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Shoot for the Stars, But Only if It’s Entry-Level, Right? A Discussion About the Glass Ceiling in Fashion

It is freshmen year and I have just arrived to “Fashion Day” on campus which was hosted by my department where all of the design and merchandising students could mingle and sit in on panels from industry professionals. Left and right, you could see a swarm of girls chatting, laughing, and complimenting each other as they were in their best fits. I saw maybe one or two guys in attendance and that’s probably because the event was not mandatory. But if we’re being honest, there are very few guys in the fashion department. I can probably count them off on one hand. Putting two and two together, it lead me to the question of: How are there so many women in the fashion industry, yet the industry is deemed as “male-dominated”?

Adriana Sahar SS19. Via: Instagram

I’ve always heard the fashion industry was male-dominated, but I always wondered how when women were always the ones in the stores making purchases and mostly women pursued degrees in fashion (aka Bachelor’s of the Arts and others). According to the Glass Runway study, only 14% of womenswear companies are operated by women. In a study done on the New York Institute of Technology, over 80% of the students and graduates were women. Other NY schools had more than half of the students and graduates being women. These women graduated with high hopes and eager to start their promising careers in fashion. But the thing is, those entry-level positions are where most women stay…and this applies to corporate America as a whole, not just fashion.

Jenni Riccetti of Riccetti Clothing. Via: Instagram

The underlying causes of gender equality in fashion stem from many areas including traditional gender roles, lack of guidance and confidence, and family and peers. Traditional gender roles have always placed men at the forefront as the breadwinners while women were the nurturers and caregivers, tending to the home and children. Executives holding such views will prevent women from climbing their way to the top. Moreover, a man is not going to tell a female counterpart how to get to where he is…he wants to stay in power. God forbid if a woman takes his place. Family and other close ones can diminish confidence in even pursuing the career. I know I cannot be the only one who has heard this: “What can you do with a degree in fashion” or “fashion won’t make you any money”. Is everyone naked? The lack of knowledge of fashion and its endless career choices leads people to assumptions that main jobs are designing or modeling. It is so much more deeper than that, so stop discouraging women from pursuing careers in fashion.

Women have no guidance to get to those positions they have always dreamed of and that comes from the lack of confidence driven by internal and external factors. Women are the face of fashion, literally plastered on magazines covers and advertisements worldwide. Yet, men run the industry? Baffling.

3 Things I Want You to Know

Aerial Yazmine styling. Via: @glascovisuals

Know your worth. Women usually ask for promotions half as often as men and the men are offered promotions they usually do not ask for. You felt like you did just as good on that assignment (if not better) as your male counterpart did. You deserve that new position with the new office and new job title. Do not get discouraged and settle. Speak up and let your voice be heard.

Sami Miro and her Sami Miro Vintage brand clothing. Via: Instagram

Be your own CEO. Corporate America is shaking right now honestly because we are entering a new world of business which involves you being your own boss. Entrepreneurship has been steadily growing as people have been turning that cooking niche into coins or making clothing that gets noticed by Cardi B. Take that unlocked talent or love for something and turn into your life and business.

Tiffany Reid, Tamu McPherson, and Nicole Chapoteau at NYFW. Via: Instagram

The time is now. The need for equality and diversity is skin and gender deep now. Diversity and equality brings more positive enhancements to companies as they truly can understand their customers and foster better work environments. It is time to start the conversation, implement action, and take your throne as an executive, ladies.

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