Posted by Laura Ercoli on Tuesday July 25th, 2023

Women in design: new study by the EUIPO

How many women work as designers in the European Union? How many of them are named in registered Community designs? And is there a gender pay gap in designer employment? A recent EUIPO report addresses these questions.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has recently published Women in Design, a report focusing on women designers and their participation in the European Union’s Registered Community Design (RCD) system.Women in design EUIPO

While the gender gap in Europe concerning patents has been the subject of several studies so far, this is the first time that detailed information on RCD filings is used to assess the participation of women in the creation of Community designs; the report also analyses data on the participation of women designers in the labour market in 23 European Union member states.

The RCD gender gap

Findings are that in 2021 only 24% of designers in the states considered were women, and only 26% of designs registered as Community designs by EU-based owners in the same year were attributed to at least one woman designer.

Over the 2011-2021 decade, the above gap has narrowed, but only very slowly; if there is no change, it will take 51 years to achieve gender parity in RCD registration – this finding is the most worrying, the report acknowledges.

Interestingly, the gap is broader in RCD filings by EU-based enterprises compared with RCD filings by non-EU-based enterprises: women designers appear, for instance, in over 50% of RCDs filed by Korean enterprises, while the average for women appearing in RCDs filed by EU-based enterprises is less than half that figure. (inserire grafico p. 37)

Where do women designers of the EU work?

The study points out a gender-based sectoral and occupational segregation, with a concentration of women designers employed in the public administration, arts, entertainment, human health and social work activities (almost 40%) or as planners, architects, designers and surveyors (over 50% in some EU member states). On the other hand there is a very low share of women designers working as electrotechnical engineers and software developers and analysts.

The gender pay gap

Data for the year 2018 show an average pay gap of almost -13% for women designers in 14 EU member states, regardless of women having, on average, higher education levels than men.

Further afield

The study concludes that further research is needed to fully understand the significant gender gap both in labour market participation and in pay, and that gender data needs to available for all fields in all EU member states. Reasons behind the fall in women in designers in employment since 2019 also deserve to be investigated in greater depth.

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