Sexing the Cubicle: The Materiality of Sexism in Office Design, 1945-2000


Sponsored by Design West Michigan and IIDA Michigan Chapter

This talk will explore the ways in which the culture of sexism in office work through the late 20th century was reflected and reproduced through American office design of that era. In addition to examining the symbolic meaning of status and hierarchy as it relates to gender in American offices, this talk will also consider the ways in which the marketing and design of office furniture in the late 20th century reinforced expected gender roles within American offices and office work.

About Jennifer Kaufmann-Buhler

Jennifer Kaufmann-Buhler is an Assistant Professor of Design History at Purdue University in the Department of Art and Design. Jennifer’s current research, on the history of the American open plan office, considers the tension between the progressive ideals of the architects, designers, and furniture manufacturers who first promoted the open plan and the material, political, social, and technological problems that workers and organizations encountered as the open plan became a mainstream American office design concept in the late 20th century. Jennifer earned her PhD in Design Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, her MA in the History of Design from the Royal College of Art and Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and her BA in American Culture from Vassar College.


Registration required; register here



Woodbridge N Ferris Building

Room 217

17 Pearl St NW

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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