It is said that women want intimacy while Tiger Woods wants us to pay attention to his golf game and only his golf game. But in the big scheme of things geeky women may really, really want bright, beautiful and colorful offices with plush toys. When the geekly Sapna Cheryan went job hunting in Silicon Valley, she stopped in at Motorola and Adobe. The Motorola offices were stereotypically male with conference rooms named after Star Trek “things.” Asked what she would change about cell phones, she envisioned an idea for remote controlled methods of halting a ringing phone. Bunk, said the men noting that their phones were in their shirt pockets. Not bunk, said she, noting that her phone was in her purse, across the room.
At the Adobe office, Cheryan found more colorful offices and took a job there. Later on, Cheryan conducted psychological studies to see how women and men would react to differently decorated computer science classrooms. And her lab is in the virtual Second Life format with avatars. The stereotypical male, geeky room featured wall art of Star Trek “things?” It was also messier with magazines and computers on the floor. The other virtual computer classroom had potted plants, more fun art and neatly arranged magazines and computers. Such study showed women preferred the cleaner non-stereotypically male classroom while men just didn’t care where they took a class.
Cheryan concluded that the declining female numbers in computer classes could be reversed with better classroom design. Fans of design would agree that all of us are more likely to choose the better designed space. It’s just that geeky men may have a different concept of good design. Meanwhile the folks at Adobe have issued a call for entries in their 2010 Design Achievement Awards, especially in the increasingly popular interactive design category.
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