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With International Women’s Day coming up and our first Concept North Event of the year ‘Is it still a Man’s World?’ happening in 3 weeks time, we’re opening the conversation up around what the biggest hurdles are for both men and women in design and property, and how we can begin to solve them.

Traditionally, women have been known to pave the way in interior design; what with the first ever interior designer being Elsie De Wolfe, and since we’ve seen lots of well-known names such as Kelly Wearstler and Victoria Hagan continue to fly the flag for successful women in design. But does that really make design one of the most female-friendly industries out there?

Let us tell you something… in 2015, 78% of the design economy was male, compared to 53% across the whole working economy. We bet you weren’t expecting that?! But how does this affect our everyday working lives as designers? From not only our experience, but from those of the people within the Concept North community, one thing that is apparent is that one of the greatest issues facing female designers is the lack of having their voices heard - whether that be with tradesmen, consultants and even clients (yep, this one confuses us too). But do male designers face this struggle too? Is this a gender issue or just an issue within the design industry as a whole?

Another interesting fact: the majority of design graduates are women, but only 11% of design business leaders are women. There is a severe lack of female designers above design director level. This suggests there are still to this day glass ceilings within female career progression. What happens when women get to that level? It’s important for leading female designers to put themselves at the forefront and to be seen in the industry. Remember, it’s not only women that can help address this. Men have a role too! Men have great power in influencing others to help women get the opportunities and support they need to flourish and be seen.

OK, so we’ve spoken about the design industry but what about property? Real estate has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, however the growing focus on gender balance initiatives in recent years are starting to have an impact. Recent studies have found that gender diversity within a business results in better business performance, higher ROI, greater sales growth and less debt. Last year was the first year of compulsory gender pay gap disclosures for large UK companies, driving real estate businesses to confront any imbalance in their workplaces. Where the average gender pay gap across UK industries stands at 14 percent, the pay gap in real estate is over double at 30 percent, proving that traditional, male-dominated “partnership culture” is still very much a thing.

All being said, whilst we all at Concept North believe this is something that needs to be spoken about, we’re not here on some feminist rant and we’re strong believers that equality and balance isn’t just about women. Gender equality is about trying to break down gender stereotypes for both men and women to put people on an equal footing and we want to hear male perspective on this topic too! We’re so excited to discuss this in more depth with our guest panel of professionals at our event in Chester on the 27th February 2020 and we urge both men AND women to come along and get involved. Purchase your tickets here and we'll see you there!

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