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.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor's report on entrepreneurial activity in the UK, Northern Ireland has the lowest percentage of female entrepreneurs when compared with England, Scotland and Wales.
“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
Encouraging more female start-ups is a key way of encouraging more women to lead companies in senior roles and is supported by a report released by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, entitled Women’s Work, Men’s Work. A report by The Guardian discussed the fact that companies led by women or that support diversity within their senior roles are more effectively innovative and creative and can bring around three times higher returns than those without women.
With all of this in mind, we decided to set up Womenfolk.
Womenfolk is a project we have developed, as Blick Shared Studios is an organisation founded and run by women. We run a lot of creative industry support and networking events and generally have more women than men in the audience, but don't see that translated into female-led businesses using our workspace. Currently just 24% of the workspace across our four 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. So 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.
Throughout March, we will be celebrating one woman design entrepreneur each day and we hope to carry the project on beyond March.