Great news from the design world this week. Jessica Walsh goes solo and sets up ‘&Walsh‘ and Leta Sobierajski & Wade Jeffree finally launch their own collaborative studio. I took a few days to post about this just because I wanted to say something which actually came from a personal outlook, rather than just reporting on the process.
“70% of design students are women, but only 5-11% of creative director positions are held by women. Only .1% of creative agencies are women-owned.”
The above quote is quite shocking, but also sadly unsurprising. As a man, and still relatively young, I remember a few years ago with the then main-stream rise of fourth-wave feminism. At the time I remember feeling defensive, and often very upset by the things I was hearing surrounding the topics of ‘male privilege’ and the ‘Patriarchy’. ‘Why am I being attacked?’, ‘It isn’t my fault’, ‘I didn’t ask to be…’ etc It was a very insecure response to a systemic issue but acknowledging your shortcomings also creates an internal response, and with that comes reflection and self-improvement.
I still don’t see the topics above as being black and white. From years of experience within the industry people will always be dicks, regardless of sex, and I don’t believe the type of genitals someone has should ever be used as an excuse or a way to validate being a dick to others. However, despite my previous shortcomings there is one area I have always been very vocal about and that is the lack of progression and opportunity for women to C suite/director level, or to become business owners/leaders.
When I first took over The Designers League’ Instagram channel at the start of the year its audience was 10.4k followers, of which only 33% were female. This was unacceptable to me. As a result, I made a conscious effort to promote work created by female creatives and TDL members. The channel now stands at nearly 50k members, a 430% growth, with 49% of the current audience being female. Why did I do this? because women, especially young female creatives should be able to see themselves at the top. It shouldn’t be as difficult as it clearly is to imagine themselves being a CEO, Creative Director, or Company Owners. This can only happen if there is systemic change and alongside further development opportunities, women can break down decades of mental barriers which stops them from applying for that more senior position or taking career risks which could have higher gain.
There’s still a long way to go, but hopefully with the moves like the ones Jessica Walsh, and Leta Sobierajski are making it will allow tens of thousands of young women around the world to think ‘If they can do it, so can I’.
Here’s a list of other female creative directors, or women just doing rad things. Let me know any others in the comments and I’ll get them added.
Blok Design | Worn NYC | Noise 13 | Hey Studio | Alice Tonge | Renata Souza | Aleksandra Gosiewski | Kelly Anna | Margot Lombaert | Cat Drew | Lucy Hardcastle | Daniela Paredes Fuentes | Sophie Walter | Saffa Khan | Sian MacFarlane | Gemma Shiel | Lorna Allan