Happy International Women’s Day from #CSI19!

A day to show how far we’ve come, a day to remind us how far we’ve still to go or simply a day to celebrate the women in your life, International Women’s Day has many meanings to many people.

This year’s chosen focus of International Women’s Day is #BalanceForBetter, which couldn’t more appropriately reflect our new Conference Agenda. At Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Americas, we’re working to ensure gender balance throughout the event, but specifically in the conference portion. Findings from Dezeen’s ‘Move the Needle’ initiative have shown that the conference-side of events is where the gender balance is let down the most, as it can be particularly hard to find women speakers who want to, and are able to, speak. It is also, unfortunately, more common for women speakers to drop out of events, and harder to replace them if they do; this is why it’s so important to enter planning with an already-high proportion of women speakers.

“Working with our Conference Director, Helen Blantz, we wanted to provide a platform to inspire the next generation of female talent. The specially dedicated ‘Women’s Leadership Forum’ will highlight some of the most influential female leadership, while leaving our audience with practical tools to help them navigate this highly competitive sector. Whether you are a newbie, veteran, male or female, this session is designed to educate, inspire and raise awareness of the importance of having a diverse pool of talent in the cruise interiors sector.” – Toby Walters, CEO, Cruise Ship Interiors

Though it may be a male-dominated sector, women are certainly making waves in the cruise industry, with the likes of Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Kelly Hoppen, and more taking the cruise world by storm with their innovative initiatives and unique design style, respectively. But issues such as the design industry’s gender pay gap still need to be addressed. Using data from the Design Census 2017, we discovered the average female-identifying designer gets paid nearly 18% less than the average male-identifying designer. These statistics then vary further from sector to sector and also depend on race, sexual orientation, class, location, and other factors. The gender pay gap is an ongoing issue, but at least on our end, we want to work towards creating more visibility of women talent in the industry and encourage others to do the same as much as they can.

We’re pleased to say we have some of the industry’s best and brightest talent speaking on panels across all sessions. Currently, the event has 41% women speaking and we can only hope to improve on this year after year.

However, because we are operating in a male-dominated industry, we decided to provide balance alone wasn’t enough; we wanted to provide a panel session led exclusively by women, highlighting the massive amounts of female talent in this sector. The ‘Women’s Leadership Forum’ is a session led by the industry’s leading female talent, with speakers including Dee Cooper, Senior Vice President of Design at Virgin Voyages, My Nguyen, Deputy Director Of Interior Design & Operations at Seabourn & Holland America Line, Petra Ryberg, Head of Design at P&O Australia, Felicia Zwebner, CEO at FZ Collection. This ‘forum’ has been specifically designed to foster communication and transparency regarding the gender imbalance in the industry and will provide an opportunity to the industry’s leading talent (regardless of gender) to highlight the challenges faced by women and strides that have been made by them.

“It is a privilege to join the Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Americas as a panelist. This influential group of thought leaders represents the best and most insightful thinking in the industry”.

Francesca Bucci, President, BG Studio