Ladies, Wine & Design / Creative Women Unite
BY DANIELLE WILLIAMS /
CHIEF DESIGN OFFICER
Jessica Walsh started a Ladies, Wine & Design group in New York to empower women in the design industry. She realized that there was only a small number of women leading creative agencies. Her goal was to get women together across the nation to talk design and to inspire each other.
This week I went to my first Ladies, Wine & Design event in Kansas City. I think most of us feel the same way about creative/industry get-togethers: a mix of excitement to be surrounded by inspiring people who you relate to and feeling like the new kid in class. When you walk into the room there is that moment of decision where you just know in your gut how the event will go. Ladies, Wine & Design was a great gut decision.
Throughout the salon style evening we chatted about each other's roles in the creative field and other personal realizations about being a woman in the workplace. There were twelve ladies that ranged from strategy to graphic design to user experience to letterpress! Even though our experiences ran the gamut, three big questions surfaced for all of us:
How do we empower other women? How do we stay inspired? And how do we overcome the difficulties of being a lady in the work environment?
As a woman in the United States, it is an interesting time. Most Millennial women have grown up idolizing the strong women in their lives (shout out to my mom, the strongest lady out there) and being told that they can have it all. This has led us to believing we can and trying to have the preverbal all! That's an amazing feeling. But it also comes with some questions we are all working to solve in one way or another. Here is what we came up with for now.
We tell them that they are doing well. It sounds simple but after talking to each other about how it's great to get positive feedback from clients about our work, but the most empowering feeling comes from when our peers, men and women alike, take the time and say "hey, you did a great job on that presentation" or "I like that insight you came up with." Those moments when someone recognizes that you are working your ass off truly powers us to keep going and share with others. Try it everyone, instead of just thinking about saying something nice, actually do it.
This is something that I think most people feel in general. That need to have something just outside your normal job that keeps you excited and motivated to live a fulfilling life. For creatives, inspiration is like our life blood. So how do we get it? The general consensus was to have a passion project. Pick a topic that you are really interested in and make something that is outside your daily grind. For me, this is my Blue Jackets Data Visualization Series. I love our Columbus hockey team, so I put a time limit and goal to make a little data visualization for every game of the 2016/17 season and post it before the next game starts. By setting the perimeters up this way I don't just fall off the bandwagon and can constantly look back and say "wow, I've made X pieces of design about something I love. And made me to do this." That is inspiring, and I challenge you to find and stick to your own passion project!
There is no point whining about the fact that women just get treated differently in the workplace. If you are a women, you get it. If you aren't, it might slip by you. Some of the difficulties we discussed as a group were: not having men ask/value our opinion when there are other men around to consult with; having to always work hard to just be seen as competent when our male counterparts are rewarded for being silly or buddy-buddy with clients; and receiving feedback focussed on pushing us down instead of recognizing the good to build us up.
Now the question is how do we deal with these issues? As unfortunate as it is, you can't always just go up to a man and say "I am killing it, please treat me with more respect." Especially when this man happens to be your superior and 20 years older. But what we can do is a combination of being as strong as you can be to lay a foundation for other women who come behind you, standing up for your fellow ladies, and having those difficult conversations with men when you can. Sometimes it comes down to the fact that they just didn't realize what they were doing because that's what it's always been like. These people understand and will treat you better in the future. And sometimes these men just don't care. This really is not okay, but it happens. So unfortunately if you are stuck in this situation you have the choice to just deal with it and hopefully you don't have to interact with this person very often. Or you take life by the horns and find a new situation that makes you happier, more productive, and more empowered.
So ladies and men alike, let's try to empower each other, stay inspired, and stay respectful. It just makes life better.
I would suggest attending a Ladies, Wine & Design event if you can. It is great talking to other creative women and having positive conversations that lead to action. As an alternative to LWD, your city might already have their own local girl group already up and rocking! I know in Columbus, Ohio Creative Babes is doing some absolutely amazing things (check them out now!) So this just goes to show you that women, you are not alone and you can make waves.