AIGA Launches Movement To Boost Female Leadership In The Design World

Design trade organization AIGA has kicked off an effort called “Double or Nothing” — the goal is to double the number of women leaders in the design world. 

As with most industries, women are underrepresented in leadership roles in the design field. According to AIGA’s estimate, female design leadership ranges from 4% to 11% — the numbers vary by survey and business sector. But any way you slice it, those numbers are low, especially in light of the fact that over half (53.5%) of all designers are women.   

It sounds like this Double of Nothing effort is not dissimilar from the 3% Movement that was founded a few years back to boost leadership in the creative agency world. The 3% figure was the percentage of female creative directors in the ad industry at the time the movement was founded.

I recently read that that figure has grown to 11% or something like that. 



Which is Effing awesome! I mean that’s fairly significant progress, right? More work needs to be done for sure. 

So kudos to AIGA for taking steps to boost female leadership in the design field. Because that number isn’t going to grow by itself.   

The effort is being spearheaded by AIGA’s Women Lead Initiative and a coalition of top industry pros from Blue State Digital, Decker Design, IBM, Lippincott, Pentagram and Quartz. 

“Once in the workplace, particularly after five to 10 years, there is a lack of mentorship, celebration of female work, support for mothers, and equal pay,” said Lynda Decker of Decker Design and co-chair Women Lead Committee, AIGA. “At this state of their career, women often do not feel empowered to negotiate pay and the position they deserve or are reluctant to ask for guidance. We want that to end.” 

“This is not just a campaign — it’s a movement to promote continuous and much-needed progress,” added Heather Stern of Lippincott and co-chair Women Lead Committee, AIGA. “‘Double or Nothing’ alludes to the ‘duos’ required to achieve our goal: pay and promotion, men and women, design and business, aspiring leaders and those who want to support them.” 

WPP’s Blue State Digital, a lead partner, built a website for the movement that launched this month (Women’s History Month don’t forget). It’s a work in progress that, the organizers say, will continually expand and evolve with resources such as a corporate pledge for gender equity, practical toolkits, career advice and insights, and inspiring stories about female designers who are breaking boundaries in their field. 

As part of the Double or Nothing initiative, AIGA national partner IBM will help develop a series of commitments and best practices for companies to adopt in order to accelerate progress for female designers. 

AIGA is also partnering with Quartz’s How We’ll Win project, a year-long exploration of the fight for gender equality. 

AIGA executive director Julie Anixter said: “Our pledge is to continue to champion women's leadership, as well as women and men who support diversity and inclusion. Double of Nothing is a great example of not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.” 

I hope that’s right. Let’s see what the numbers look like a few years down the road.



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