Yes! Women Lead Community Forum

Emily Hubbard

American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), a non-profit organization focused on the development of design professionals and creative voices, has come to San Antonio with a new initiative.

The international organization houses over 66 chapters, 200 student organizations and more than 22,000 design professionals. Focused on growing and enhancing the creative minds of their members, AIGA put on a “Yes! Women Lead Community Forum” on Thursday March 29, which is part of their Women Lead Initiative.

This was their first event of the series, which focuses on group ideation, brainstorming and group activities to identify challenges in San Antonio facing women in the creative field. The group is open to not only designers, but also photographers, social media strategists and other creatives. Another important factor to clear up is that AIGA is not just for women. AIGA’s mission is to bring everyone together and help them learn to work with one another and hear others’ voices on the issues at hand.

“You can only get there together, and that is what the community forum is about. How do you handle interruption? How do you handle standing up for yourself? How do you handle pay? These are the things that come up all the time for women in many industries, but more specifically design,” Rachel Davis, the organizer for the event, said.

It is not about subjecting women to a higher standard, but creating a level playing field in the industry where women and men feel comfortable and confident. It is important, with the feminist movement on the rise, that we as women take this opportunity to make a real change to the business realm of the industry.

“We need to be forceful in a way that it brings it to the table. Educating people and bringing people into the discussion is the only way to fix this. Not just talking at them, but talking with them,” Davis said.

After hearing from the community about the struggles of the San Antonio people specifically, AIGA will work together and create panels, workshops, speaker events to help guide and encourage the creative community of San Antonio. It is up to the community to participate and voice their opinions and personal struggles for the improvement to be made. San Antonio is home to thousands of creatives that deserve to be heard and recognized by not only just the San Antonio community but also the world at large. AIGA’s San Antonio chapter aims to help creatives like you and me to create reform.

The forum came to the conclusion that many creatives struggle with confidence, networking and office relationships. After having identified the key concerns, the group worked together to come up with solutions that we as a community could make a reality. Some of the solutions consisted of networking events, Facebook groups, speakers, events for constructive criticism (no bashing!) and mentorship programs.

Not only will the chapter help reveal the creative community around us, but it will also help us connect with them and build relationships. These relationships can lead to professional opportunities such as jobs or internships but also help build friendships with like-minded individuals.