1+1=2

 BY ISABEL URBINA PEÑA

 

Almost a month ago, Lila Symons, friend and fellow Cooper@Type classmate, tweeted:

 

“I just looked at the main conference schedule for and barely any women are speaking. Seriously, what’s up with that?!”

 

Her comment, quickly turned into a two-day discussion on twitter about equality in the type design world. Articles were written, diversity committees were started and people spoke up about their experiences, concerns and worries…


HERE ARE A FEW PIECES THAT CAME FROM THE DISCUSSION


Ain’t I a Type Nerd too?

by Elizabeth Carey Smith

 

Female Speakers at Conferences

by Indra Kupferschmid


Women’s Voices in Type, On-and Offstage
Part I Part II
Type Women Talk: Experiences with Sexism
Type Women Talk: Positive Forces

by Dyana Weissman


In the meantime, while my head kept spinning around this discussion, I started gathering information to set this site up, in the hopes that making it available, might make it easier for conference organizers to be more inclusive, make professionals eager to participate (more) and little by little make room for equality in the creative world.

 

It’s been quite interesting to gather numbers and the results below show that it is not only a matter of perception: inequality is (unfortunately) pervasive in the creative world.

 

Note: I believe that living and working in a diverse and balanced environment can only make our work stronger and better. While the results below worry me, they also make me proud of our accomplishments, so far. I hope you find the information below as interesting as I did, and that this moves you to take the matters into your own hands and makes you want to work for a better today (and tomorrow) in which we can all be respected for our efforts and treated as equals.

EDUCATION
WHO’S PURSUING A CREATIVE CAREER?

I thought a good starting point for this research could be looking at art schools: who’s interested in the commercial arts and in pursuing a creative career? Currently, the student body of the top United States art schools*, is heavily comprised by female students and percentages range from 50.20% to 71.20%.

Art Center, seems to be the most balanced school with 49.80%M|50.20%F ratio.

 

* In a sample of 10 art schools: Rhode Island School of Design, Savannah College of Art & Design,School of the Art Institute of Chicago,University of the Arts, Art Center College of Design, Pratt Institute, California College of the Arts, School of Visual Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art, Ringling College of Art and Design).

 

Data from from USNEWS

 

AWARDS
Who’s BEING RECOGNIZED?

After looking at school percentages, one would hope, to find a big percentage of female creatives doing a great job as professionals, after all the odds are in our favor. However, I’m surprised to find that women are not doing so great in the “awards” category and their work is not held as high.

 

A great example to look at, is the ADC Young Guns, an award that celebrates creatives under the age of 30 and where recent graduates and new professionals can shine.

Looking back at the past five years, though, I found that 78.2% of the winners have been male and only 21.8% female, and the judges panel follows a similar pattern.

I’d be really interested to know what’s the percentage of women/men applying, but unfortunately this information is not available online and the ADC wouldn’t share this data.

DATA FROM ADC YOUNG GUNS WEBSITE
JUDGES & WINNERS RATIO


Looking at a similar award in comparison, Print Magazine’s New Visual Artists show a somewhat balanced outcome within a smaller group of winners.

DATA FROM PRINT MAGAZINE’S WEBSITE, VARIOUS POSTS.

It’s also interesting to see what happens in awards that honor life’s work, such as AIGA Medal and the National Design Award. These are granted sparingly and only a few outstanding individuals have the honor of receiving it.

BOARD of DIRECTORS
LOOKING AT VARIOUS ORGANIZATIONS

When comparing the board of directors of a few organizations that honor an array of creative disciplines (AIGA, ADC) and other specialty specific organizations, like Type Directors Club and Society of Illustrators, there is an overall male dominance in board seats.

CONFERENCE SPEAKERS
LOOKING AT VARIOUS EVENTS
09.30.2016 UPDATE: It was brought to our attention that the Typographics stats listed in the first version of this article (26Male/10Female) represented the conference participants (workshops, speakers and MCs). Since then, we have adjusted this chart to reflect only the number of speakers, to give a fair overview of the event.

 

While the ratio of speakers in conferences is still uneven, I was excited to read about SaasConf, “a web conference that includes front-end developers, designers, architects, and web enthusiasts who dream of building a better web”. From last year’s submissions to this year they managed to get their speakers ratio to be 50/50 and their submissions by women went up from 5% to 28%.

 

MORE DETAILS HERE

 

This wasn’t coincidental, they actually worked hard to get there, focused on having more diversity and decided that to get there they needed to completely restructure their selection process.

 

In contrast, type design conferences are mostly men, and it hasn’t changed much in the last few decades. Sibylle Hagmann, type designer and founder of Kontour, wrote an article in 2005, titled Non-existent design: women and the creation of type where she discussed the lack of diversity in the type design world and gathers data that reflects female participation (or the lack of).

If we want a world were equality is a reality we ALL need to do more and take the first step. If you think that because it’s 2015, gender bias is not “a thing”, think again. Take time to listen to what others have experienced, read about the subject and think twice before acting.

 

The write-up above collects information, available online, from a range of sources and intends to shed light on where we stand today on the creative world.

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