WOMENFOLK IS A CELEBRATION OF female ENTREPRENEURS IN DESIGN in Northern Ireland. We seek to highlight the existing design community as well as encouraging and inspiring those thinking of starting up their own business in Design.
There has long been a disparity between the number of men and women involved in Design. The Design Council's Design Economy report in 2016 found the UK’s design workforce was 78% male, 22% female.
"Design is increasingly cross-disciplinary and agile, yet it still suffers from these 20th century hangovers."
- Chris Finnegan, The Design Council
The lack of women designers is particularly significant for senior roles, and in disciplines such as product design, engineering, and architecture.
“If we are serious about being an innovation nation, we need to start improving gender diversity in industries that will be growth areas in the years to come.”
- Libby Lyons, Workplace Gender Equality Agency
A 2017 Morgan Stanley report found that more gender diversity led to increased productivity, greater innovation, better products, better decision-making and higher employee retention and satisfaction.
The 2018 PwC report, Women in Work Index: Closing the gender pay gap, suggests government should focus on encouraging female entrepreneurship. Countries with a larger share of female employers (self-employed with employees) tend to have smaller gender pay gaps, which suggests that promoting female entrepreneurship and women in decision-making positions can help promote gender equality.
With all of this in mind, we decided to set up Womenfolk.
Womenfolk is a project close to our hearts. Blick Shared Studios is an organisation founded and run by women. We host a variety of creative industry support and networking events and generally have more women than men in the audience, but sadly don’t see that translated into female-led businesses using our workspace.
Currently just 37% of the workspace across our three properties is occupied by female-led businesses. We know women are more than capable and don’t believe they need special help, but we would like to see more women with a passion for running their own business make that dream a reality.
We have set up this project with the aim of inspiring those women who attend our events and dream of running their own business to follow the example of the many talented women design entrepreneurs currently working in NI.