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From the Newsdesk

International Women’s Day 2024

Women Empowering Women in the Design Industry

In the dynamic realm of design where creativity knows no bounds, women are making significant strides, challenging norms, and carving out spaces where their voices resonate with power and purpose. The design industry, once dominated by male figures, is witnessing a more equal balance as more women step into leadership roles, drive innovation, and champion inclusivity. In this article we delve into the inspiring narratives of women empowering women within the design industry.

Breaking Barriers

Historically, the design industry has been characterised by gender disparities, with women often facing obstacles in accessing opportunities for growth and recognition. However, the narrative is rapidly evolving as women shatter glass ceilings and dismantle stereotypes. Through sheer determination and resilience, they are redefining what it means to thrive in a traditionally male-dominated field.

Mentorship and Collaboration

Central to the empowerment of women in design is the establishment of mentorship networks and collaborative platforms. Recognising the importance of mentorship in fostering professional growth, many women leaders are actively investing their time and expertise to engaging with women-based networking initiatives within the design sector. These networking programs not only provide guidance and support but also cultivate a sense of community and solidarity among women in the industry.

Donna Bellingham, CEO of Shackletons, is a speaker of the initiative ‘Women in Furniture’, a multi-event with the aspiration to bring women together in order to inspire and create a collaborative networking community.

Donna said, “I do genuinely believe that our industry today is more inclusive and accessible. There is still room to progress more, and better reflect the consumers of our products and services. I believe in the principle of viewing every individual on their own merits and support emerging talent. It is critical for the balance and future of our industry.

I have been fortunate to have had a fantastic and varied career in the sector and would highly recommend to anyone. I feel excited about the opportunities for young, talented people coming into the Industry today. To women looking to join our sector, believe in yourself, build your contacts and your networks, and never hold back to ask for help and mentoring from those who can support”.

Donna Bellingham, CEO of Shackleton. Feature for International Women's Day 2024: Women empowering Women
Donna Bellingham

Moreover, collaboration lies at the heart of driving meaningful change. Women-led initiatives and collectives are emerging as catalysts for collaboration, offering spaces for mutual learning, skill-sharing, and collective action. By pooling their talents and resources, women in the design industry are amplifying their impact and effecting positive change within the industry.

Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords but fundamental principles that drive innovation and creativity. Women in the design industry are championing diversity in all its forms, advocating for equal representation and opportunities for underrepresented groups. By embracing diverse perspectives and experiences, they are enriching the creative landscape and challenging conventional norms.

Ayça Donaghy, CEO of The Lighting Industry Association, said, “As a woman in leadership as CEO of The Lighting Industry Association, I believe empowerment stems from creating opportunities for learning, growth, and visibility for other women. My personal vision has always been to be an influential woman in our industry to affect positive change and I’m dedicated to inspiring an environment where women support each other’s ambitions. By attracting and mentoring emerging leaders through various LIA initiatives focusing on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, I aim to demonstrate to future generations that leadership is not just about reaching the top, but about lifting others as we climb”.

Ayça Donaghy, CEO of The Lighting Association. Feature for International Women's Day 2024: Women empowering Women
Ayça Donaghy

Moreover, women designers are actively advocating for inclusive design practices that prioritise accessibility and usability for all. From designing products and spaces that accommodate diverse needs to promoting ethical and sustainable design principles, they are driving a paradigm shift towards a more inclusive and equitable future.

Empowering the Next Generation

Empowering women in the design industry is not just about achieving individual success but also about paving the way for future generations. Women designers are passionate advocates for education and mentorship, inspiring the next generation of creatives to pursue their dreams fearlessly. By sharing their stories, experiences, and insights, they are nurturing a pipeline of talent and empowering aspiring women to realise their full potential.

Dids Macdonald OBE., CEO of ACID, has a long history of being an inspiring female leader in the design industry. She realised a need for designers to have a support system in the intellectual property landscape, built an organisation from the ground up, influencing law, policy makers and other industry organisations. Dids has also employed many women over the years and guided them to empower themselves through-out their own careers.

Dids Macdonald OBE., said, Representation and relevancy are the corner stones of improving diversity and inclusion and women are increasingly adding to these conversations.  It is a no-brainer that improving age diversity will also lead to greater creativity. In the same way as addressing the gender and ethnicity imbalance will lead to a greater the variety of perspectives and life experiences. It will also provide the basis for more diverse ideas, thoughts and encouraging new and fresh thinking to enter the mix and appealing to the widest talent base possible is the key to this – more talent, wider creativity. It is our duty to ensure that the next generation is helped practically and through positive mentoring to be tomorrow’s leaders. We need to continue to walk the talk”.  

Dids Macdonald OBE. CEO of ACID. Feature for International Women's Day 2024: Women empowering Women
Dids Macdonald OBE.

Furthermore, women designers are actively engaging with educational institutions and community organisations to create pathways for entry into the design profession. Through workshops, outreach programs, and mentorship initiatives, they are democratising access to design education and ensuring that aspiring designers from all backgrounds have the opportunity to thrive. For instance, demographically, Anti Copying In Design membership is largely made up of women designers, who are empowering themselves to seek education and protect their intellectual property (IP) rights.


In conclusion, the empowerment of women in the design industry is a collective journey marked by resilience, solidarity, and progress. As women in leadership roles of organisations and designers continue to break barriers, foster collaboration, celebrate diversity, and empower the next generation, they are reshaping the landscape of design and paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable future. Together, we rise, empowered by the strength of our collective voices and the boundless possibilities of design.

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