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July 25, 2017
By Teri Bond
Photographed By Stella Kalinina

Female Leaders from Google, NASA, Fiat, Sony and More Share Survival Tools and Strategies at ArtCenter for Success in Tech and Design

At ArtCenter’s Women in Industrial Design Forum on Saturday, July 15, 2017, design leaders from companies including Nike, Airbnb, Sony, Mattel, MIT Media Lab, Google and Snap gathered at the College to share wisdom from the trenches in panels and conversations throughout the day.

For designers, who often create structure out of chaos, it is critical to establish a common language across disciplines and have a strong point of view. Leaders—many who work in male-dominated fields—reinforced those points:

“Being opinionated and having a point of view is even more important when working in a male dominated industry because you’ll get a lot of no’s and people talking over you. But you have to push past that and not be personally offended by those obstacles.”
— Angie Park (BS 2011), Hybrid UX Researcher, Sony

“Don’t be afraid to speak loudly. When people are talking over you, speak louder.”
— Jenn Kuca (BS 2012), Senior Strategic Designer, BCG Digital Ventures

At the end of the day, I’m judged by my effort.

Sara Ortloff Khoury

While there was a great deal of discussion about the work that still needs to be done in terms of gender equity in the workplace, there was also substantial discussion on the role of design:

“Why do you keep redesigning our product?”
— Sara Ortloff Khoury (MFA 1992), User Experience Design Director, Google, on a question she hears from clients unfamiliar with the iterative process of design

“It’s a life-long endeavor. A large part of what we do is educate coworkers and clients. Champion the idea of design thinking.”
— Angie Park (BS 2011), Hybrid UX Researcher, Sony

“Engineers think of you as an afterthought.”
— Kristina Marrero (BS 2014), Colors, Materials and Finish (CMF) Designer, Snap


When asked whether the design research process is enhanced by women being on a team, panelists agreed that women are better collaborators, more empathetic especially in awkward situations, and more generally detail oriented in their observations than men:

“You can’t design well if the team is not diversified. It can’t be only female driven either.”
— Angie Park (BS 2011), Hybrid UX Researcher, Sony

“At the end of the day, I’m judged by my effort.”
— Sara Ortloff Khoury (MFA 1992), User Experience Design Director, Google