This years International Women’s Day got me thinking about my own mother. A graphic designer working in the 70’s and a source of constant inspiration to me. Things were different then, and knowing my own mother wasn’t put off by what was a heavily male-dominated industry made me realise I could do whatever I put my mind to.
Talking to her about her experience she remembers the inequalities she had to face. From a tutor in 1971 remarking “You girls are only killing time until you get married” to grades being noticeable higher for the men at the end of their 3 year diploma (even though the standard of work from the women was as high if not higher).
Her working life saw similar struggles, with a freelancing male colleague duplicating her designs and passing them off as his own. The men that made the final decisions used his work even though it would evidently cost them more. It was confusing and frustrating, but at the same time, rather standard.
Thankfully things have changed immeasurably as the years have gone on, and women don’t have to shout to be heard, but there are still more men in the design world than women. In 2015 the Design Council reported that the UK’s design workforce was 78% male and 22% female. More
I am extremely proud to work within the design industry and love the variety and creativity that naturally comes with the job, but I’m not sure how I would have dealt with my mothers obstacles. We should therefore always be encouraging young women to be brave. There is always room for more forward thinking female minds and seeing the ratios even-out can only add more value to the many different and exciting design industries out there.