Why Are Women Still Behind in the Design World?

It’s 2020, but women designers still face lower pay and less opportunity. What gives?

Olivia Brown


Illustrations: Olivia Brown

EEqual pay. Equal representation. Equal opportunity. If you think these are givens of the professional design world — think again. In some ways, design in 2020 is still in the dark ages. We spoke with top female creative directors to find out just how dark it is.

Fifty-three percent of all graphic designers are women, but only 11% of creative directors are women. We know what you’re thinking: That’s it? 11%? You’re joking. But it’s true. It’s perfectly plausible that a female graphic designer might never work under a female creative director. In fact, 70% of young female creatives say they have never worked under a female creative director.

But does it really matter if your CD is male or female? After all, your boss might never be your favorite person in the world, so does it make a difference if they look like you?

It does. Women in graphic design who have worked for women — like Abbey Kuster-Prokell, creative director at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and Claire Fraze, senior…