Diversity analysis of interior design students at UK institutions
The British Institute of Interior Designers (hereafter BIID) is a charitable organisation which exists to encourage and support creativity and competence in the field of interior design through facilitating best practice, practical professional support, development opportunities and education.
BIID was concerned that interior designers as a group do not reflect the full diversity of British society. However, it has limited data on interior designers. A first step to understanding barriers was to understand what demographic groups choose to study interior design at university level.
BIID discussed their needs with the volunteer statistician, Isabella Image. They sourced data from the Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA), which provides a census of all university students in the UK. Isabella then produced a document describing the demographic of students on interior design courses with respect to four particular diversity markers available on the dataset: gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, and disability. Interior design students were compared with the average UK student, and also with students on related courses (architecture & planning; creative arts & design).
The analysis showed that students on interior design courses are not very diverse when it comes to gender: 83% of them were female! Ethnic minorities were better represented than on an average student course, but were less likely to get a first than white students. And interior design students were more likely to come from a less privileged background. Overall, the analysis suggested that students from a range of backgrounds choose to study interior design; if the profession is not diverse, this may be because certain groups need help overcoming barriers between university and career.
The impact and benefits
Charlotte Davies, marketing manager at BIID wrote:
‘Working with the RSS and the Statisticians for Society initiative has been a valuable experience for the BIID. We have found everyone involved in the process to be extremely professional and reliable. Isabella, our volunteer statistician, was amazing to work with and provided us with analysis that will help contribute to our understanding of diversity in interior design for many years to come.’