Putting yourself out there ain’t an easy job, especially for a woman in a man’s world! Females have strove to escape gender discrimination in the world of design, and the struggle is ongoing. However, technology has given leeway to female graphic designers to voice their visual expressions to masses.
It has undoubtedly been a long journey, since World War II, when women realized their capabilities and the idea of feminism gushed societies and industries like strong waves of the sea. Today there are digital communication channels females deploy to showcase their creativity and innovation in design to a potential of 7 billion people worldwide.
“Design is the contrast of the core of limitations therefore there are no boundaries. It is simply an interpretation of creativity”
– Jenaiha Woods
If you’re a woman with valor and originality, use technology to share your work and success may knock on your door. In Bridging The Gender Divide: How Technology Can Advance Women Economically, it is highlighted that the “most exciting transformative feature of technology” is that it allows women to advance economically. Nonetheless, female graphic designers also experience fame, acknowledgement and education or work opportunities.
Remember that you don’t need to have a degree to learn graphic design, you can be a designer yourself! But you need aesthetics, the right design tools, and an array of media to disseminate your creations.
Leverage Technology Channels
Within the realm of technology, I think radio and television aren’t platforms that widened the horizon for women in design (that much). These electronic devices, as you may expect, were overruled by male designers. When computer became a commercial commodity, and Apple brought their innovative spin to the tech platter, female graphic designers like Susan Kare made way through icon designing and other niche design fields.
“Across the twentieth century, women found opportunities to work…”
– Pat Kirkham
But this wasn’t enough. Women needed an advanced technology to express themselves. This is when the game changed! The internet struck the world with its magical powers to transfer messages in seconds to places.
In the book, Women Designers In The USA 1900-2000: Diversity And Difference, Pat Kirkham highlights that “Today, women are among the most influential designers of American books… Across the twentieth century, women found opportunities to work in the publishing world – as editors and authors as well as designers” If there’s a will, there’s a way – and those who had the will, found their way. And technology paved their ways.
Today, internet has given Herculean strength to all devices such as computers, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones to withstand the load of ‘gender inequality’, ‘discrimination’, ‘stereotypes’, and ‘disparity’. What was once barred subject to even whisper about or publish in print publications, are openly talked about over the internet using different technology gadgets.
In addition, the internet has given countless prospects to women in graphic design industry to emerge as strong individuals, learn design, share work and acknowledge other female designers, engage with a community of creatives, and be recognized via online journals and social media.
Graphic Design Education
Some institutions, such as Rhode Island School of Design, have a graphic design department concentrated with 71% women (source). Moreover, in an article 5 Groundbreaking Ways Women Changed Graphic Design on Eye On Design, AIGA’s blog, Madeleine Morley shares that 70% of graphic design students at Central Saint Martin’s are women. This percentage has increased 20% from the late 1990’s. However, there are still several educational establishments where women are either not taken seriously or are completely shoved to the side. Thus, technology is a platform female can use to garner education in design. I’m not saying that the only solution for them is to learn in isolation, but that they can use their laptop, iPad, Android or iOS to connect to a portal of innumerable resources, researches, certified courses, tutorials, and eBooks on graphic design.
Additionally, if you read books on design, you’ll know that women aren’t much talked about. However, technology has given people a chance to explore graphic design through the eyes of women like Paula Scher for instance. With technology it is easier for people to network with female designers, know their biographies, and see their portfolios.
Graphic Design Journals
Online renowned publications such as Design Taxi, Bored Panda, It’s Nice That, Eye Magazine, Fubiz are a few to mention when it comes to featuring graphic designers and their works. Nevertheless, the weightage of exposure that women graphic designers get from these websites is hard to estimate.
Thus, exclusive online podiums have been developed to only bring women designers into limelight. The list includes Women of Graphic Design which displays a visual collection of the works of talented female typographers, poster designers, brand identity developers, and photographers – from the famous ones to those who deserve recognition but only a few know about them.
Portfolio Sharing Sites
What more do women want than a place to exhibit their creativeness and inventiveness without gender being the hot topic? If you’re a female graphic designer, then by sharing your portfolio online, you can tap onto job opportunities, internships, and freelance projects.
I think design portfolio sharing websites like Dribbble, Dropr, Carbon Made and Behance are amazing places to get yourself out there. Dana Tanamachi’s portfolio shows her expertise in lettering, and if you’ve got a typographer hidden in you then don’t hesitate to reveal your talents.
As per The New Graphic Design School: A Foundation Course in Principles and Practice, online self-publishing is a quick way for “designers to get their work known through forums, blogs, community sites, or their own website”. Marshall McLuhan’s idea of a “global village” has not only become a reality but has opened doorways for female graphic designers.
You can easily start a blog or website using Google’s Blogger, Amazon’s CreateSpace or WordPress if you’re looking for faster and affordable options. I can say that these are perfect ways to maintain a portfolio and also add descriptive words about your work via write-ups, video or podcasts.
Socializing Graphic Designer
Social media is perhaps a blessing for women graphic designers to express themselves in a patriarchal industry. I wouldn’t say that all social media websites aid in developing a triumphant career in graphic design. For example, Snapchat can be limited to brands only and Google Plus isn’t a dynamic choice anymore. However there are beneficial digital spaces for female designers, including:
On the other hand, I consider YouTube to be a female graphic designer’s BFF. In a list published by HOW Design in 20 Graphic Designers to Watch On YouTube Charli Marie, Karen Kavett, Becky Kinkead, and Teela Cunningham are among the graphic designers cum Vloggers who are active on this platform and doing good in their freelance or startup business.
The trick to rock on YouTube is not by simply reading out your curriculum vitae in a monotone but by talking about your struggles, sharing tutorials revolving around your design styles, exchanging stories about your design education plus portfolio, and a lot more related and miscellaneous things.
This is unlike YouTube, as I’ve explored it. For female graphic designers, Vimeo is a place to show people what they’re made of. Graphic design is a vast field and has diverse branches ranging from 2D art to 3D and motion graphics.
Peoples’ attention span has reduced to seconds with the advent of communication technology, so you technically on an average have 2 minutes and 42 seconds to impress viewers with your work. Such limitations isn’t only for women, even men have to adhere to them if they want to make an impact.
The absolute great thing about Instagram is that nobody can ‘save as’ your work and only share it within the platform. Although there are people who take snapshots, but then this is an amazing place to flaunt your creative skills.
Becca Clason, Lauren Hom, Jessica Walsh, Jen Mussari, Margherita Urbani, and Jennet Liaw are a few women on Instagram who are truly inspiring. If you have an aesthetic sense and skills to replicate a concept into reality then this is your abode.
Also Explore: 24 Brilliant Female Graphic Designers on Tumblr
Career Opportunities for Female Graphic Designers
Women are no more constrained by print media. They can extend their design abilities to fields like web site designing, mobile application development, film animation or interactive sculptures using smart technology. As a female graphic designer, if you feel a physical office is not your cup of tea then there are other routes available for you.
In fact, many women from male dominated societies, often in the Eastern world, opt for home based options. However, this isn’t a verdict engraved on a rock. Females from other parts of the world also prefer to work independently. Jane Bowyer, from Manchester, is one such graphic designer. She specializes in branding, print, art direction and digital design.
Crowdsourcing websites allow female graphic designers to compete with male counterparts by submitting designs to projects of different companies. All you do is design, submit and wait for selection news to win your prize money.
When all odds are against you, a good path to consider is graphic design business. You can become a female graphic design entrepreneur and lead a bunch of men and women. Natalie Perkins and Ann Willoughby are among the female designers who have struggled through challenges and become influencers.
Also Explore: Successful Graphic Design Agencies Owned By Women
Technology plays a major role in spreading awareness about entrepreneurial females. They have been quoted and interviewed in television shows, documentaries, and top design blogs.
In fact, organizations like Startup Canada, Icograda, Women Venture, GROW, and UN Women for example promote women empowerment in creative fields. Due to tech, it’s fairly easy to connect with them (anywhere and whenever) by visiting their respective websites and social media accounts.
Even to this date, when technology plays a major role in every graphic designers’ life, many women feel that they’re being nagged and taunted by the invisible police of their society. We’ve come a long way, and now instead of chatting about how unfair the world is, it is time to accept the reality and move forward. Yes, there will be barriers but technology is your weapon. Use it to create, share, interact and follow your passion.
Are you using technology to get your voice heard in a man’s world? Share the tools you’re using.