How did the excellent WIL initiative come about?
It actually sprung from a mistake that we had made. We were doing a project called ‘The Perfect Light’. The project was to create films with lighting designers about the perfect light. During a screening in New York, one of the audience members asked why there were hardly any women in the films. She was right – 23 designers had participated, with 19 men and 4 women. We had just shown unconscious bias.
We wondered if we were alone in this, so we looked around. Conference speakers, award juries, editorial teams and beyond, across the industry, the visible representation of the industry was massively skewed towards males. We wanted to do something about it and the Women In Lighting project was born.
This balance is not something that is unusual in construction, and in fact, we have found that lighting is a pretty well-balanced industry - at least 50/50 and potentially heading towards more female designers. The issue was that the majority of the role models were male and that is what we set out to change with the Women in Lighting project - we wanted to create a platform to showcase the diversity that already existed.
That audience member who made us stop and think was Francesca Bastianini. She is now the American Ambassador for WIL. We thank Francesca for making us accountable, and in turn, helping us to help make the industry acknowledge the issue.
What is your vision for the WIL community over the next few years?
We want to keep growing and become even more active. International Women’s Day is a very important date in our calendar. WIL has a strong global presence with many ambassadors from across the world.
We’re also recently launched the WIL Awards, which is designed to specifically highlight the achievements of the WIL community and supports. The response so far has been overwhelming.
We will continue to hold events like these to raise awareness within our industry and beyond. We are here to stay – the movement has been so positive; we want to build momentum and inspire even more people, so we plan on building on what has already been achieved.