Linda Sum was born and raised in Hong Kong, attended high school in the UK, and moved to California for college, and worked in New York City for a few years. Now Linda is back in Southern California and enjoying the sunny weather!
A few things that inspired her to learn and work in the design/tech space –
- Sim City 2000: She was in awe of its UI and icon design when she first played the game at the age of 10
- Kandinsky’s paintings (composition, VII, 1913): She was deeply moved and inspired by his paintings and his struggle as an artist at the age of 12
- First time visiting Tokyo at the age of 13: She marveled at the Tokyo subway map and discovered her interest in map and information design
- A chair design exhibition in Hong Kong: She visited this exhibition when she was 15 and discovered design and Eames!
- A 2D design class she took at a community college: Linda discovered graphic design as a career path when she was 18
How are you planning to celebrate Women’s Day this year?
There’ll be company events that I will be attending, including a webinar and celebration. I also plan on reading Unleashed which is a book written by these two amazing female leaders on the topic of team empowerment and leadership skills.
Would you say there is an under-representation of women in UI and UX design?
Yes and especially women of color and the absence of females at the leadership positions.
What are some personality traits of women that make them better (or worse) UX designers?
Empathetic, nurturing, tolerance of stress, altruistic.
Who are some design leaders (male or female) you look up to?
Julie Zhou, Dantley Davis and John Maeda.
As a woman, what’s the greatest challenge you’ve had to face as a designer?
1) Being expected to fit in certain gender roles at the workplace
2) Being assessed mostly on performance and achievements rather than potential during promotion cycle. Hence feeling the stress to always perform at the highest capacity to prove myself
3) Break into leadership role at tech companies
4) Imposter syndrome
What, in your opinion, could we designers do, as a relatively young and collaborative fraternity, to solve the problem of gender inequality?
We need to create space to share stories and experiences more often without the fear of judgment. Knowing that there’s a community where we are all going through similar challenges and discuss how we can support each other through the journey is very important. Gender inequality is a complex issue to tackle. It requires designers from a diverse racial, gender, socio-economic, and professional background to unpack the subject and turn into tangible items we can work with. We also need allies and advocates from different industries to support the initiatives.
Your message to young women looking to make their careers in UI and UX Design?
It’s important to be true to yourself. Don’t let a job or others’ criticism doubt the very things that make you unique and amazing. Love it and own it, because those are the diverse perspectives and voices we need to make positive change and impact in the design space.
This article was last updated on December 3, 2023; Originally published on March 8, 2021