This study highlights the potential impact of the gender orientation of the product design task on the performance of design teams with different gender compositions. Then, it summarizes the methodology and results of a preliminary study conducted at the Pennsylvania State University, during Fall 2002 using two sections of the Introduction to Engineering Design course. The pilot study used 16 engineering design teams that completed two design projects. The first design project is a guided project and the second one is an open-ended, industry-sponsored project. The data collection was done during the second design project, which takes about 8 weeks of the semester. Preliminary results indicate that design experience affects the performance of design teams. In addition, despite the fact that the gender orientation of the design task is not found to be significant, as it is quantified for this preliminary study, the increase of female students in design teams result in lower design performance. However, the data set included does not warrant a conclusion on the effect of the gender orientation of the design task on design team performance. Therefore, further experimentation is recommended.