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Female Graphic Designers- Where are the role models?

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by Kelly Parham, Oct 22, 2010.

  1. Kelly Parham

    Kelly Parham New Member

    I am researching Female Graphic Designers, and why so few design role models are women.

    But is this true? Do any of you have female design role models? Why are we not hearing about them in university? There are 50/50 classes of female and male Graphic Design classes so where do the female designers go? Does marriage and motherhood get in the way of a successful career, or do women define a successful career differently to men? Do we need to encourage this to change? Or is it fine how it is?

    Any thoughts are appreciated.

    Kelly Parham
    Level 3
    Graphic Design Student
  2. Esh

    Esh Member

    I've often wondered this, and to be honest, I've rarely come across a 'properly employed' female designer. The majority of women designers I know of tend to be freelance, and this is usually due to:
    - lack of opportunity/jobs, or just not being able to get into studios
    - work/life balance. A lot of women (not all!) tend to have a child or two by their mid to late twenties, and this can be problematic, as these are the years when ones career really begins to take off (if it does lol). Also, pay tends to be pretty low in design, and a women who has to work full-time would most likely struggle because of child-care costs etc.

    Also, the only female designers I know, who would be considered succesful, have only become succesful through starting their own studio and becoming employers themselves.

    I'm not sure about the 50/50 ratio. I've been on 3 different formal graphic design courses, and various software training courses, and usually its around 3 females to every 15/20 males.
  3. l_evernden

    l_evernden New Member

    Have you read any books by Liz Mcquiston?
  4. djb

    djb Member

    4 of the 8 managers I’ve had in my career have been women. Out of those, 2 of them owned the companies and had had children during their career.

    I don’t know about role models as such, you’re getting a bit technical there for me, but 3 of the 8 bosses I really, really enjoyed working with and as such inspired me - all of whom were ladies.

    Not sure where I’m going with this really!
  5. Kelly Parham

    Kelly Parham New Member

    l_evernden- Yes I have read 'A Contemporary View' and 'Suffragettes..' which were both very useful. Suffragettes was more a history of women's lib using graphic design as a propaganda tool, and A Contemporary View was a snapshot of female designers in the 1980's, but both have given me good leads.

    Pinkdot Creative Member- This is very insightful as most people have said most classes are 50/50. And many of the other points you make are very true. What do you think needs to be done to help women get on in their career?

    djb- Thank you for that it is good to know that some people do experience a 50/50 split of male/female managers. Do you think this is rare though?

  6. this_is_peter

    this_is_peter New Member

  7. rach27

    rach27 Member

    Darn... I wrote a reply and then lost it. I'll try to remember what I put. Here goes.

    I'm a female designer and was employed FT for 7 years before deciding to leave to freelance. An 8 month contract came up and after that I was offered a PT role while I freelanced. That lasted 2 years before being made redundant this year. I now work freelance FT which was my original intention, because there was no room to grow or move up in the companies I was working for. I'm now hoping to build my reputation as a freelancer and through sharing my design experience and skills through blogging.

    Working freelance suits me because I prefer cutting out the middle man and working directly with clients, I'd rather earn money for my own pocket and the flexibility of freelance. My personal/family life isn't a factor in my decision.

    I have worked for an all male and an all female design company. The all male one wasn't that great with communication but I suspect that's more to do with the actual company. The guys were easy to get on with apart from the other graphic designer who was older, sat in his own world and wasn't that approachable for help unless you wanted idiot comments flung at you. A couple of other designers who worked there for a while were totally different - easy to get on with, helpful and wanted to talk about ideas and design stuff. One guy in particular became kind of a mentor for me and had a fantastic way of working with amazing sketches. He was lively, bursting with ideas and a very happy go lucky sort of person. This led to the question 'Are there 2 types of designers? - The extrovert and the introvert'

    The all girl company was a bit more open and organised. The owner has a child but works FT as normal. I did find a lot of conversations about shopping, clothing and showing each other their newly purchased clothes asking 'what do you think?'. I also found that although having a friendly atmosphere is great, it can create blurred lines between the boss and the staff. And that's what happened there.

    These differences are probably more to do with how the companies are run rather than boys vs girls.

    There are many great female designers out there though :icon_biggrin:

    Hope my reply helps and sorry for rambling on a bit :icon_wink:
  8. sweetums

    sweetums Member

    She's another freelancer but I'd recommend also checking out Jessica Hische as she has done some truly amazing stuff for both illustration and design.
  9. Peter_su88

    Peter_su88 Member

    interesting stuff here..
  10. Kai16

    Kai16 Member

    This is a good question! It made me think that, although i've found some really good female designers, I wouldn't call them my role models I guess =s
    Some of my favourite ones are:
    - PRINT
    ^She's got some amazing typography work =D
    Untitled Document
    ^She's also got some amazing typographic and illustration work
  11. SparkCreative

    SparkCreative Member

    What about Paula Scher?

    Or Tiger Savage, from the advertising world?
  12. Kai16

    Kai16 Member

  13. graphicbreeze

    graphicbreeze Member

    all the GD years in my school are dominated by females. So not sure why I rarely hear about female GD's either
  14. garlex

    garlex Member

    I think this ratio must be about right and I wouldn't be surprised if this diminishes as they go through life. I very rarely get applications from female graphic designers and on reflection I do find this really strange.
    I have to say though, I would employ soley on ability!

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