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IS THE WORLD OF

GRAPHIC DESIGN SEXIST?

AN EXPLORATION INTO THE DESIGN INDUSTRY AND WHY THERE ARE SO FEW WOMEN POWER FIGURES


WHERE ARE ALL

THE WOMEN?

The working world in the U.K is made up of 185,000 graphic designers with 61% male in the profession, however, 70% of graphic design graduates in the U.K are female. So the big question here is where do all the women go after finishing a degree and why is it not the workplace.

In the early 80s artist Barbara Kruger rose to fame by making radical feminist art to get her name out, at its time the work was considered very out there and definitely out there for a woman. A huge part of her fame was her art based on women’s rights. Most notably was a piece of a man holding his index finger to his face in a ‘shh’ gesture with the words “your comfort is my silence” over the top of it. Her work was to demonstrate how women are treated unequally to men, and how men are on top and have their say in what goes on and women should keep quiet and do as told, how in the 80s women were still very much still second class citizens and have no say and get on with it.

70% of graphic design graduates are female Now in 2012, times have no doubt changed and women have almost all the same rights and equalities to men in the western world with career women and househusbands on the rise. The tales of the glass ceiling are gone and women are equal to men in almost every way now, but when the statistics are analysed it does not appear so. With women being paid 17.2% less than their male counterparts it would appear that Barbara Kruger’s work may still be very much relevant in 2012 than it was in 1981. Women are still second to men despite so called equality in terms of professionalism.


Where are all the female

‘superstar designers’?

At a presentation of ‘The Art of the Book: Behind the Covers’ panel discussion featuring some of the top book cover designers, the subject of female ‘superstar designers’ arose and asked Milton Glaser why he thought there was such a ratio occurring. His reply was “that the reason there are so few female rock star graphic designers is that “women get pregnant, have children, go home and take care of their children. And those essential years that men are building their careers and becoming visible are basically denied to women who choose to be at home. Unless something very dramatic happens to the nature of the human experience then it’s never going to change.” This statement struck controversy amongst the crowd and readers of the piece that someone in this day in age could have such a backward way of seeing professional women’s careers. The two ways of viewing what Milton Glaser said is that what he said is absolutely true. Women do give up their careers to become mothers and wives and that’s the end of it, or that graphic design has always been very male based and men are silently trying to keep things that way by ways of hiring and ways of celebrating women’s work.

in the supplement down to the great number of women who leave design early on in their careers, proving yet again that the industry has a long way to go to accommodate women’s professional requirements and to keep valuable talent feeding the beating heart of design.” This again supports Glaser’s theory as to why women are not as prominent in the world of Graphic Design.

In 2010 Design Week rising stars featured fourteen new designers nominated by industry experts, and of those fourteen only one was female. When asked what she thought on this matter, Emily Pacey, a Design Week editor said “The nominators put that lack of women represented

that the reason there are so few female rock star graphic designers is that “women get pregnant, have children, go home and take care of their children. And those essential years that men are building their careers and becoming visible are basically denied to women who choose to be at home. Unless something very dramatic happens to the nature of the human experience then it’s never going to change.


The work of women specifically have been showcased a lot in recent times to celebrate women’s achievements. Books such as ‘Women of Design’ by Bryony Gomez-Palacio ans Armin Vit sets women aside from men in design and shows their work and tells their story. As well as, above everything, the sheer number of women who are currently still practicing design. She intentionally wanted to write the book on ‘The Top 30 Women Of Design’ but found the numbers kept climbing and leaving her with simply calling it ‘Women Of Design’. As part of a review for the book, Fred Showker also stated after reading that “More than half of the graphic designers in the U.S. are women, yet they are less likely to be invited to speak at conferences or to offer expert opinions to the media. Their award-winning work is seen everywhere, but with few exceptions, they are not celebrated in the same way as their male counterparts.” Paula Scher is one of these women who have managed to not be statistically part of the women who drop out of the profession early in her career and is held up as a symbol. She was quoted saying “I envy my male partners who are invited to speak based on their achievements and the prestige as opposed to their Sex.” Paula Scher is known well for being a designer for Pentagram, but always quoted as ‘female graphic designer’ as oppose to simply a designer from Pentagram, the female part always stands out on it’s own as a show of how far we have not achieved in equality. She is asked to talk and is celebrated and known for being a ‘female’ graphic designer and it shouldn’t have to be that way. Had she been a man, she would simply not have had the same treatment. She would not be labelled gender specifically and perhaps, in a slightly contradictory standard, she wouldn’t be any more celebrated or famous than any other designer if she was male because she would stand in the crowd no different to any other designer. Her being female makes her well known and celebrated. As she is one of very few big designer females, she is celebrated, yet other women cant get into the business or find difficulty achieving such high standards and are standing at the bottom of appreciation. In a study carried out January 2012 named ’Women of Graphic Design’ on if it is thought that people make judgments due to sexes in the design industry, 75% of general public said that they think that people and the industry do and the other 25% said that

it depends on the work, the viewer and the circumstances. When asked if they thought men and women are treated equally in this day in age the results shown were again 75% in favour of men are on top for everything and women are still staring at glass ceilings. 16% of the people who disagreed that women and men are equal said things should stay like this and not have equality because this is how it is meant to be with men on top and that the whole situation is about social roles, men may be paid more and women are more likely to win custody of children in a child custody battle, again leading back to women as mothers.

I envy my male partners who are invited to speak based on their achievements and the prestige as opposed to their Sex.

16% of the

general public 25%

75% With people like Paula Scher always having to talk about her sex or have her being female play any part in her career, the survey tailored for this essay asked if the public ever thought that stereotypes will ever dissolve and people like Paula Scher can simply be a designer and not a female designer, Again the results showed that 75% thought that stereotypes will always exist and always be part of what judgements we make of people.

75%


“I rea ll signe y think me rs n think ,’ and I cou are bette r like t l hat it dn’t belie Graphic D eve it. will b I fw e self -fulfi omen lling. ”

ing to find a way get make things better and gain equality for women designers. Graphicbirdwatching has the theory that the imbalance of female graphic designers might not come from a lack in opportunity and is more likely to come from visibility. In an interview with Ann-Kristina “To make it to the top, you need to be Simon about why she set up such projects outspoken, self confident and entrepreneurial, apart from having design talent. I she said “ Ive always been interested in have taught many talented young women feminist issues, I find there is inequality and tried like hell to push them, but most especially in terms of work…I don’t think were too shy, cautious and lacked self have experienced discrimination in terms confidence and ambition” of someone else getting what I want, but I maybe made myself a bit smaller, was a Websites such as graphicsbirdwatching. little insecure. com and Birdseyeview.co.uk have been created specifically for female graphic A friend of mine once told me, ’I really designers and female film makers to show think men are better Graphic Designers,’ their work and new projects and talk and I couldn’t believe it. If women think about their journey into the professions like that it will be self-fulfilling.” This reinforces Hella Jongerius’ theory of women themselves. They had set up to show being much too shy and not ambitious the gender gap is provoking and is tryHella Jongerius had said about women not being on top in graphic design as a confidence lacking in themselves when it comes to standing on top and being the ’design rockstar’

enough to put themselves out there in the first place to really have a go at being the design rockstar. With girls being raised in such ways and being shown the world in the light of even today, a very sexist world. Women are never going to grow up with leadership in mind. With so few examples, women will always be that bit too intimidated and lack the ambition to be anything other than what they are told to be and what the see around them. In general, for Britain there has only been one women in power in recent times and the United States are still to have a female president, but today’s sexist people, no doubt raised in an even more sexist generation will see the rise of woman as enough, although not enough to be equal. This generation will not be ready for that yet, it is still out of this generations achievements and normalities.

confilf e s , n e k o p s t u d to be o e e n u o y , p nt. I o t le e a t h t n o t ig s it e d e k g a in m “To from hav t r a p a l, ia r u e n pre d like hell ie r t d n a n e m dent and entre o d young w e t n le a t y n lacked a d m n t a h s g u u io a t t u e a v c a h too shy, e r e w t s o m t u b to push them, ition” b m a d n a e c n e self confid


Lady Gaga, Kate Bush and Bjork all made a name for themselves in the music industry by being that bit more radical Like Barbara Kruger in the Graphic Design world. Women have to work that bit harder to achieve the same successes as men, and only the really noticeable will gain anything. When asked in the ’Women of Graphic Design survey’ if the general public thought women had to work harder or be more radical to make a name for themselves just to stand out there, the results showed that 56% said women have to have that bit more to get to the top, especially in the arts, it creates a niche or a gimmick they can claim to that gets them noticed and known, even though the same gimmicks done by men would have the same effect in pushing them into attention, many women have to use this solely as an only way to get in.

56% said women have to have that bit more to get to the top, especially in the arts,

Radical

Attention


Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.


George Eliot was an admired author in the 1850’s and done well with novel popularity such as Adam Bede, Middlemarch, Silas Marner and The Mill on the Floss. At this time women were not taken seriously as novelists and their work thought to be ‘silly novels by lady writers’. George Eliots real name is Mary Ann Evans who wanted to break the mould in writing and concealed her identity by claiming a masculine name to be taken seriously, after her work took off in popularity Evans stepped forward to claim that she was George Eliot. Her admitting that the beloved novels had been written by her all along did not affect her popularity. Having these theories of why women are not at the top with men could lead to an answer that has been perhaps overlooked, people simply don’t like work when they know it has been done by a woman. The same circumstances as the Mary Ann Evans/ George Eliot situation where people will register the work being done by a woman before they register the work itself in their head and make their mind up on the spot that they don’t like it, purely on the parenthesis of the work’s creator. To investigate this theory, the survey conducted for this essay asked if people would feel differently about a piece of work they admired if it was revealed to have been done by a woman. The results show that 32% of people said they would feel differently about the piece, But 62% of that 32% said it would make them like it more and have more respect for it, the remaining 68% said it would have no impact on their opinion on the piece because they liked it in the first place. This result shows very

32%

93%

68%

25% little evidence that people are opposed to the idea of the work being done by a women, in some cases it enhances their experience. Although on a much smaller scale, people do feel differently when it is revealed to be a women behind the work whether it is in favour of the designer or not. But this shows that it is not the work in question at all, simply the notion of who is behind it.

5%

45%

When The Work

Hides It’s Creator

50%

With results of 25% of those surveyed for this essay, who said they would like the piece of work, they had previously admired, even more after finding out it had been done by a women, they were asked if sexism was present in a design group, would it be in favour of women or against women. Interestingly, 45% said that they think it would be against women, 50% said it would depend on various circumstances such as types of briefs and who the design group consisted of and only 5% said it would be in favour of women even though results have shown that 68% said it wouldn’t make a difference to them whether or not it was a woman’s Work. Statistically a staggering 93% said that if they like the work it doesn’t matter about the sex of the person behind it, even appreciate it more than originally, yet feel that sexism is against women. This brings upon the theory that as a western civilisation in a forward moving world we like to think we are just that, when reality shows that we are not just that, despite differences in age, race and occupation it is still thought to be a sexist world in Graphic Design toward women although we do not want it to be.


If women are too shy and intimidated by men in the business, what is the cause of this? Starting with childhood, girls are still aimed at for more domesticated toys, Barbie who has been around for since 1959 has been a top seller and favourite to young girls with the main idea for the doll as a model for fashion clothes, nothing more, even after given something to do like ‘Astronaut Barbie’ or ‘Doctor Barbie’ but still marketed only for wearing the clothes, dating on-off boyfriend Ken and socialising with her friends. This toy only met it’s match in 2009 when Bratz dolls started to outsell Barbie. Bratz dolls being a slightly updated version of the same idea, fashion wearing dolls with the only importance in their lives as socialising with friends and wearing trendy clothes. Other popular toys aimed at girls to play with are toy ironing boards, easy bake ovens, polly pockets, princess dresses and accessories, babies, my little pony, doodle bear and sky dancers. All these toys are domestic based and/or are looks based. Most of these toys are still on the market for today’s consumers to buy, which is fine by consumer demand but the alternatives are still not around. 2012’s most popular toys for girls list is Barbies three story dream house, Kidskraft kitchen, Calico critters luxury town house and baby alive learns to potty. Nothing that could potentially lead to career minded women. As for movies that young girls watch, for many years the ultimate in children’s films has been anything Disney. The top seller for girls being The Little Mermaid, followed by Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Snow White and the seven dwarves. All these films depict women as creatures of beauty who await marriage after spending their life so far doing very little. The examples are set from a young age that this is what women do. With other top films for girls beyond Childhood, lovefilm. com’s top movies for girls list are ‘Dirty Dancing’, ‘Beaches’, ‘Gone With The Wind’, ‘Serendipity’ and ‘The notebook’. colloquially named ‘chick flicks‘, all these films are centred around romance and ultimately showing young women that that life is all there is. A life of looking pretty to fall in love and live happily ever after as a wife and mother no doubt. Amongst the enormous amounts of ’feminine’ films and television, the nineties showed some

hope of female protagonists when a sudden trend in third wave feminism known as ’girl power’ appeared alongside the Spice Girls music and television programs such as ‘Buffy the vampire slayer’, ‘Xena; Warrior Princess’ and video games first female protagonist Lara Croft in ’Tomb Raider’. Even though this surge of women in power seemed empowering for girls and women, it had been designed with sex appeal intact, making it more appealing to men and again influencing girls and young women that the importance’s in life is looking good. Childhood movies and toys aside, magazines are not helping the cause either. The average women’s magazine bases on fashion, hair and make-up tips, sex tips, relationship tips and celebrity gossip. All of the above centres again on looking pretty and finding a relationship. As far as getting money is involved, it is becoming less and less about job interests and is all about looking pretty. The rise in reality television has provoked many children to saying that they want to be a ’celebrity’ when they grow up. Amongst the many women involved in this media are Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Nicole Polizza also known as Snooki on reality show ‘Jersey Shore‘, Nicole Richie and Jodie Marsh. The rise in celebutante lifestyle is another way of showing a life where there is no career, the career is having no career and simply looking good in day to day life. The strive to influence women into being strong, Independent and career driven is hard to find. In the ’Women of Graphic Design’ survey asking if the public thought girls toys make girls less inclined to be career minded and more Domesticated, the results were in a cross division, 44% said they think that the toys do influence domestication and not much imagination in them, however 44% said that they think the toys they played with as children have no impact in what future decision people make, but 11% said that it all depends. If the child is given gender orientated toys to play with instead of letting the child choose from an array of toys then it would have an impact on what girls are meant to do and what boys are meant to do as from that point, parents are more or less telling them what they should be like on the grounds of stereotyping genders. When asked if they thought reality stars such as Paris Hilton

and Kim Kardashian and countless Big Brother winners and losers made young girls less career minded as they show the stars of these shows doing very little. mostly shopping and socializing. 44% said that they don’t think that they make women less career minded as many will rebel against that as an image because some see them as dumb and don’t want that to be associated with them as well as they have build a career within having no career, However, 33% said that it all depends on the acknowledgement of the viewer. The viewer either registers the life of the reality star as glamorous, fun and not much in terms of responsibility, whereas the truth of the matter is, these girls probably don’t live their lives like this but the not so glamorous lifestyle will not be shown on television as well as the stars expand their business with perfumes and clothing lines and use their names they have created for themselves as a marketing scheme for their products. Aswell as the vast amount of people who will be involved and building their own career out of the reality stars name. 11% said simply that these people are created purely for money. “No these women are actively scamming people from their money so in a sick kind of way it is business minded as they are just selling themselves” When the public asked if they thought that so called ‘chick flicks’ or films directed at young women were less likely to encourage women to be business minded, 66% said no. The roles make the women come off as strugglers in life and almost always have the basis around a romance plot. “no they don’t a lot of them are about woman trying to find a man and it’s beyond a cliché, also a lot show women who do work to severely struggle with doing both at the same time and are viewed almost negatively for trying while a man sits in the conner and and ignores her plight” And stemming back to an earlier age, when the public was asked if they thought the ever favourite Disney Princesses set a bad example 55% said yes and that they were an awful. Almost all portray a girl as simply a damsel in distress and which the main basis in the story is again, to fall in love with a man.

44% said they think that the toys do influence domestication and not much imagination in them,

“Of course they do! It’s all well and good to spark the girls imagination, but most of these films, if not all, say that the girls life

is going to be horrible and meaningless until she is saved by a man.” When conflictingly 33% said no and that as children they had watched and admired the Disney princess films and that they had no impact on their lives and that they are simply nice fairytales that should be told to children and some say they have improved over the years, “old ones yes but the new I ones are proactive like Rapunzel and the hard working Tiana from princess and the frog” and a much more different look on the Disney Princess outlook was a comment that suggested that they help today’s society “No. If anything the idea of being a more pleasant and mannered person (not just a female) is something that is dying in today’s society”. The fantasy of being a princess in a difficulty household for example can provide the child with a sense of escapism. Also aspiration is a massive factor here as the girl may never be a princess but the ambition to be something more (in a kind of “wow I wanna have that glam”) sense would entice the girl to do better” An important difference to note is even though some felt that Disney have tried to improve this problem by making newer Disney characters a bit more conventional with women in careers, Most notably the character ‘Tiana’ from ‘The Princess And The Frog’ “What those women who always need a man to rescue them? no even the modern ones which try to turn that concept on its head are some how fundamentally flawed it’s just not as one sided on the saving, the only one which shows a business minded woman in the film “princess and the frog” shows a competent woman with and incompetent man (who are turned into frogs) but that against a barrage of others which implies the opposite makes it almost redundant and it isn’t even a popular one or nothing.” This Survey’s results show that the majority feel this variety of popular concepts have an influence on Children’s upbringings, Be it career minded or how to act with gender specifically in mind.

What makes a

woman

childhood movies, toys and magazines centres again on looking pretty and finding a relationship.


Both men and women are brought up thinking this is how women are meant to be and this is what women are meant to do in life.

Women as a

Decorative sex “My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly.”

Oscar Wilde once famously quoted in ‘The Picture Of Dorian Gray‘ “My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly.’ A quote that very much fit’s what young women are being taught from an early age. It would appear the only real importance in life, for a girl, is looking good. Advertisements on television are filled with the latest makeup products, razors, shampoos, perfumes and accessories for women to make them more beautiful because that is what western civilisation expects of women. All of the above combinate in how young girls and women think they have to be themselves. But for women it becomes harder to be this image of beauty when it come to pornography. Feminists fight back and forth on pornography being a good thing or bad with its content being exploitive of women, but what they miss is how airbrushed the women who appear in the magazines and films are. It projects a whole new version of how to look. Many of the women are airbrushed for the magazines or films but on top of that many have undergone a lot of plastic surgery to make them achieve almost inhuman appearances. Not only do women feel they must be pretty with their makeup, shaved legs and armpits, perfect hair, clothes and accessories with their domesticated roles and fall in love, but they must also have liposuction of

every area of the body, Have enormous breast implants and lip implants. The fear of not being pretty stems beyond what they think pretty and enters what young boys and men think is pretty. When beauty and attractiveness are the only roles shown to women, viewed by both men and women, there is very little way women can be taken seriously in this world. Both men and women are brought up thinking this is how women are meant to be and this is what women are meant to do in life. There are very few mediums where women are shown as dominate or men as effeminate because from what we are brought up with, no one is interested in that, it is not what we know or are comfortable with.


Theory of a

Designer

To investigate if women simply are too shy and not ambitious enough to push forward in this business, an interview was conducted with a new female Graphic Designer to the industry. Lucy Norris had left University last year and is now an inhouse designer. She was interviewed for this essay to find out about her journey into the world of Graphic Design as a female. When asked if the people she worked alongside are mostly male or female she replied

generation everyone tries to treat both gender equally but i still think on the odd occasion a man may get picked over a women.” This answer would point towards the design industry being sexist towards women and reinforces the theory that we want to be an equal society but we just are not. When asked about if she thought the reason behind women not being as high up in the working world she answered

“The majority are male, there are about “ No I don’t think women are shy I think 4 females who work in the office, I am the that it’s just luck of the draw. Employer only one who designs to my knowledge.” pick the best candidate. If only 40% get hired then maybe some women choose In an already male dominated environa different path to lead. I don’t think it ment, she was asked if she thought the anything to do with equal inequalities. Graphic Design industry was sexist. She I agree things are changing all the time answered and it will get better for women. It never stops us before, when we use to use men “I don’t think that the graphic design names to get to where we want in life, so industry is sexist today, but there seem why should it stop us now.” to be more men in the industry, as when I had been on my placements the majorFrom this interview the conclusion ity of people in the studios are male and drawn, is even though Lucy got into the there has only been about one other graphic design workforce wasn’t altofemale besides me. In some cases men gether difficult, the workforce itself still are employed over women as you often appears to be a sexist one at present, and see more women doing the less high Lucy seems to be one of the lucky few, ends jobs, for example shop assistant, but this scenario has the hopes of changor caters. In certain industries the whole ing in the future. concept that women should be stay at home mothers or that women are just To further investigate the perceptions weak still exist but most industries these of those in the Graphic Design industry, days accept both genders.” An interview with a male who has been in the design industry for more than 20 When she was asked if she thought years to get a mans perspective on what women are still behind in design due is felt by these statistics and what could to motherhood and will never become lead to them. The interview for this design rockstars, her reply was perspective was with Jim Millington, a Graphic Designer and senior lecturer at “ I do think women are still behind in The University Of Cumbria the design industry but only because on what I seen on my placements.” Upon “ Women are more risk a verse than men. being questioned on if she thought men Women have a maternal instinct, not just and women are treated equally and if mothers, but females generally speaking. women have to work that bit harder to So males will take more risk and do more prove themselves she replied “No I think stupid things than women wouldn’t do. both genders have to work equally to it’s a biology thing. Back in cave days men get to where they want. I think in this and women would hunt but if women

would then get pregnant then they would not hunt and take up foraging and staying home to have the child, and it would become more for the man to hunt and provide for the women as the woman is creating life. For me it’s interesting that you are even asking this question, just goes to show something caused you to investigate into the gender studies of this. Its interesting because there are societies where the women are more powerful sex, in the human and animal world. In the human world with the matriarchs. This isn’t me speaking for myself but the answer lies with ‘why aren’t you happy in the kitchen?’ if you look at Maselo’s hierarchy of needs, it covers everything from war to food and then sex is on a different level because it is not as important. Right at the top though is knowing who you are, along with surviving obviously, but finding your own self-satisfaction with Life. But I guess within that women are given a role and a lot of them will find satisfaction in it and have a lot of pride in what they do and feel that is who they are, many only wanted to be mothers and are proud to be mothers. But obviously a lot of women are not happy with it and want something different and have to fight for it. it’s a stereotype and there is always going to be stereotypes because they play a role in life. The same goes for men and people of races. Many people will always have to justify what they do. The whole situation is easy to turn on its head, like they have ‘The Black Music Awards’ and you think where’s the white music awards then you feel awful for thinking that. For men whenever they get a job that involves children they get ‘why are you working with children you are not a real man’ or worse, everyone looks at them like they are paedophiles, then they have to be checked and nobody trusts them and they have not done anything wrong or to deserve it, they are just stereotypes that people will always have in their heads and making your way in life and having to justify it will always be.”

From Jim Millington’s interview, Justification of who you are against your own stereotype for anything will always exist. Biologically women are adopt roles that suit them, who they are personally. For some its staying home, being a mother and housewife and for some it’s chasing ideals outside of their stereotype and out of many’s comfort zone. Many will always associated women with housewives and mothers, as will those who are women stepping into the world of male dominated work and know they are the difference and will know why they are justifying it.

Celebrity is good for certain things. It puts the butts in the seats at the 92nd Street, for instance. But it’s not the only thing, and based on the reactions of those people in the audience last week, it might be time for something more.


Michael Bierut, a Graphic Designer at Pentagram was the moderator of the presentation of ‘The Art of the Book: Behind the Covers’ panel discussion to which Milton Glaser expessed his opinion on why there are no female Graphic Designers rockstars. His opinions on the matter were very different to Glaser’s opinion but much more explored and thought through upon the question. He wrote a piece for ‘The Design Observer Group’ webpage entitled ‘The Graphic Glass Ceiling’ “On stage, I remember feeling...well, I remember feeling there sure are a lot of guys up here. As I recall, I eventually volunteered that, in fact, cover design was a part of our field that had provided a route to success for several notable female designers, including Louise Fili, Carin Goldberg, Knopf’s Carol Carson and Barbara DeWilde, not to mention (as noted by our questioner) my own partner Paula Scher. There didn’t seem to be much else to say. Now, it occurs to me now that I might have also said that evening that three of the world’s best book designers — no, make that the three best book designers in the world — are all women: Julia Hasting, Lorraine wild, and Irma

Boom. But this misses the point. Because the issue isn’t about talent, or ability, or accomplishment. It’s about celebrity… “Superstar” designers — and that’s what we’re talking about; read the question again — aren’t just good designers. They’re celebrity designers. And celebrity is a very specific commodity. It certainly helps to be good at what you do to be a celebrity designer (although celebrities in others fields don’t always seem to have this requirement). But that’s only a start. You also need to develop a vivid personality, an appetite for attention, and a knack for self-promotion. Accept every speaking engagement. Cough up a memorable mot juste for every interviewer. Make sure they spell your name right every time. This is time consuming work, particularly on top of your regular job, which presumably consists of doing good graphic design. Naturally, if you choose this route, it helps to be free of the distractions of ten to twenty years of caring for children, to say the least. In many ways, Milton Glaser’s observations were shocking only in their obviousness. We all know that women face challenges in the workplace that go far beyond being denied spots on panel discussions. According to a 2004 study, women make only 75.5 cents for every dollar earned by men. Last year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handled over 23,000 charges of sex-based discrimination. Just a few months ago, the London School Of Economics estimated at it will take 150 years to eliminate economic inequality based on gender worldwide. These are real problems. Yet, you have to start somewhere. Glaser answered the question on the card, but the real question was the

unspoken one: “Why is it that you guys up there are always...guys?” There is no good answer for this, and it doesn’t seem we should have to wait 150 years to come up with one. It’s depressing for a profession that’s more than half female to keep putting up 100% male rosters, at the 92nd Street Y or anywhere else And I say this with no small degree of self consciousness, as a member of a firm where only 10% of their partners are women. This is what made me squirm last Monday night, and it’s what makes me squirm today. Celebrity is good for certain things. It puts the butts in the seats at the 92nd Street Y, for instance. But it’s not the only thing, and based on the reactions of those people in the audience last week, it might be time for something more.”

as equals and that the majority of us do not discrimininate against anyone, especially not something as old and silly as sexism, this is not the dark ages. But whether we notice it or not, it is still everywhere and unless the majority let go of stereotyping everything, from men working with children are paedophiles to women drivers are terrible jokes. Truth is we are still being force fed that women as mothers and sex objects. If women choose these stereotyped roles because they feel that that is who they are and find a comfort within these jobs or social roles, then who is to say they are wrong, but the notion that is force fed to world that this is all women are make it very difficult to be taken seriously in a different light or seen in any other way. The way that the media, movies, advertising, celebrities, children’s gender orientated toys even fashion clothes make the world see women as nurturers to everyone else around them. The ambitious women who make up that 70% of Graphic Design graduates are beaten to the end line by others who are associated with stronger expectations and women feel beaten by not reaching the end goal and don’t strive to continue. Some do and get their place in the Graphic Design industry, but many don’t and fall away to different things because the will in women in not strong enough to push through the stereotypes and be different. If they way that children are raised and women are portrayed, One day people will associate everyone as equals and there will not be a parenthesis on gender when it comes to the world of Graphic Design.

I say this with no small degree of self consciousness, as a member of a firm where only 10% of their partners are women. This is what made me squirm last Monday night, and it’s what makes me squirm today Michael Bierut’s quote, through really thinking about it, has summed up the results of the research conducted for this essay. Women are left in the dark still in Graphic Design out of a mixture of thing. Sexism is one, but amongst bigger problems. Women are not as ambitious today in large numbers because women are still not brought up to be ambitious. Domestication still aets the rules in female’s heads from childhood movies to television adverts. Until the days where both men and women start seeing women as more that something pretty that tidies the house, cooks and is a sex object and is not remarkable as a person unless she is all of the above, then women are simply not going to move forward in the world of Graphic Design. In this day in age we like to think that we see women


CREATED BY

KIRSTY THOMSON 2012

DISSERTATION AND DESIGN PIECE YEAR 3 GRAPHIC DESIGN UNIVERSITY OF CUMBRIA


Graphic Design sexist?