Anonymity: measuring the visibility of women in design awards

Jane Connory (Monash University)
2017 Conference

This article measures and evaluates the visibility of women in Australian graphic design, through their presence and experiences in the AGDA (Australian Graphic Design Association) Awards. Positioning gender equity as a critical value in the graphic design industry, it also establishes the AGDA Awards as an integral way for designers to gain this visibility as authors of their work. This paper hypothesises that women have low visibility, in comparison to men, and that actions can be taken to remedy this gendered anonymity. Through collating the gender of every winner and juror in the AGDA Awards, this research demonstrates that levels of gender equity in the industry can be evaluated objectively. Similarly, it shows that identifying issues impacting the visibility of women on award platforms, felt by women in established design careers, can provide insights that lead to improving gender equity in the industry. Building on methodologies inspired by Marie Neurath’s contribution to the ‘Isotype Transformer’ process, this research analyzes, selects, orders and makes visible the AGDA Award data set. The findings that surface during this process, conclusively show that women are – on average and consistently – only 25 per cent of winners and judges in the AGDA Awards. However, through an evaluation of these shortfalls alongside the inclusion of interviews with women, deemed significant contributors to Australian graphic design by their peers, findings show how equitable visibility can be achieved through a series of measured and purposeful initiatives.

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About the author

Jane Connory is a PhD candidate at Monash University, Art, Design and Architecture, working towards a gender inclusive history of Australian graphic design. She was awarded a Masters of Communication Design (Design Management) with Distinction from RMIT in 2016 and has been a practising designer in the advertising, branding and publishing sectors, in both London and Melbourne, since 1997. She has also lectured in and managed communication design programs in both the VET and Higher Education sectors since 2005. Alongside her research exploring the visibility of women in design, she is currently a the National Head of Communications at the Design Institute of Australian, a radio presenter on JOY94.9 and an active participant in the Creative Women’s Circle, Illustrators Australia and the Australian Graphic Design Association.