Why we need more women at the top

A picture of me from 2014

I want to start this article off with a statistic that one of my graphic design idols, Jessica Walsh, shared on Instagram upon launching her creative agency &Walsh.

“The numbers say it all: 70 percent of design students are women, but only five to 11 percent of creative director positions are held by women. Only 0.1% of creative agencies are women-owned. POINT. ONE. PERCENT. How does this make any sense when women drive about 80% of consumer purchasing?”

I have been fortunate enough to work for two all-female run companies: BUST Magazine and Spark no. 9. BUST Magazine is a feminist magazine, founded in 1993 by Debbie Stoller, Laurie Henzel, and Marcelle Karp, with the tag-line: “For women with something to get off their chest.” And Spark no. 9 is a female-run management consulting company that “helps design and launch businesses people love. [They deliver] a new kind of strategy — the kind that is road-tested and instantly actionable.” (https://www.linkedin.com/company/spark-no-9-llc/about/)

It was incredibly empowering for me as a young woman trying to launch herself into the workforce to hold internships at these two offices. Every day I walked in and saw women just killing the game. I thought about this as I handed Laurie Henzel (BUST Magazine) her mail and then scurried back to my desk or when I watched Heather Myers (Spark no. 9) preparing for a big pitch.

At BUST Magazine, I was an editorial intern, so yes while mail duties were sometimes on the table, I also had the privilege to blog for the magazine. I had just turned 21 at the time and was not confident in my skills in general, let alone my ability to write coherent sentences that people would actually want to read. And yet they had hired me. And it was like a whole new world opened up. I want to say that I was an avid BUST magazine reader and ROOKIE magazine reader prior to this position, but I was not. I actually bought my first BUST magazine in Grand Central the week before starting. But dang it was like finding a long-lost friend.

I am writing this article because I believe I was very lucky and that these experiences so early in one’s career are not the norm; but perhaps and hopefully are becoming more and more possible for young women and even young men to be exposed to.

This article was prompted by the fact that I just graduated from the Grace Hopper Program at Fullstack Academy, a programming bootcamp for female and non-binary individuals that offers a deferred tuition model. Was the fact that this program meant that I would not have to pay the fee for the whole course upfront a big factor in my decision to attend? I would be lying if I said no. However, the thought of being in a course with solely women and non-binary individuals seemed like an alien thought. Wait we are going to be a group all together lifting each other up in the STEM field? Even though I had just worked in two female driven workplaces, I felt like I had landed in an foreign yet amazing alternate universe.

Since my graduation is so fresh… it is hard to encapsulate the whole program into a few sentences or a paragraph even. So just believe me when I say that it was truly life changing.

To come full circle, I hope the statistic that Jessica Walsh shared is changing… I know that the women I worked for and all the women I graduated from Grace Hopper with are game-changers… and I foresee a brighter future.

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Software Engineer. http://clairefilipek.com

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Claire Filipek

Claire Filipek

Software Engineer. http://clairefilipek.com

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