Mentoring scheme devised to increase representation of women in design

Kerning the Gap, an organisation set up to address “serious equality issues” in design, is collaborating on a mentoring scheme to help women to progress in their careers.

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A new mentoring scheme aimed at women in the design industry has launched with the aim of helping them “push through” to the next stages of their careers.

The scheme is aimed at women at any stage in their career and is a joint initiative between the Kerning the Gap organisation run by Good managing director, Nat Maher, along with mentoring organisation, Conversation Space.

Conversation Space supports a Design Business Association devised business mentoring programme called Twenty Twenty, which has been adapted for the new scheme aimed at women in design.

Women are woefully underrepresented in senior roles

Maher says “the representation of women at senior levels within the design industry is woefully behind other business sectors.”

Moreover, she warns that the design industry is facing “a serious equality issue”, as although “70% of graphic design students are women, only 11% are creative directors.”

It is with this in mind, that Maher set up Kerning the Gap – “frankly, to do something about it,” she says.

Helping women reach their potential

“This mentoring initiative is our first step on that path – we know that by connecting experienced mentors with motivated mentees, we can begin a process of helping women reach their potential within the design industry,” adds Maher.

Mentor and Pancentric digital director, Kate Greenstock says if the initiative had existed earlier in her career she would have “bitten off their hands for a place”.

For Greenstock, the fact the scheme exists is comforting “because it acknowledges the challenges that women face in the industry and offers a platform for us to join forces and navigate them together”.

Like others, Greenstock will be offering support and sharing experiences in her role as a mentor. “I’ll be part of something, which is dedicated to helping build confidence among talented women. Let me at it,” she says.

Enhancing development

Meanwhile Conversation Space developer, Jo Gray, says that the organisation has worked in the field of mentoring for many years and has learnt that it can be “a powerful tool in enhancing the development and progression of women”.

Gray says that her team will offer support so that both mentors and mentees “will reap the benefits and build strong relationships, but also have fun along the way”.

Around 40 mentors and mentees have already signed up from across the industry, including in-house brand side and consultancy-based designers.

The scheme will be launched on 7 November with a speed matching “Meet the Mentors” event at the London College of Fashion. Anyone looking to sign up as either a mentor or mentee, can do so here.

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