Women Run the (Fashion) World?

Kashika writes about how women dominate the fashion industry but only occupy a small percentage of executive positions.

Ever since I was very young, I always received a lot of encouragement from my family to pursue my aspiration of working in the fashion industry. I used to follow new fashion trends and styles religiously, and as I grew older, the marketing strategies employed by fashion houses as well as their business models began to fascinate me as well. I wanted to know how these labels work and what goes on behind the scenes. I soon realized that such encouragement was not available to some of my other male friends for whom it was made a non-option since it was stereotypically meant to be a ‘feminine’ pursuit.

Source: Harper’s Bazaar

The fact that approximately eighty-five percent of the graduating class of fashion majors in the world is female might count as evidence that the conception is more widespread than just in my household or the houses of my friends. Women do in fact, occupy many more professional positions in the fashion industry than men, and has been the case for the longest time. Female graduates head off into entry-level positions at companies big and small. They begin with grand ambitions and dreams of the C suite. And then, someplace amid their climb from middle management to the top, the gender balance will shift.

Despite this being the case, women only occupy a tiny percentage of executive positions in the industry. Despite the smaller percentage of men in the fashion industry at an educational level, they soon take over because fashion, an industry dominated by women’s apparel and kept afloat by female rupees, with an image sold by women to women, is still primarily run by men — only 14 percent of major fashion brands are driven by female executives.

The reasons for this range from family, to sexism, to lack of mentorship, and confidence, less aggressive pursuit of promotion. For many women, motherhood also becomes an obstacle to their career progression. This exposes just how old-fashioned the industry is in contradiction to the progressive picture it tries to paint of itself — women are paid lower, addressed in gender bias ways and are given differential treatment. Considering the number of women the fashion industry employs, the extent to which gender inequality exists in it is a warning flag and a call to action.

Source: New York Magazine

It is important that the future of the fashion industry doesn’t resemble it’s past and with us being the future, we should put H.R. departments on notice and begin striking these conversations. Measures including offering clear criteria for advancement and building flexibility into the work schedule should also be taken as a starting point.

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