WHERE ARE THE WOMEN?
THOUGHTS ON BALANCE
Recently, I’ve been asked by students to answer questions about my career choices, path and packaging design as a subject.
I love to oblige, it actually means that I stop to think! Plus I LOVE to give back as I know how precious that time as a student is.
This is the second set of questions; from Kirsten Seerey.
Only 11% of Creative Directors in our industry are women. When it comes to various design courses (in particular degree courses) they are dominated by women, on average 70% are female. Then 40% of professional designers are women.
Why do you think this is?
My experience of getting a job and into the industry post degree was tough. I didn’t have an easy ride. I went to London, hustled *read: begged, for internships and placements, booked them in back to back over 18 months and still didn’t end up with a job at the end of it. I got the mega bus 4 times in a week for interviews Sheffield to London (the horror, wouldn’t do that now!) all in an effort to secure the potential opportunities.
I’m not sure whether this is a male vs. female thing, but I would hazard a guess at the idea that women aren’t as forward when ‘in the room’ with the important people.
I never asked outright for a job at any of these placements.
There’s research to suggest that women simply “don’t ask.”
We wait to be given. (Of course this is a generalisation, but a theory none the less! I’m no expert in this, but I expect this stems from our social inequalities historically.)
Inequalities and deep rooted belief systems that we don’t stack up as well as men do, and therefore don’t believe we have the right to ask for what we want, nor do we give ourselves permission to ask.
I guess its never been very ladylike to step out of the shadows like that?
Speaking more generally about the industry as whole, it’s a career that requires confidence and a strong voice to avoid getting lost in the crowd. There will always be someone shouting more loudly, wading in with ‘better’ ideas (a man usually, don’t print this bit if you don’t want!) and perhaps for some women its just not worth the battle? As a whole perhaps we’re more comfortable without the fight!? (rightly or wrongly, and again a result of the gender inequalities from a social-satus point of view we’ve faced since a long long time ago.)
I’m seeing that there’s definitely a rise in independent female designers running their own businesses; could this be an opportunity for us to get out of the competitive male-driven agencies and forge our own future agency mindsets?
What is my opinion of this ?
It’s shit, but I think there will be a paradigm shift with the new age of online entrepreneurialism; where women are rising up and starting their own agencies for the future. Plus there will be a new generation of women in evolution; where we dilute those outdated belief systems.
The design / advertising industry is relatively new, and we’ve come a long way from Mad Men times but I think there’s more work to be done.
Have I had any experience of this myself?
In the sense that every agency I’ve worked in or stepped foot in has be owned by a man, yes?!
I’ve met a handful of top-level female designers, but rarely ECDs or business owner CDs.
I follow LOADS of female designers on instagram. My frequent go tos:
@mentabranding (an agency of women!)
@smackbangdesigns (another agency driven by women!)