Laura Jonason started the Girls of ID student organization about three terms into her studies in the Transportation Design program at Art Center to connect all the women in the department. She wasn’t surprised to be part of a very small minority but she thought, after growing up a tomboy and working for 8 years in a myriad of jobs before coming to Art Center, she wouldn’t find it to be a problem. After a few terms being the only woman in her class, however, she began to feel a little isolated and wanted to reach out to other women in her major. “It is hard for men and women to be friends with each other in the same way they are with their own gender and it can be lonely being the only girl in a class full of guys.” Laura founded the student organization so that women in industrial design majors who are similarly grappling with that kind of isolation have somewhere to go. The Girls of ID offers these women a place to find camaraderie.
It’s not the first time Laura has looked for ways to connect women. Prior to Art Center, while working at Circuit City, Laura founded a similar group for women who wanted to pursue leadership positions. One of the things they would talk about is that as a woman you can’t act the same way a man does and get the same reaction. They used an analogy about how to react in boiling water – you don’t want to be a carrot that gets limp and soft and you don’t want to be an egg that hardens – you want to be coffee because it mixes with the boiling water and becomes something good.
On women in Transportation Design:
“We need female car designers. Everybody has a unique design perspective and adding gender into that mix can only help. Today’s woman really wants something La Femme Nikita – we want to be powerful and sexy.”
About the Girls of ID mentor, Product Design Department Chair Karen Hofmann:
“Karen is awesome. It is really great to have a teacher and mentor who is a woman. You can go to her with questions about what it is like as a woman to work in a male-dominated industry. Currently there are no female Trans teachers so it is really wonderful to be able to go to her.”
About being a mentor:
“People come to me and tell me about someone who could use the support of our group. Trans faculty will let me know if they see a female student who is struggling and some of the men will also let me know if there is a girl in their class who looks like she could use a friend.”
About automotive interior design:
“Before coming to Art Center I was interested in designing interiors – how long have cars been around and we still don’t have a place to put a purse? After starting at Art Center, however, I fell in love with form and now I’m focusing on exteriors.”
The Girls of ID meet three times each term. At the beginning of the term, they have a picnic or potluck that includes students and alumni from Art Center as well as Cal State Long Beach and Cal Poly. Sometime around midterms they get together in a classroom with snacks and drinks to work on projects and socialize. At the end of each term they go out to dinner.
For more information about the Girls of ID and any other student group, see the Center for the Student Experience.