Australian Women In Design

Something that has been coming up a lot in conversation recently is the lack of women in the Australian design industry. Sure it’s not a new topic, but it’s a problem that hasn’t been given the attention it deserves. I started writing this article a few weeks ago after listening to Julie Faktor on Australian Design Radio because it really got me thinking about how male dominated the current creative industry is.

I started thinking about design studios and agencies I’m familiar with and it was genuinely hard to come up with a solid list of female creative directors. That’s not to say I can’t think of inspiring women back home that I admire and respect, but career paths and behaviours are vastly different when it comes to men and women.

There’s the smaller studios like Maud, Studio Brave, Christopher Doyle & Co., Hunt & Co., MoffittMoffitt, Born and Raised, M35, as well as the larger agencies like Houston, Interbrand, Re:, Frost and Landor. All of which are top heavy with male CDs. These are all great studios with great directors and I’m certainly not implying there is some secret He-Man Woman Haters Club. I loved the Backstreet Boys* but I’m concerned and sitting here wondering where the Spice Girls at? There are a few women in Australia killing it in senior positions but you must admit it’s disproportionate.

Where are all the girl bosses? The bad bitches? Stop right now (and tell me where the Spice Girls are) thank you very much.

Is it the salary inequality that still exists between genders? Are those taking leave to have babies not returning? I don’t really want to get into the laughing status of Australian politics, but how do new mums stand a chance at returning to work when they can barely afford the time to produce another living human being?

Even if we take motherhood out of the equation, it doesn’t add up. There are lots of great design studios that started with a group of boys in their parents basement right after graduating. 20-somethings with nothing to lose who have turned a few projects with mates into sustainable businesses. There’s Motherbird, Mentally Friendly, False Behaving Animals, Nowhere Famous—all smaller studios that formed straight from college or after short stints in the industry. Girls in their early 20’s who aren’t married and aren’t having kids just aren’t going out and starting their own studios like men are and I find that really interesting. I want to know why.

I’d love to hear more thought’s on this and what we can do to answer Julie’s original question about ensuring women have a place in senior design positions. We’re meant to be problem solvers after all, so let’s get brainstorming!

* I regret nothing.

Gabby Lord