US Consensus Reveals Inequalities in the Design Industry
It appears that there is increasing access to the design industry through non-traditional means. Thirty-two per cent of respondents entered the industry with a bachelor’s degree, 17% through online learning, and 12% without any formal training. However, this acceptance does not translate into greater diversity, with 71% identifying as white, 9% Asian, 8% Latinx and only 3% Black.
Gender likewise emerges as a key area for improvement, with women dominating at 61% and men at 36%. And gender is likely to guide their category of work. Women are more likely to be involved in social impact design or illustration, while men tend to work in tech-based industries, such as augmented reality, artificial intelligence or game development. It also translates into pay disparity, with women making up only 11% of leadership roles – filling up all salary brackets to $100,000 before being overtaken by their male peers.
The report pinpoints a 5% increase in the number of surveyed LGBTQ+ participants (sitting at 15%) compared to the last survey in 2017. Despite this, there is vast inequality in how these individuals are paid. The average salary of $50,000-75,000 drops to $35,000-49,000 for an LGBTQ+ designer. And for the 3% who are outside the gender binary, their average pay is less than $25,000 (although this might be due to the high proportion of LGBTQ+ individuals in the student population).
Lastly, even pre-pandemic, there appeared to be a growing sense of anxiety and discontent within the industry. Over half (56%) of designers worry about job security, triple the figure recorded in 2017. There is also a growing need for development and educational opportunities, with only 65% describing themselves as satisfied in their job (down from 82% in 2017), and 26% reporting that they’re learning very little.
To see how education and company roles are having to adapt in preparation for the dynamic future of work, see New Rules, New Roles.