Celebrating “The Boss”

This Google doodle for International Women’s Day shows how women around the globe are being celebrated all month long for Women’s History Month. There are also a number of efforts underway to not only celebrate women, but to empower them.

In the U.S. the design community is on par statistically with other industry sectors in terms of women in leadership positions. Unfortunately, these numbers are not very high with only 18% of design leadership positions held by women. In her article for Communication Arts, “Designing Women: Mothers of the Earth unite,” DK Holland writes about why women are not well represented in leadership roles in the creative profession. Holland asserts that women are shaped by cultural norms that make them strive for harmony and sublimate their own needs for the greater good. Cheryl Heller, AIGA medalist and founder of the School of Visual Art’s Design for Social Innovation MFA program, says, “Women are good at relationships and seeing the world from perspectives other than their own. These are critical skills, and now we have to figure out how to maintain them while introducing the kind of disruption that leads to a healthier reality.”

Equality for women also manifests itself in how women are featured in design history books. The blog Women of Graphic Design is dedicated to exhibiting design work by women in graphic design. It was started by Tori Hinn at the Rhode Island School of Design when it was discovered that despite the fact that 71% of the Graphic Design department were women, only 6% of the designers students were learning about were women. The blog showcases some of the best work in graphic design in the world that has been created by women.

See Jane is an organization founded by actress Geena Davis with a mission to change how women are portrayed in the media. Their research shows that in family programming there is only one female character for every three male characters; in group scenes only 17% of characters are female. The Institute is working hard to create gender balance, reduce stereotypes, and create female characters starting with entertainment that targets children 11 and under. Their goal is to become a blueprint for a gender-balanced media landscape. The effort is succinctly summed up with their tagline, “If she can see it, she can be it.”

The Representation Project is another effort that uses film and media to expose the injustices created by gender stereotypes. The film Miss Representation pulls back the curtain on how mainstream media contributes to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence.

The Ban Bossy campaign founded by Lean In and The Girls Scouts is aimed at changing the perception of women as being bossy. The campaign aims to change the negative connotation of bossy, to one of empowerment, where women are admired and revered for their leadership skills. Beyonce delivers the message perfectly in the newly released PSA for the campaign, where she proudly declares she’s not bossy, she IS “The Boss.”

Girl Rising is a global campaign for girls’ education and also the title of the documentary film produced by the organization. Around the world millions of girls are met with barriers to education that boys do not face. The Girl Rising campaign asserts that educated girls are able to stand up for their rights, and subsequently grow up and educate their children, families, and communities. Educated girls will not only transform their own lives, but societies as well.

In addition to changing perceptions of women in leadership roles and how they are portrayed in the media, we need to change how they are valued economically. The AAUW report, “The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (2014),” states that in the United States women were paid 77 percent of what men were paid. The gap exists in nearly every occupation, grows with age, and is worse for women of color. The gap persists outside of the U.S. and is worse in some countries. The Times of India reported in 2013 that the pay gap for women ranges from 25% to 44%.

What have you see this month that celebrates women? Share it with your both your sons and daughters. Celebrate women—and empower them.


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