#63 The Feminine Designer

I first met Kate in May 2016 when she applied to share my stage at UX London. You can watch a video of Kate talking about this experience below. We connected over a love of design and making our community more inclusive. Kate is a Senior UX Designer at Zoopla building things like this. Here’s what she’s got to say…


What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt over the last year?

I've worked in tech, an industry well known for its male dominance, for the better part of 5 years and continually feel myself betraying my feminine traits in favour of my masculine ones to get my point across in a meeting or achieve my career goals. In response to this realisation, I started working with a Feminine Wholeness coach. She's been teaching me to design my life by the 3 principles of Feminine Wholeness:

  • Take supremely good care of the basics (like drinking enough water and getting enough sleep)

  • Renew your heart and your mind

  • Own and hone your sexual and spiritual power.

There's a buzz phrase going around that says "self-care isn't selfish". I interpret this to mean that I must understand and meet my own needs first so that I can fully show up for others. Women are inherently caretakers but we've forgotten how to take care of ourselves. I've seen how myself and other women de-prioritise our own needs for the needs of others, how we abusively talk to and about ourselves, and how poorly we treat our bodies both physically and emotionally. These 3 principles are helping me get back in touch with my feminine power. Instead of New Year's resolutions this year, I've made commitments that pertain to each of these principles like getting to sleep by 10:30 so that I can be fully engaged at work the next day, making time to journal and process feelings in a healthy way, and incorporating meditation practices that help me reclaim my sexuality as a woman.

What’s your burning question of the moment?

I have so many right now about femininity and feminine power. Going back to the reason why I started working with a coach in the first place, I don't want to default to masculine tactics in order to achieve my goals at work and in life. I want to find a new, feminine-driven way, so lately I've been asking myself how to do that, who out there has already done it, and how can I help other women (and men) do it too?

Right now I'm reading The book of She by Sara Avant Stover. It expands on the work of Maureen Murdock who wrote The Heroine's Journey, an adaptation and response to Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. Murdock noticed a commonality between the women and men she worked with: they all disconnected from their femininity in order to "get to the top". I'm hoping this book helps me find some answers so I can set an example for women and men on how to balance the divine feminine and divine masculine that live within all of us. Even if I don't get it right, I want to forge a path for others to try it for themselves, just like so many women have forged paths for me.


What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen/ heard/ read in the last year?

At the end of 2018, I started to revisit the Heroine podcast produced my Majo Molfino. She interviews women in creative leadership positions and it is blowing my mind for the second time around. I'm recommending it to absolutely everyone at the moment. I got particularly fired up listening to the interview with Vivienne Ming.

In creative problem solving, hierarchical leadership fails which is one of the reasons why the optimal gender distribution in creative problem-solving is 60% female. If you have more women than that, you lose creative diversity, if you have more men, even 50/50, it turns from team problem solving very quickly into hierarchical problem-solving
— Dr Ming

In the course of just a few months, I went from being one of 6 women on my team to one of 2. In that same amount of time, only men were hired to the team. I was the last woman to be hired and that was nearly a year ago now. I am now deeply committed to increasing the number of women creatives I work with and want to make sure companies everywhere understand the importance of gender diversity, along with racial, economic and professional diversity in creative problem-solving.

What would be your one piece of advice to students out there?

To the women who are about to begin their careers, I encourage you to apply for jobs you don't think you're fully qualified for. Many will have heard the story that men apply for jobs they feel they are 60% qualified for whereas women only apply for jobs they feel they are 100% qualified for. I say story because I can't find a detailed study on these stats, but regardless of this being conjecture or fact, I see it every day. I don't see women applying for senior level design positions. Early in your career, push yourself to just go for it even if you think a company is too good for you, or you think you don't have all the skills and experience a job description asks for. I bet you'll surprise yourself. I know I've surprised myself. Employers don't expect you to be perfect and we want to be able to grow in our roles as we progress through our careers. If you'd already done everything a job advert lists, wouldn't you be looking for more of a challenge anyway?

On a similar note and for everyone, don't worry about jumping around in your career whether that be to different companies, job titles or professions. I went from photographer to photoshop artist to brand designer to UX designer and don’t believe I’m anywhere near done. At every interchange, I worried I wouldn’t be taken seriously or I'd be seen as having too little experience to make the leap, but every manager who has hired me has done so for my career diversity.

You can read the rest of the profiles here. If you’d like to nominate someone or yourself to be part of this interview series please tweet me @redjotter. I encourage people who identify as women and people of colour to nominate themselves and I’d love to feature people who aren’t based in London.

#62 The Progression Designer

#61 The Mindful Designer

#60 The Common Good Designer

#59 The Shoutout Network Designer

#58 The Design Club Designer

#57 The Digital Delivery Manager Mum

#56 The Designer of Public Services in the Digital Age

#55 The Little Village Designer

#54 The Podcasting Designer

#53 The Collaboration Designer

#52 The Producer Designer

#51 The Virtual Reality Designer

#50 The Cultural Designer

#49 The in-between Design Researcher

#48 The Chaos Wrangler

#47 The Honest Designer

#46 The Ethical Fashion Designer

#45 The Designer of Power

#44 The Designer of Communities

#43 The Transition Designer

#42 The Drawing Designer

#41 The Ethical Futurist

#40 The Actor-Coder

#39 The Motherhood Designer

#38 The Zoo School Designer

#37 The Thinking Clearly Designer

#36 The Accidental Designer

#35 The Workwear Designer

#34 The Designer of Vulnerability

#33 The Graphic Designer

#32 The Design Graduate

#31 The Service Design TV Host

#30 The Change Maker

#29 The Learning Designers 

#28 The Human Interaction Designer

#27 The Full Stack Strategist

#26 The Design Writer and Doer

#25 The Behavioural Designer

#24 The UX Leader

#23 The Behavioural Researcher

#22 The Service Designer

#21 The Local Government Designer

#20 The Start Up Designer

#19 The Human Centered Designer

#18 The Strategy Designer

#17 The Interaction Designer

#16 The UX Designer

#15 The Data Designer 

#14 The Experience Designer

#13 The Design Teacher

#12 The Creative Technologist

#11 The Creative Generalist

#10 The Hyper Island Designer

#9 The Conscious Designer

#8 The Business Designer

#7 The Networked Designer

#6 The Speculative Designer

#5 The Digital Maker

#4 The Craftsman

#3 The Storyteller

#2 The Dreaming Maker

#1 The Go Getter