What’s the first thing you notice about this image?
For International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting a huge issue we’ve been tackling within the industry. There’s a rather noticeable lack of women. This article takes a deeper look at the issue at hand, the statistics, and what our team at Somewhere, our partners, and our peers are doing to make a positive change.
Gender balance is off in the world of design, architectural visualisation, and the built environment.
We’ve created this featured image specifically to paint a picture that unfortunately rings true in our industry.
Across several subsections of the design world, men form the large majority, meaning that a lot of what we see lacks the perspective, experience, vision, skills, direction, creativity, and expertise of women.
Statistics from the Design Council’s 2020 report demonstrates this gender imbalance.
For example, while multidisciplinary design sees a slight female majority lead with a 59% female, 41% male split, within architecture and the built environment – just 19% are female.
Women are also the minority within the graphic design subcategory (39% female, 61% male).
And within digital design, just 15% of designers are women with the remaining 85% consisting of men.
Within the architecture and built environment sector of the design industry, the gender split is a shocking 81% male, 19% female split.
Also shining a light on this trend are our partners, Kerning The Gap – a community dedicated to getting more women into leadership roles within the design industry.
Kerning The Gap reports that although 63% of design students are women, only 17% are in leadership roles.
Unfortunately, this gender imbalance is evident at our own studio – but to be part of the solution, transparency on the matter is vital.
Last year, despite having no legal obligation to do so, Uniform Group published our Gender Pay Gap report with hopes that our openness on the matter would make other agencies follow suit.
It showed that the ratio of males to females throughout our family of businesses (which includes brand agency, Continuous) is 60% male to 40% female.
However, impacted by the lack of women within the industry overall, this figure is skewed due to our team of CG artists being made up of 100% men.
Being the change we want to see
Part of our efforts include continually redesigning, evolving, and modernising the way we work to create an environment where everyone within our industry can feel seen, supported, and happy – regardless of gender.
We’ve created new partnerships and policies to strengthen our efforts and formally build them into the foundations of how our family of businesses runs.
There’s a long way to go, but here are just some of the examples of what we’ve achieved so far:
01 – Co-founding Kerning The Gap North West
Kerning The Gap North West was set up to address the lack of women in leadership roles in design and creativity within our geographical location.
02 – Supporting our partners InnovateHer
InnovateHer gets girls ready for careers in the digital and tech industry, and the digital industry ready for girls.
03 – RemCo setup
An independent remuneration committee was established to ensure fair pay across the business and provide salary guidance to our leadership teams.
04 – Gender balanced shortlisting
We introduced gender balanced shortlists and panels for all roles.
05 – Enhanced and shared parental leave
Implemented shared parental leave and enhanced SHPP policies to support and promote a fairer workplace for parents.
06 – Flexible working
New post-pandemic working practices were implemented providing more flexibility for team members.
This working style also widens our talent pool and supports a better work life balance (most commonly cited as a reason why women struggle to progress in their careers due to childcare commitments).
07 – Menstrual health policy
Our menstrual health policy is designed to protect and support any member of the team who experiences periods.
This also includes – and will be even more beneficial for – those with menstrual conditions or related complications.
Your menstrual health should not be a barrier to your career at Somewhere and we’ll happily facilitate different ways of working to support your wellbeing during your period.
08 – Menopause policy
Menopause is not a taboo or ‘hidden’ subject at the studio.
We have an open, honest, and understanding working environment to ensure anyone experiencing the menopause feels more comfortable.
From temperature control to flexible working, our menopause policy is there to support anyone going through symptoms during their time with us.
09 – Pregnancy loss policy
We’re committed to supporting all employees who suffer the loss of a pregnancy.
Whether you’re the mother, partner, or surrogate mother, you’ll be fully supported regardless of your length of service.
This policy recognises pregnancy loss as a bereavement and one not isolated to women or heterosexual couples.
10 – Partnering with Creative Lives in Progress
Creative Lives in Progress (formerly Lecture in Progress) is an inclusive creative careers resource, on a mission to transform the way emerging talent access, understand and connect with the industry.
This is our recently promoted Middleweight Project Manager, Megan Griffiths.
Sharing her thoughts on the gender imbalance within the industry, Megan said: “It’s hard not to feel a bit of an imbalance, especially in a largely male-dominated area of our industry.
“But the policies that Uniform Group are implementing surrounding women and wellbeing are definitely a step in the right direction.
“Whether it’s ensuring access to free period products in the workplace, or continuing our commitment to working with outstanding female talent, every step (big or small) makes a difference.
“It’s super important to have colleagues at every level of the business support this cause, speak openly about the challenges we face, and take action to tackle this imbalance together.”
Our friends over at online Instagram community, @womeninarchviz, also shared their reflection on the topic with us. Sharing the story behind creating the community, Liza Ferr said:
“When I started joining social media groups and started reading forums in the Archviz area, I realised that women were in the minority.
“Then I saw the market statistics and felt the need to give women greater visibility.
“We have excellent women in the market and I believe it's important to highlight them.
“Not only to give visibility to those who have been in the industry for years, but also to those who are just starting out.
“I wanted to support all Archviz women around the world without distinction.”
To continue the conversation at Somewhere, we also host women’s wellbeing lunches at the studio where all are invited to join the conversation, share their experiences, listen, and learn.
There’s still a lot more to be done but thankfully we’re not alone on our mission.
We’re joining the trailblazers that are paving the way towards industry-wide diversity and inclusivity.
In a recent post, we announced our collaboration with MADI (Master Architettura Digitale MADI) – a second-level master course in Digital Architecture held from IUAV University in Venice, Italy.
We’ll be helping them with this year’s internship competition which will see one of their students win a placement at our studio.
MADI has achieved an approximate 50-50% male to female split among its students within the past four to five years.
Its Art Director, Lisa Della Dora, has noticed positive change with the industry throughout her career:
“Once I landed my first job, there was only one girl working as a 3D artist, among 20ish 3D artists me and her were the only women. And that actually pushed me, I have always been really competitive, especially against ’boys‘, since a really young age I have always been challenging guys and wanting to do the same thing they did.
“So yes, in this field as well, the lack of representation pushed me even more to do better. But things changed a lot in the last few years, I saw it in our office and at University, in both we have naturally reached a 50-50 representation of both genders, which is amazing compared to how things were when I started.”
A big shout out to our partners and other inspiring organisations who are doing amazing work to spread awareness and support women – and other minorities – in the design industry.
If you visit their websites, you’ll find tons of inspiring stories, practical information, and plenty of other resources too:
OPEN VACANCIES AT SOMEWHERE
We’re always on the look out for talented 3D artists who bring something different to the table. If you’d like to join our team, click here to submit your application form and portfolio or email [email protected]