Recap: Our First Town Hall
“I’m a woman and I make a lot of money.” One of the women in the room declared this loud and proud and the hundred or so women around her cheered. As an accomplished illustrator, and Working Not Working member, she should be proud. But sadly, she is in the minority. With women still making 78 cents to the dollar (64 and 56 cents if you’re Black or Latina, respectively), this is a statistic that has long been troubling to us. Given that we are a network of the world’s best creatives and companies, we are uniquely positioned to contribute to positive change in the industry. And that begins with conversation: raw, unfiltered, and honest.
At the urging of Designer/Art Director Leta Sobierajski, we organized a town hall forum to enable more women to participate. Clearly we hit a nerve: within minutes of posting on Instagram, our event was sold out with a long waitlist to boot. On May 5th, over 100 women, mostly creatives and a few recruiters, packed into a beautiful Bowery loft (found courtesy of our friends at Splacer.) To help guide the conversation, we asked a few women along with Leta to share their stories first: Lotta Nieminen, Agatha Kulaga of Ovenly, Michelle Higa Fox, New York Magazine’s Dayna Evans,Rachael Yaeger, AIGA’s Perrin Drumm, and Amy Woodside of OKREAL. We kicked off the evening with a toast (with Cinco de Mayo margaritas, of course!) to each other and to the courage it takes to speak up about a subject that can be so uncomfortable.
We were blown away by the generosity with which everyone offered their experiences. Frustrations were voiced but so was advice; from freelance pricing to salary negotiating, how to fundraise to being the only woman in a meeting. Tips and encouragement were passed as freely as the microphone. Any concern about the town hall being too open of a forum was put to rest as each woman encouraged the next to share. Because a diversity of industries were present, there was one consensus: we must host this again.
In the meantime, we’ve continued the conversation in private Slack group (email us for an invitation.) You can also download our money playlist on Spotify and tag yourself in the Facebook album.
Special thanks to: Splacer, Vita Coco, Yes Way Rose, and Taquitoria for helping make this event happen.