Gendered learning experiences in collaborative design projects with vehicle industry

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This paper examines industrial design students’ experiences in two vehicle design projects that are carried out collaboratively with industry in the final year design studio course, to answer the following research questions: 1) To what extent and how does designing products for a traditionally masculine and male-dominated industrial sector result in gendered learning experiences? 2) How do these experiences shape students’ perception of automotive industry where they can choose to work as a designer? The empirical basis of the research comes from the interviews carried out with 20 women and 11 men students. The findings of the study confirm the discussion in the literature: The stronger the relationship of a design field with technology and industrial production, the more distant women see that field and they approach that field hesitantly in their career choices. However, the findings also demonstrate that by providing students with the opportunity of encountering such stereotypically male-dominated and masculine fields during undergraduate education, design educators create a safe environment in which students can “test” their interests, skills and knowledge in light of their real-life project experiences rather than the popular images of these industries. Although having carried out these projects did not seem to significantly affect the tendency of students to enter the automotive industry, it is equally important that women students, who felt incompetent and insecure at the beginning of the project, gained self-confidence and overcame their anxieties regarding vehicle design. This is an important achievement regardless of whether they would seek positions in automotive industry or not.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2nd International Conference of the Journal Scuola Democratica: Reinventing Education : Learning with New Technologies, Equality and Inclusion
Place of PublicationItaly
Publication dateNov 2021
ISBN (Electronic)978-88-944888-8-3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


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