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Women in Design: An Honest Conversation with 3 Female Designers for International Women’s Day

The design industry is not as notorious as the tech industry in terms of male domination. Still, gender issues prevail in design — from susceptibility to the gender wage gap, imbalanced gender representation, unequal career advancement and opportunities, and more. However, at Chykalophia, we are proud to play our part in supporting women in design.

As a WBENC-certified, woman-owned business trying to break the barrier for women in the design industry, women’s perspectives contribute a lot to the diversity of our team. In the height of International Women’s Day this year, this article is a tribute to the female designers of Chykalophia.

Sharing their stories and insights here are Ari, CEO of Chykalophia; Keira (pseudo name), Associate UI/UX and Digital Designer; and Devon, Junior UI/UX Designer.

Supporting women in design and women-owned businesses

At the beginning of her entrepreneurial journey, Ari experienced first-hand the significance of support and mentorship from fellow women entrepreneurs, especially because she had no established network in the Chicago area. For this reason, she made it her and Chykalophia’s mission to give back to women by helping them solve their business problems — from the brand, user experience, and marketing perspectives.

“As for us targeting primarily women-led brands, my career and business wouldn’t be here if I didn’t receive support and mentorship from other women entrepreneurs. It’s not only a way for me to give back but to also help us lead by example for future women founders.”

Ari, CEO of Chykalophia

For Keira, the mission to promote gender equality and women-owned businesses is truly admirable, contributing to an inclusive business ecosystem through design. “I think Chykalophia’s goal to support women-owned businesses is commendable and aligns with the broader efforts to promote gender equality and empower women in the workplace.”

“By providing resources, expertise, and opportunities for women entrepreneurs, Chykalophia not only contributes to their success but also fosters a more inclusive and diverse business ecosystem,” she adds.

Devon, who recently joined the company, believes that Chykalophia’s goal to help women-owned brands flourish is the main intriguing reason that piqued her interest in joining the company, for she wants to use design to create sustainable social impact.

Fostering gender equality in the workplace

Further into our conversation, our female designers share their experiences regarding gender equality in the workplace.

Both Keira and Devon mention that their time at Chykalophia has been largely positive. On top of the flexible work arrangements that allow them to balance their professional and personal commitments, they’re also happy with their career growth and the diverse projects they work on, enhancing their design skills and expanding their portfolios.

Despite these bright times, Keira and Devon had seen darker days in the past. For instance, Keira mentions her personal experiences in previous roles and within the industry at large — how women in design, including her, are still dealing with the ever-existing gender bias, continuous lack of female representation at higher levels, and occasional microaggression.

Similarly, Devon shares her internship experiences where she had the opportunity to collaborate with a number of mentors. “As grateful as I am for the opportunity to learn from them, some of the male mentors tried to mansplain me about women’s experiences surrounding sexual violence in public urban areas.”

“They would say things like, ‘Oh, maybe that’s just you,’ or ‘That’s not the reality in Japan, though,'” she adds. “My statements were invalidated with zero evidence, even though I came in from a sociological background bringing actual statistical data.”

Both Keira and Devon are glad they don’t have to deal with such things at Chykalophia. Sexist prejudice has no place here, everybody always listens to anybody who voices their opinions, and the company’s efforts at promoting diversity and inclusion can help address these issues.

Our hopes for women in design

Even though design as an industry is still in a constant battle with gender issues, our female designers envision a future where women will acquire more seats at the significant table. For instance, Ari states how she hopes to see women’s contributions in design as recognized and celebrated as men’s contributions.

“My hope for women in the design industry is that we will continue to break barriers and assume leadership roles, shaping the future of design with our unique perspectives and creativity,” says Ari. “I envision a future where gender parity is achieved, and women’s contributions are equally recognized and celebrated. I hope for an industry that actively mentors and supports young female designers, providing them with the resources, opportunities, and confidence to excel.”

Furthermore, Keira mentions her wish to witness more representation, recognition, and opportunities for women in design. “Looking ahead, I envision a future where we women feel empowered to pursue our passions and aspirations without barriers or biases. By continuing to advocate for gender equality, mentorship programs, and supportive policies, we can create a more equitable and inclusive industry for future generations of female designers and technologists.”

Lastly, Devon dreams of a future where women can advance in their careers without sacrificing their personal lives. “The number of married women and childbirth keep declining because society forces us to take care of the children and home, an undervalued and unpaid activity we call care work. I believe we can combat the stereotype of gender roles in marriage and family. Care work should not be a burden dumped exclusively on women.”

In light of International Women’s Day, we invite you to critically examine and highlight women’s experiences and contributions to design. Let’s promote greater representation at higher levels and more diverse perspectives during discussions, so we will all appreciate each other based on the values we bring to the table, regardless of gender.

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