Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Feminism and Designer Compensation

I've been thinking a lot about how Feminism relates to how much money designers make. (The answer about the money part, is not very much). I thinks much of it relates to knitting being seen as women's work just like house cleaning is and therefore it receives low compensation.

A friend and I recently tried to think of equivalents in more male dominated professions that are comparable to the position that many designers and knitting industry workers  find themselves in. The closest we could come were musicians but music is not so exclusively female. 

I'm one of the lucky ones in that I have income from my previous corporate job. My friend estimates that at least 25% of knitting professionals have alternative income. Going by my interview series the numbers could be even higher.  

Another professional knitter I know has commented about the past of knitting design when yarn companies paid stay at home housewives to design their patterns to provide yarn support. They paid very low rates for the work and that may have depressed the rate of compensation from the beginning creating the current situation.

I find it difficult to promote myself in ways that I know most men have no problem doing. Some time ago I read a great book about this. It was, Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation--and Positive Strategies for Change by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. Maybe it's time for me to reread this one?

I don't want to appear to be moaning as I feel very fortunate to be able to pursue a creative life that I was denied when I worked full time. However, having said that, I am very aware that my position means that I make decisions differently than those that must make a living from their knitting related work. I also feel that it's problematic for our industry's growth when many potentially great knitting professionals simply can't afford to follow their calling.


  1. Another good book is "Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office".

  2. Another one to add to the list: Good Girls Go to Heaven, Bad Girls Go Everywhere: How to Break the Rules and Get What You Want from Your Job, Your Family, and Your Relationship - written in the 90s by German author Ute Erhardt. Should you read it, bear in mind that this is written by a German, and German feminism has a lot more catching up to do than its British or American counterparts. - (I am a German living in the UK.)