When Emma isn't writing copy and trying to be as cool as Don Draper, she's probably drinking coffee. Or watching RuPaul's Drag Race. Or both.

Women’s Work

Advertising used to be sexist. REALLY sexist. The sort of this-toaster/hoover/pen-is-so-simple-even-a-woman-can-use-it sexist. And while we may all have a good chuckle at these ridiculous messages today, the reality is that women still face an uphill struggle for all-out equality. Case in point – senior positions in the design industry.

Research by the BBC in 2012 found that women hold less than a third of the UK’s top jobs[1], and Elle UK’s recent ‘More Women’ campaign has reinforced just how few women there are in positions of authority across a range of professional sectors (check out their campaign video below)[2]. But there are organisations who are fighting back, striving to create opportunities for women to break into the upper echelons of the working world. Kerning the Gap is one such organisation.

Founded by Good London MD Nat Maher after she noticed a considerable shortage of women in senior positions throughout the design industry, the collective is dedicated to creating more design leadership roles for women across the field, holding events and talks by successful female figures. Their website highlights some statistics that are, frankly, shocking to read in our supposedly progressive age:

  • 70% of graphic design students are women. Only 3% are Creative Directors.
  • Despite girls being the frontrunners at every level of education, a mere 18% of the board of FTSE 250 businesses are female.
  • Out of the top 100 ‘designerati’ featured in The Drum’s 2015 list, there are only 13 women.
  • The government has introduced a rule that says businesses over 250 employees must publish their pay scales, but 98% of design businesses employ less than 50 people, so pay transparency is still an issue.

(statistics from kerningthegap.com)

The visibility of women in the workplace continues to be an issue even almost 40 years after the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 70s. The European Commission reported that in 2013, women working in the EU were earning an average of 16.4% less than their male counterparts[3], an issue that has been attracting substantial attention in recent months thanks to a slew of high-profile actresses speaking out about the gender divide in wages in Hollywood. Obviously the wages they’re talking about are in the realm of fantasy for most ordinary people, but the basic principle of unequal pay for equal work unfortunately remains the same.

Here at Front Page, it’s a bit of a femme-fest all round, with two out of three of our managing directors and over half our full-time staff all of the XX persuasion, so we’re happy to say that we’re doing our bit to pave the way for women in the industry. But if organisations like Kerning the Gap tell us anything about the gender divide in the working world, it’s that the glass ceiling might be getting thinner, but it’s undoubtedly still there.

[1] http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-18187449 19/10/15
[2] http://www.elleuk.com/tags/more-women
[3] http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Gender_pay_gap_statistics

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