Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.

Joel Bailey recently wrote  Service Design: A feminist manifesto

"Got me thinking about the worst kept secret in service design, that 90% of clients are women. I’ve been pondering this and reckon it’s down to the method – an approach to change that is about collaboration and listening. Not wishing to stereotype, but those are not characteristics of the male board room. Certainly my years in management consultancy were about command and control, with top down change imposed and directed. The greatest appeal of service design as an approach is that it looks to peoples inherent resourcefulness for the answers. It says to people – you have it in you to transform the service you deliver. For me there’s something quite maternalistic in there"

Engine's Tamsin Smith posted an interesting reply:

"...the attraction of females to service design is something we’ve discussed as an emerging trend. It is certainly not reflected in current practice in which females service designers are definitely the minority.

The softer skills of a service designer such as empathy and capacity-building, for example, are more inherent female traits. The ‘People’ part of service design i.e. designing for people, with people, to make better people roles- again appeals to the feminine side in us"


I find this debate fascinating.  I had an insightful conversation with Sophia Parker about her research for Social Animals – and in her talking to many students focused / interested in Service Design – the majority of them were female. Certainly, from a product design background I think the Service Design practice appeals to designers who are happiest talking to people and researching -  compared to being in the work shop making.

The students / researchers I know who are focusing on  Service Design are female, yet the practitioners I know are male...

I'm curious…what do you think? and are you a Mr or a Mrs?

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