Would you agree that very few women rise to the top of creative teams in design? If so, why do you think that is?
‘I suppose there are fewer senior women designers of my generation than there are men. I think it’s simply because women choose to raise their families. But, as in all business life today, there are more women aged between 30 and 40, and more still in their 20s – we have many terrific women designers here. I think in ten years time, the male/ female ratio will have evened out.’
Frances Newell, Creative Advisor, Interbrand Newell and Sorrell
‘For many of us, life is juggling between two imperatives, each of which demands all of our time. In a challenging work world that demands long hours and 100 per cent commitment, there have to be trade-offs. These are seen as shortcomings in a work environment established by men in the Industrial Revolution, yet many women “import” housekeeping and parenting skills to the workplace and in doing so add value to what they do. Not everyone can juggle with lots of multicoloured balls. For some, table tennis, with one white ball, is enough. I prefer to juggle – even if I drop the odd ball.’
Keren House, Creative Director, Siebert Head
‘I was a product design guinea pig: one of seven girls taken on to the Industrial Design course at Newcastle in the hope that we would reach the end of the course. Four of us did but only one works as a designer. Maybe it’s a ratio problem but at the end of the day, you have to hire the best “man” for the job.’
Deborah Dawton, director, design events
‘Yes – and for lots of reasons. One man that I asked said it was because women were too sensible to believe in all that design shit.
I do think that somehow boys fit the obsessive design geek mould more than girls do, which can work against women in a traditional design environment, run by men who recognise and reward this single quality. Sonia Lamba, a maverick creative director at the Attik, is part of a whole new generation of designers who have made it through the system. There is a different attitude coming through: it’s about doing what you want to do, and in your own way. Skirt and Alexander Boxhill are two such companies to watch.’
Valerie Wickes, Creative Director, Instinct