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Gender and Diversity Protesters Demand Design Award Action

PRESS RELEASE – {20 September 2018}

Gender and Diversity Protesters Demand Action at Best Design Awards Night

What : Action 40/3 protest the gender imbalance and diversity gap at the 2018 Best Design Awards, hosted by the Designers Institute of New Zealand, and represented by the design industry.

Who : Designers Speak (Up) in partnership with Auckland Feminist Action

When : Saturday 22nd September, 6.15pm

Where : ANZ Viaduct Events Centre, outside the 2018 Best Design Awards event 161 Halsey Street

Media : Media are invited to attend the protest. Please contact the organisers for more details.

Each year the Designers Institute of New Zealand (DINZ) awards two Black Pins, its supreme award. For the past two decades, 43 Black Pins have been awarded: 40 to men and 3 to women.

This unfortunate statistic compelled New Zealand designer, typographer and artist Catherine Griffiths to design three protest posters from statistics presented on the Best Design Awards website.

She says that New Zealand’s design community is “thriving, diverse and innovative”. Yet, looking at the history of the Best Design Awards, you get the impression that New Zealand’s best, brightest and most creative design talent is largely male and pretty pale.

Catherine’s 40/3 posters resulted in a strong response from an affronted design community which, in turn, led Catherine and several supporters to create a blog, Designers Speak (Up) to enable open kōrero on the subject.

“DINZ has failed over two decades to address a significant gender imbalance. The objective of the campaign is to encourage not only meaningful change to the processes that have led to gender imbalance, but also to have those processes embrace cultural diversity."

This year’s awards evening is further evidence of an institute gone “dreadfully astray”.

“You need only glance at the make-up of this year’s Best Design Awards convenors and judging panels to see a glaring imbalance. Of the 9 convenors of juries for judging the nine main categories, 8 are men and 1 is a woman. Of the jurors and convenors combined, 46 are men and 15 are women. The jury for ‘The Value of Design Award’ is made up of men only."

Designers are angry that DINZ shows such disregard for the wider design community and its own membership (about 50/50 women/men). It’s simply time for change.

Feminist Action Auckland representative Katherine McAlpine says the 40/3 campaign caught their attention immediately and they offered their support to raise awareness.

Our mandate is to promote equality across gender, ethnicity and all forms of marginalisation.

We work to influence decision makers and influencers, but ultimately, we believe direct action can be a very powerful instigator of change. 125 years after New Zealand suffragists won the vote for New Zealand women, we proudly united in Designers Speak (Up)’s campaign for equity and equality. ” Designers Speak (Up) wants, beyond the series of forums the institute has arranged as a response to the indignation within the design community, a professional, independent audit of the processes of the Designers Institute of New Zealand for the institute to understand how it has arrived at these disturbing figures, and to propose solutions to turn around these embarrassing statistics. Is the Governor-General, Her Excellency Dame Patsy Reddy and her husband Sir David Gascoigne, as well as Sir Tipene O’Reagan, honoured guests at the awards this year, aware of this situation?

The protest at this year’s Best Design Awards, an occasion filled with good and deserving people, is to ensure a message is heard, to express anger, and to reinforce the response of outrage provoked by Catherine Griffiths’ 40/3 protest posters.


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