How diverse are we? Here’s what you told us

4 years ago by

Written by Lana Lopesi

Want to know how diverse the New Zealand graphic design industry is? So do we. When trawling the internet to find statistics, studies and reports about diversity within the sector, turned up empty, we decided to run our own study. Over a two-month period, we ran a survey of only five simple questions, reaching out to the Design Assembly community. We asked you to identify your age, gender, ethnicity, role and experience. Over that time, 419 people self-selected to fill in the survey to help us work out who the Design Assembly community is, and this is who you told us you are.


Here is what you told us:

– The Design Assembly community is mostly female and mostly Pākehā, with the biggest group being Pākehā women between the ages of 18 to 39.

– Out of 417 respondents only 75 people identified as something other than Pākehā. The next biggest ethnic group was Asian, followed by Māori, then Pacific, then other. 51 people identified as having 2 or more ethnicities.

– The Design Assembly community is mostly made up of people between the ages of 18-29 (36.21%), quickly followed by the 30-39 age bracket (35.01%).

– While the Design Assembly community is mostly made up of women, the balance of men to women becomes equal in management, art director and design director positions. This shows that while there aren’t as many men in the industry, most of the men in the industry hold senior positions. Where as women make up the majority of freelance designer and junior designer positions.

– There is also less cultural diversity at this higher level (Pākehā: 88.07%, Asian: 5.52%, Māori: 11.04%, Pacific: 5.52%, African: 0.92%)

– While Pākehā make up the majority of Design Assembly community across all lengths of service, the general trend is that the longer the term of service to the design industry, the lesser the amount of cultural diversity.

– Those who idenitified as being a part of design education were overwhelming Pākehā with the majority also being male (Pākehā: 76.19%, Māori: 14.28%, Pacific: 9.52%)

So what does all this mean? If we look at this sample we can see that there are clear biases in the Design Assembly community – we are mostly female, mostly Pākehā and mostly under 40. However, our sample size of 419 is only a slither of industry at large. While it is difficult for us to know how many people work within Graphic Design all of Aotearoa the ‘Industry Snapshot for Auckland: Creative Sector’ report produced by the Auckland Council in 2013 has ‘design’ (comprising advertising, architecture and graphic design) as Auckland’s largest creative sub-sector, with 6840 employees making up 38 per cent of the creative sector’s total employment.

Until we have more comprehensive research of the industry is very difficult to know what this means for the profession. In the meantime perhaps it’s now time to extend the question to you, where to from here?


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