Double or Nothing Movement Champions Women Design Leaders


As demands for female empowerment and gender equity rise to the fore in the broader society, AIGA has launched “Double or Nothing,” a movement that seeks to double the number of women leaders in design. Time to coincide with Women’s History Month, The initiative launches with a website that will continually expand and evolve with resources such as a corporate pledge for gender equity, practical toolkits, career advice and insights, and inspiring stories about female designers. The sponsors assert that this is more than an awareness campaign but, rather, a movement to create tangible impact and forge partnerships between women who want to lead and those committed to helping them do so.

Spearheaded by AIGA’s Women Lead Initiative and a coalition that includes Blue State Digital, Decker Design, IBM, Lippincott, Pentagram, and Quartz, Double or Nothing intends to catalyze massive change by confronting the biases that exist within the design industry. Female leadership reportedly ranges from only 4% to 11% depending upon business sector and particular survey, despite graphic design being a primarily female profession (53.5% of designers are women, according to a recent study by AIGA and Google). The AIGA Women Lead Initiative was founded in 2014 by Su Mathews Hale and Deborah Adler to address persistent biases and inequities in the design industry.

“Once in the workplace, particularly after five to 10 years, there is a lack of mentorship, celebration of female work, support for mothers, and equal pay,” said Lynda Decker of Decker Design and Co-Chair Women Lead Committee of the AIGA. “At this state of their career, women often do not feel empowered to negotiate pay and the position they deserve or are reluctant to ask for guidance. We want that to end.”

Pentagram, a lead partner, developed the Double or Nothing creative strategy including the name, brand identity, voice and website design. “We’re working to empower women to have a stronger path toward getting what they want and deserve,” said Emily Oberman, who led the team at Pentagram. “To that end, we’re looking for companies to make a public pledge of commitment and to be held accountable for meeting goals. You can bet that savvy designers will be drawn to those companies working to ensure inclusivity and balance.”

“This is not just a campaign — it’s a movement to promote continuous and much-needed progress,” adds  Heather Stern of Lippincott and Co-Chair Women Lead Committee, AIGA. “‘Double or Nothing’ alludes to the ‘duos’ required to achieve our goal:  pay and promotion, men and women, design and business, aspiring leaders and those who want to support them.”

Blue State Digital, also a lead partner, built the website and lent its proprietary tools to serve as a foundation for communications and engagement. “The awareness and momentum are there — it’s time for our community to design a solution to achieve parity,” said Laura Kunkel, Creative Director at Blue State Digital.

As part of the Double or Nothing initiative, AIGA national partner IBM will help develop a series of tangible commitments and best practices for companies to adopt in order to accelerate progress for female designers. “IBM has a commitment to diversity and equality in all of our practices and we’re thrilled to be a launch partner with AIGA in this important initiative,” said Doug Powell, Distinguished Designer at IBM and former AIGA national president. IBM was recently recognized as 2018 Catalyst Award winner for its efforts in supporting women in the workplace.

To expand reach and influence, AIGA is also partnering with Quartz’s How We’ll Win project, a year-long exploration of the fight for gender equality. How We’ll Win highlights strategies for supporting inclusivity, women in power, and the next generation of leaders, including insights from some of the world’s most powerful and influential women across every industry.

Concluded AIGA executive director Julie Anixter, “Our pledge is to continue to champion women’s leadership, as well as women and men who support diversity and inclusion. Double of Nothing is a great example of not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.”

Last year, the group introduced the Gender Equity Toolkit, an interactive game for surfacing implicit bias in the workplace conceived in collaboration with Disrupt Design, and the Mathews Hale Women Lead Award, a scholarship that helps support talented, high potential female designers starting out in their careers.