Computer Arts - - Industry Issues -

Around 70 per cent of UK de­sign stu­dents are women, but just 12 per cent of Lon­don cre­ative di­rec­tors are fe­male. Here, five cre­atives re­flect on the hur­dles that fe­male de­sign­ers face...

HEIDI SHEP­HERD Se­nior de­signer, GBH

“Women who dis­play lead­er­ship qual­i­ties in the work­place are of­ten la­belled as mean and un­like­able. Women are told they should be nur­tur­ing, nice and al­tru­is­tic. When we have th­ese gen­der qual­i­ties en­grained in us, it’s hard to brush them off. Re­cent cam­paigns like Ban Bossy have helped, but more needs to be done to al­low women to dis­play lead­er­ship qual­i­ties.”

KATH TUDBALL De­sign di­rec­tor, The Part­ners

“Many young women sim­ply do not see cre­ative ca­reers as com­pat­i­ble with rais­ing a young fam­ily, and are mak­ing early choices ac­cord­ingly. The fact that the youngest women in our in­dus­try al­ready feel that their fu­ture selves will not be able to reach lead­er­ship level be­cause they might one day have a fam­ily is de­press­ing and am­bi­tion crushing.”

OTEGHA UWAGABA Founder, Women Who

“I think it’s the re­sult of sys­temic is­sues and male-dom­i­nated work­places. It’s re­sulted in a sce­nario where women are con­di­tioned to be happy with what they’ve got. One of the things I wanted to do with my Lit­tle Black Book [a hand­book for work­ing women] was shine a light on what you should be do­ing, what you should ex­pect, and what you should be ask­ing for.”

HE­LEN FUCHS De­sign di­rec­tor, ustwo

“A lot of busi­ness still hap­pens at the pub. When you’re bal­anc­ing a fam­ily, there’s not a lot of time for hang­ing out, and if you’ve got men mak­ing de­ci­sions on who to pro­mote, outof-work re­la­tion­ships might come into play. I’ve ben­e­fit­ted from Women into Lead­er­ship, which holds peo­ple to ac­count and en­cour­ages them to be ul­tra-trans­par­ent in how they hire.”


“It’s re­ally hard to be what you can’t see. I don’t just mean that in a gen­der sense. When I was a lot younger, I’d look up at peo­ple in lead­er­ship po­si­tions and see the way they’d be forced to be­have, and feel it didn’t rep­re­sent who I was or wanted to be. There’s a job to be done cham­pi­oning dif­fer­ent types of lead­er­ship and dif­fer­ent types of role model.”

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