Designer working

Is unconscious bias all B***S***T?

Definition: Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that we form outside our conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from our tendency to organise social worlds by categorising.

I find it bloody hard to identify and stop myself from doing it. I have a very intelligent, articulate female business (and life) partner and so I am constantly stopping to think about gender bias. However there are many other areas that this bias happens; age, race, gender identity, physical abilities, religion, sexual orientation, weight, etc.

Gender bias

Two things happened recently that conclusively show that us blokes have a real problem with gender bias.

The first was an article I read online at Which-50 media. The article is entitled No Man’s Land. It’s a great read. In short it says:

For the month of July, we secretly erased men from Which-50. Our audience numbers dropped, our social presence evaporated, and we annoyed people who for years have helped us build our brand off the back of their hard work and expertise. They did nothing wrong — we were just jerks — but that’s discrimination for you. Worst of all, as you will see at the end of the story, we still couldn’t balance the ledger — even when we stitched the men’s mouths shut.

This is a clear indication that men in our industry have an unconscious bias against women. This is further borne out by the stats from and Adnews article that shows

At C-suite level (Chair/CEO/MD), men take up 84% of positions compared to 16% for women. This improves at the next level down (senior executive) where the divide is 60% men and 40% women.

Worryingly, and unsurprisingly, key creative and design roles are dominated by men 71% to 29%. The reports said that the addition of design to this category helps masks the paucity of women in creative practitioner roles.

Women dominate support functions (HR/Finance/Admin) 71% to 29%, as well as creative support services (57% to 43%) and account management (64% to 36%).

Free start-up mentoring

The second example was when Carol Mackay launched her initiative to help women in design start-ups.

Carol has written and produced a studio management program that helps studio owners, managers and wannabe business owners get the fundamentals right.

Carol launched this in our weekly EDM. She also added a piece about Womentor which provides business and career development to creative directors and senior designers wanting to advance to positions of creative directorship.

So the whole EDM was about women.

Our open rate dropped by 50%!

I am certain there are male colleagues and studio owners out there who know women who have recently started a design business. Likewise I am sure they employ women who would relish the mentoring they can get from some of industries leading women.

Let’s show that we can overcome gender bias.


Got a question? Want to share your point of view? Please feel free to email me.

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