ThesisPDF Available

The view from here: Exploring the causes of invisibility for women in Australian graphic design and advocating for their equity and autonomy Available at:

Abstract and Figures

Graphic designers are generally invisible as the authors of their own work. A deliberate effort to self-promote must be made in order for them to be seen and acknowledged. The collaborative nature of design, associations with clients, and the involvement of production teams further hinders an individual graphic designer’s visible authorship. However, gender also has a major influence on the invisibility of women in the history of this industry. Historically, the most celebrated practising graphic designers in Australia have been men, as evidenced by their overwhelming presence in books and on award platforms. My research has explored and addressed the key factors that cause this gendered inequity, including the representation and understanding of the name ‘graphic design’, the biases in historical narratives, and the disparate understandings of ‘success’ and ‘significant contributions’. Applied research, in the form of four multi-model communication design projects, has been conducted to explore and address these issues. These are the Postcard Project (project one), the Slushie Installation (project two), the Anonymity Exhibition (project three), and the #afFEMatjon Website (project four). Using the theoretical lenses of feminism and building on existing literature I have validated my findings through the use of surveys, interviews, and the collation of data sets. Each of these major projects and accompanying methodologies quantify the visibility of women in Australian graphic design. In addition, this project advocates for women’s visibility on award platforms and in historical narratives, and in classrooms. The project collects, analyses, and validates the individual experiences of women in the graphic design industry. Comparisons are made regarding these findings in relation to academic and professional contexts, such as publishing, advertising, and within studios. New knowledge and insights are embodied in the creation of the designed outcomes. These include two distinct frameworks aimed at improving processes of power—the Framework for Gender Equitable Award Platforms and the Framework for Gender Equitable Histories. In addition, the Autonomous Comfort Zone Survey which is a tool that produced new primary research regarding the experience of individual Australian women graphic designers. These outcomes, plus the aforementioned four major projects, have been disseminated through many traditional and non-traditional channels. Each of these projects has been measured, using alt-metrics to determine the exposure, reach, and impact of the visibility they have created for women in Australian graphic design. This data has been comparatively mapped to demonstrate the large number of people exposed to the findings. It has also been qualitatively analysed to reveal the positive change that these outcomes have begun to make both within and beyond Australian graphic design.
Content may be subject to copyright.
A preview of the PDF is not available
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The paradoxical comfort zone. An investigation into how students and professional women in Australian graphic design experience [in]visibility. The paradoxical comfort zone. An investigation into how students and professional women in Australian graphic design experience [in]visibility. Jane Connory Monash University-Art, Design and Architecture 0412 103 595 Biography Jane Connory is a PhD candidate and teaching associate at Monash University, Art, Design and Architecture, working towards a gender inclusive history of Australian graphic design. She was awarded a Master of Communication Design (Design Management) with Distinction from RMIT in 2016 and has been a practicing designer in the advertising, branding and publishing sectors, in both London and Melbourne, since 1997. Alongside her research exploring the visibility of women in design, she is currently the National Head of Communications at the Design Institute of Australian, the Vice President of the Creative Women's Circle board and consultant to the Australian Graphic Design Association. Abstract This paper looks to theorise the states of visibility and invisibility (that is [in]visibility) experienced by women in the Australian graphic design industry, post 1960. Visibility, as a form of authorship, self-promotion and presence in historical narratives, is the professional ambition for many graphic designers, however invisibility is often viewed as a negative choice. Invisibility for women-that is a whole or partial state of absence in comparison to men-along with visibility, is the focus of this investigation. Interviews were conducted with twenty-four women, identified as significant contributors to Australian graphic design by their peers. These were then transcribed and analysed using grounded theory and an [in]visibility framework, developed by Ruth Simpson and Patricia Lewis (Simpson and Lewis, 2007). The results, focusing on the 'deep' drivers of invisibility, reveal a diversity of emotive experiences related to comfort levels and has led to the development of a survey instrument for further enquiry. The survey-titled Comfort and [In]Visibility-gauges and validates the emotive comfort zones of individual women within the states of [in]visibility. Surveying students and professional women in Australian graphic design, the initial analyses show both common and disparate attitudes towards [in]visibility. We may conclude from this research that women generally feel comfortable with being visible but can The paradoxical comfort zone. An investigation into how students and professional women in Australian graphic design experience [in]visibility. feel just as comfortable with being invisible, at the same time; what we call 'the paradox of comfort zones'.
Feminist theory is not only about women; it is about the world, engaged through critical intersectional perspectives. Despite many significant differences , most feminist theory is reliably suspicious of dualistic thinking, generally oriented toward fluid processes of emergence rather than static entities in one-way relationships, and committed to being a political as well as an intellectual enterprise. It is rooted in and responsible to movements for equality, freedom, and justice. Three important contemporary questions within feminist theory concern (a) subjectivity, narrative, and materiality; (b) global neoliberal geopolitics; and (c) global ecologies. Feminist theorists employ the tools of intersectionality, interdisciplinarity, and the intertwin-ings of scholarship and activism to address these questions. While we labor to contribute to our academic fields, our primary responsibility is to contribute to positive social change.