Celebrating Women in Design
As designers, our jobs are about solving creative problems for our clients and the most important thing to keep in mind when coming up with these creative solutions is the audiences we’re targeting. The audiences we’re constantly trying to reach include people of different genders, religions, ethnicities, and cultures which is why diversity is essential in design groups. In order to reach these audiences, we believe you need to have designers who align with their views and perspectives because you need to have voices that understand the audiences we, as designers, are always trying to reach.
One thing we pride ourselves in at PMG is that our creative team is mainly made up of six incredibly talented women (plus Scott). And that wasn’t intentional. The first step we take in hiring Graphic Designers is through a blind portfolio test. Before we even look at a candidate’s resume, name, or bio, we take a look at their work and decide if we want to move forward with the next step. It’s a way to filter through to the best candidates, all of which have happened to be women. We work for retail brands and on social media campaigns where women are a large part of the target audience – giving our team a unique advantage. Since our creative team is pretty heavily loaded with females, it goes without saying that we have a lot of love for the topic of women in design.
Like many other professions, the field of graphic design began as one dominated by males. To this day, the industry is still seemingly led by men. Google search results for “notable graphic designers” show only one woman on the first page of results. In a publication released last year, “Graphic Designers Surveyed,” authors Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright found that “while women designers are generally better educated than their male counterparts, they are still paid less.” This reveals that now it is more important than ever to recognize the important role that women play in design.
As consumers, women are responsible for 70-80% of purchases, making them the primary decision-makers in most households. They not only buy for themselves but their children, husbands, friends, and family. Because of this, it is important to have women in design who understand how to speak to these consumers, can push objectification and stereotypes to the side, and usher in a new normal in advertising. Going further, it is important to maintain female talent at all levels of a company. Experienced women in senior level positions can help foster learning and development in more junior creatives; allowing a diverse culture of gender equality to grow. A research study by McKinsey shows that of the 366 public companies analyzed, companies that exhibit more gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform their less diverse competitors. Gender diversity is not only better for employees and consumers, but for companies as well. To see how to better foster women in design, let’s take a look at some women who have helped further our role.
Suggested Reading: Diversity in Design
There are some big shoes to fill when it comes to the future of design, but thankfully, we have some inspiring women to take notes from. While there are many talented women in the creative industry, we have crafted a list of women who have been champions for all the ladies in design.
When it comes to women in design, Paula Scher is probably the GOAT (that’s Greatest of All Time). In the history of visual communication, Paula Scher is an incredibly influential designer among men and women. One look at her portfolio and you immediately see her innovative use of typography, layout, and color among clients such as CitiBank, Microsoft, and The New York Public Theater. When Scher told her parents that she wanted to move to New York to study and work in design, her parents said, “Don’t do anything like that. It sounds like it takes talent.” As a backup plan, her mother made her earn a degree in education. She didn’t really need that contingency plan because, in 1991, Scher became a partner at Pentagram in its New York office. Out of fifteen Pentagram partners, Scher was the only woman at the time. She learned to hold her own in a male-dominated environment and established herself as a successful woman designer. By letting her work and talent speak for her, Scher became the first female principal at Pentagram.
Paula Scher continues to do amazing work at Pentagram, and she laid the groundwork for women who are moving and shaking the design industry right now. The “Jessicas” are two more ladies of design we love — Jessica Hische and Jessica Walsh, that is.
Jessica Hische, freelance designer, illustrator, and hand letterer is currently paving the way for women in design. Hische is widely known for her one of a kind typographic works and also is a self-proclaimed “procrastiworker,” meaning she sometimes puts off those tasks that have to be done in order to make time for passion projects. Outside of her freelance business, Hische is a lecturer and believes that knowledge should be accessible and openly shared. She likes being a resource to others and is active on Twitter and on her website’s blog where she shares her thoughts and advice for designers. Hische is also an advocate of fair pricing not just for women, but for any kind of creative talent.
Our other favorite Jessica is Jessica Walsh. Walsh is a partner at Sagmeister & Walsh, a branding and creative studio in New York City. At the age of 30, she has become a leader in the design industry and a champion for women in design. When Walsh began her career, she did not encounter many hurdles being a woman in design. (Fun fact: she interned at Pentagram under our friend, Paula Scher). It was not until forming her own studio, with business partner Stephan Sagmeister, that Walsh’s gender began affecting her career and reputation. Being a younger designer with a social media presence, Walsh was often shamed online. Haters attributed her success to her looks, not her talents or drive. After writing this article, Walsh founded Ladies, Wine Design, which is an “initiative that fosters female creativity” and encourages women to take on more leadership roles in the creative field. Ladies, Wine Design now has 120 chapters all over the world, where monthly meetups take place to discuss design and enjoy some wine. You can check out the website to find a local chapter near you.
Thanks to women like Paula and the Jessicas, women in design have some amazing examples to look up to. The ladies of PMG’s creative team are confident in the future of women in design. So, what does the next up and coming lady of graphic design look like? There are plenty of qualities we can give her, including, but not limited to: innovation, leadership, communication, drive, adaptability, and so on. The next leader in design will have to be a person who is inspired by our world that is ever-changing and acts upon those creative instincts. She will be an influencer for change and inspiration to others. She will exhibit some or all of the habits of leading women in digital design. From our favorite designers, it is clear that their talents have made them outstanding, but it is their passion and willingness to step away from what is comfortable that propels their career paths.
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Women in design are just getting started. Every day women are breaking boundaries and producing amazing work. There are a lot of young talented women who will pave the way to the future of the industry. With the help of our fellow ladies and supportive male advocates, we can shape the industry into one of inclusiveness and equality. We can help demand recognition for women’s incredible role in design. So put on your sunglasses ladies because the future is bright! ☀️
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