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LECTURE: Betsy Barnhart, IDSA

Monday, November 16, 2020

6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

This lecture is being held via Zoom. CLICK HERE to register and gain access!

Inclusion in Industrial Design: The Impact of Gender and Racial Disparities in the Field


As a field, Industrial Design has not addressed the gender and racial disparities present throughout the industry or in academia. There is no accurate available data regarding racial and gender makeup within industrial design education or in the profession, which has stunted discourse regarding the scope of the problem and the importance of having diversity in the field. This has led to a predominance of white males within industrial design teams, specifically in hard good product design. Understanding the implications of a monoculture within design is paramount to making meaningful change within the field. In order to diversify industrial design education and professional practice, effective methods for change and broadening understanding is imperative.

About Betsy Barnhart, IDSA

Betsy Barnhart, IDSA, is an Assistant Professor and Program Director of Industrial Design at the University of Kansas. She is also a leader of IDSA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. Barnhart was the recipient of the Industrial Designers Society of America’s (IDSA) Young Educator of the Year in 2020.

Barnhart’s research focuses on addressing inequities in Industrial Design: specifically, the under representation of women in practice, design leadership, and in education. She is gathering core data to better assess the status of women and minorities in Industrial Design practice and conducting skills assessments internationally to show disparities in learning outcomes for women and minorities in Industrial Design education. She is also an accomplished sporting goods designer with over fifteen years of Industrial Design experience and continues her professional practice designing Lacrosse and Field Hockey equipment for Nike and STX lacrosse, having received several patents for her design work.

Barnhart’s educational practice is based on her extensive experience as an Industrial Design practitioner, bringing into the classroom real-world experiences, focusing on innovation and market disruption in consumer products and sporting goods through industry partnerships with companies including, Stanley Black and Decker, Orvis, Zebco, and United Sports Brands. She also serves as the faculty advisor to the IDSA Student Chapter.

Before joining the University of Kansas, Barnhart was an Assistant Professor at Iowa State University, taught at Towson University, and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Prior to teaching, she was Design Manager at STX, a licensee of Nike, worked as an Industrial Designer at Newell Rubbermaid and at Sardi Design. Barnhart earned her BFA in Ceramics Art and Design at the New York State College of Ceramics Art and Design at Alfred University in 2003, she completed her MFA in Industrial Design from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2006. She is an active member of the Industrial Designers’ Society of America.