Girls & GridsPosted by zoe in blog March 27, 2012
With a truly inspirational all female panel, the first in the ‘making waves’ series of the Designer Breakfasts kicked off last week, raising the question, “Where are all the Women?”.
It was great to hear from the panel. Where they are from, how they got into graphic design, where the drawbacks were, and where they were encouraged. I thought it was even better to hear the general consensus that as women, they had not been discriminated against in the workplace. Their gender has never caused them any issues. This suggests that the lack of women in in the design industry has very little to do with discrimination and sexism. They are not being pushed out by men. So why is it that only 3% of creative directors are female?
It’s not that they don’t exist. Sara De Bondnt’s Data Visualisations of Gender Divisions in Contemporary Graphic Design shows that 56% of graphic design graduates in 2011 were female. But when we go on to look at the statistics for the number of females in practicing studios, that number drops to 23%.
Is it that some women lack confidence competing in a male dominated industry? Are they too modest, introvert and self-conscious? Do they feel uncomfortable selling themselves like the alpha male would, despite having an equal skills set? Do they think that they have to prove more than men to be accepted?
Graphic design, like many others, is an increasingly difficult industry to get into. From personal experience I can say that the competitiveness is overwhelming, especially for recent graduates. It takes the strongest, most ambitious people to keep trying until they succeed. The above data suggests that somewhere in between graduating and working professionally, the number of women have decreased by half.
So how should we deal with this problem? How do we encourage the female designers to emerge? Should we directly seek out female designers? Should we go so as far to hire female designers over male designers? Where do we draw the line?
I think we have to be very careful to not over compensate for the lack of women in this industry. I honestly think that no female designer wants to be hired because she is a woman. She wants to be considered as a designer, and she wants her skills to be compared to that of the other applicants, regardless of their sex. She strives for equal opportunity.
There are several reasons why this industry currently has a gender imbalance; pregnancy, confidence and competition being a few. It’s not quite a “boys club,” but do we need to take action to stop it from being so? I know that there are some incredible female designers out there and I think we need to encourage them to emerge. Whether that’s by hosting a conference or showcasing upcoming female talent or just providing advice and encouragement. We really do want to see more Irma Booms and Paula Schers.
So girls, if you’re looking for inspiration and support, Birdwatching is a great place to start.
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April 03, 2012
I think we’re in a strong position on talent recruitment regardless of gender at Futerra (he says, sitting on his female dominated Board!) ; )
April 03, 2012
Great blog Zoe!
It would be interesting to know if whilst not having the Graphic Designer job title, if all these missing women are still doing creative jobs (like myself)!