Design Journeys: Strategies for Increasing Diversity in Design Disciplines

Diversity is a life-long commitment. It is far more than just implementing affirmative action policies and hiring a few women, ethnic and culturally diverse individuals. A commitment to diversity in the design industry will require a significant change from all parties involved to increase the low number of African-American and Latino designers, business owners and educators. My area of focus examines the lack of diversity in the design disciplines and how to expose African-American and Latino youth to design. My research question investigates what are effective tools to expose African-American and Latino youth to design-related careers.

In Designing for Diversity: Implications for Architectural Education in the Twenty-First Century, 2002, Kathryn H. Anthony, Ph.D., ASCA, calls for a more “proactive stance toward diversity” at architectural design schools (Anthony, “Implications” 266). Critical issues such as globalization, generational trends and economic challenges for families have caused our society to face the importance of diversity. As the importance of diversity grows, so does the need for more diversity in all the areas of design.

Additional supporting factors that speak to the importance of greater diversity in design include:

  • Increasing the diversity in design is a business strategy that will generate more ideas and better solutions.
  • In this knowledge-based, tech-driven, global world, exclusion is no longer sustainable.
  • More diversity in the design industry will lead to increased creativity, productivity and innovation.
  • Design can create opportunities for underrepresented populations in academics, employment and entrepreneurship.
  • More African-American and Latino designers in the industry will provide role models for youth in underrepresented communities.