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EU study finds underrepresentation of women designers

women in design industry

A recent study published by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has highlighted the significant gender gap and wage disparity in the design industry within the EU.

The study, published on World Intellectual Property Day, found that only 24 per cent of designers in the EU are women. The study also revealed that women designers earn on average 12.8 per cent less than their male counterparts.

The study also examined data from the Registered Community Design (RCD) filings and found that only 21 per cent of the designs registered by EU-based owners listed at least one woman designer.

There are notable differences among EU member states, with the proportion of women designers ranging from 17 per cent in the Netherlands to 33 per cent in Latvia.

Despite efforts to close the gender gap in design, the study found that progress has been slow, and at the current rate of improvement, parity would not be reached for another 51 years.

Meanwhile, some non-EU countries such as South Korea, China, and the US have a higher proportion of women designers with nearly half or around 40 per cent of their design applications involving women designers.

The study also highlighted the types of products most frequently designed by women, including pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, articles of adornment, and textile piece goods.

In contrast, women designers least frequently work on musical instruments, arms, pyrotechnic articles, articles for hunting, fishing, pest killing, building units, and construction elements.

Meanwhile, EUIPO Executive Director Christian Archambeau emphasised the importance of gender equality in all fields, including intellectual property.

“Gender equality is one of the fundamental goals of the EU. It is also an imperative in all walks of life, including in the field of intellectual property,” Archambeau said.

“Most of the gender-related studies carried out to date have focused on inventors and patents,” she added.

“With this new EUIPO study, focusing on women designers and their participation in the EUIPO’s Registered Community Design system, we hope to bring attention to the existing gender gap and to inspire more women to pursue careers in the field of design, promoting a more diverse and inclusive profession,” Archambeau concluded.

To promote gender balance in the IP world, the EUIPO is participating in the Girls Go Circular initiative, which is organized as part of the Ideas Powered@school programme. The initiative aims to encourage girls to engage in STEM fields and promote gender diversity in the workforce.

The findings of this study are concerning, and efforts need to be made to address the gender gap and wage disparity in the design industry within the EU, the report explained.

It went on to say that it is essential to create more opportunities for women designers and ensure that they receive equal pay and recognition for their work. By promoting gender diversity in the design industry, the study explained, industry stakeholders can help create a more inclusive and equitable society.

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