The treatment of women in design I

Recently in a discussion on the Graphic Design discussion board, the topic came up about women in design. In discussing the duties of graphic designers, I brought up the fact that many female designers starting out in the industry are expected to also perform “assistant-type” duties in addition to their design duties. This is especially typical in corporations and even more so if a designer is the only designer.

Here is what I wrote in the forum post in the other thread:

Well this brings up another issue which might actually deserve it’s own topic.That issue is the hiring practices that are employed toward women in design and desktop publishing.Quite a few female designers get their start in corporations where their job is a mix of design + administrative tasks, yet male candidates are almost never expected to perform these tasks. Also, the position of “assistant” has evolved to the point that it’s almost unrcognizable from what it was when I first entered the workforce!Gone are the secretaries who took dictation, wrote shorthand and typed up memos and answered phones. Today’s “assistant” creates PowerPoint presentations, simple databases in Access, uses contact software like ACT, makes edits to the company website, emails press releases and handles any other slew of relatively complex tasks.IMO, if it weren’t for the fact that most “assistants” are women, this position would have been upgraded years ago to something far more lucrative and with a lot more prestige.Instead, corporations seek out young girls who are recent graduates and bank on their higher level of computer proficiency as well as their desire to “get their foot in the door”.

What has been created is a kind of sub-category for designers which is almost exclusively staffed with women. The non-creative “assistant” whose skills are clearly higher than that of assistants in the past and the creative sub-designer who is skilled and trained as a graphic designer but also allows the company to save money on hiring another full-time assistant by doubling in that role as well.If our industry had any real sort of leadership, like other design industries, we could really take these types of hiring practices to task and ensure that women are not treated this way. If they are hired as designers they should be paid and have the job description of a designer.What do you guys think? Anyone have thoughts or experiences on this?.chris{}


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