Paving the way for women in design

GBC School of Design hosts panel discussion to address issues facing women within the industry

Despite a rise in the number of women who are pursuing careers in the field of design, there is still a massive gender gap to fill in the leadership positions within the industry.

This is according to Elise Hodson, the chair of the school of design of George Brown College (GBC), who is calling the implementation of initiatives to ensure women are given a fair shot at jobs historically dominated by men.

As such, the school hosted its first ever Women in Design panel discussion, aimed at addressing the issues faced by women, paving the way for female designers to succeed within the field.

”If you look at the canon of design history, there is a lot of white men in there but now the story is breaking open and people are really paying attention to diversity,” said Hodson.

Studies conducted by the Association of Register Graphic Designers (RGD) in Canada show that 60 per cent of design businesses are owned by women and 61 per cent of creative management posts are occupied by female designers.

However, when it comes to the top job in the game, only 39 per cent of design directors throughout the country are women.

“These statistics show that in management positions, there is still far fewer women. So that is what different organizations are trying to address and what we want to talk about as there is still this big gap as to who holds the positions of power,” the school chair added.

Hodson indicated that GBC records a promising rate of women enrolled in the main design programs offered through the school of design.

65 per cent of students currently pursuing the graphic design program are women, while for art and design foundation, the total amounts to 54 per cent.

However, the interaction design program currently consists of 48 per cent women while game design holds the most alarming numbers, with only 26 per cent of the students being female.

“I think that it is growing in game but the numbers are still small, it is still a very male-dominated field but there is more and more incentives for girls in game,” Hodson explained.

The organizers of Women in Design carefully handpicked their panelists, with a lineup who can best speak to the challenges still existing within the industry.

However, for interaction design student and organizer of this event, Adrianna Leblanc, her experience as a women in design has been a welcoming one.

“I haven’t been exposed to a situation where I wasn’t chosen for something because I am a woman, which I think is amazing,” said Leblanc.

“I’ve watched a lot of these panels with women who have more experience in the industry and they’ve experience not getting the job that they wanted or not being heard or listened to,” she however added.

It is their hope that with initiatives such as Women in Design, female creatives will be afforded a just opportunity to practice their talent and grow within their profession.

The Women in Design panel discussion was held on Thursday Oct. 11  at St. James campus and was attended by over 100 female designers.

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Paving the way for women in design