work is patterned through distinctions between masculine and feminine. Within this perspective, it draws on interviews conducted with 20 female and 12 male industrial designers from various industries in Turkey to explore to what extent and in what ways industrial designers’ work experiences are patterned by gender. Stories collected through these interviews are analysed using a thematic narrative approach.