Why I will no longer call myself 'designer' | International Women's Day
This year's International Women's Day 2022 is focusing on 'Break The Bias' and is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. We at MAAREE Sports Bras are passionate about helping to achieve a gender equal world through celebrating women's achievements and increasing visibility, while calling out inequality. STEM
"Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow"
International Women's Day 2022
This time last year we launched a competition to design our upcoming Limited Edition Empower Bra for CoppaFeel! for IWD in order to celebrate and encourage the talents of female designer taking charge of products designed specifically for women.
I started MAAREE back in 2018 after my experience as a sports bra performance tester under laboratory conditions. Since launching, when asked if I were the designer behind the sports bras, I always answered "yes". However, upon reflection on these questions and the theme of this year's International Women's Day, I have decided that I will no longer answer "yes" to this question. In future, my answer will be "no, I am the engineer".
Why I will no longer be calling myself the 'designer'
According to Unicef, "globally 18 per cent of girls in tertiary education are pursuing STEM studies [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] — compared to 35 per cent of boys". I have always considered myself to be one of these girls. Not only enjoying and pursuing the STEM subjects in school, but fortunate enough to get a job in the field after my studies. However, for some strange reason, having never gone to fashion school, I've always been referred to as the designer.
It has never sat right with me when someone calls me that. I don't feel like a designer. I don't feel I have earned the right to call myself that. I've never gone to fashion school or gained the same experience and amazing skills that fashion designers have worked so hard to gain. I have however come at the issue from a different perspective. The engineering route. The STEM route.
Break The Bias - IWD
I analysed the key performance indicators of sports bra performance first, with the design and aesthetics of the bras coming second. The sports bras that I 'engineer' are specifically created with ultimate performance as the goal. Once I feel that I have achieved this, then we move onto the aesthetic design. I started MAAREE based on these same principles.
I am a firm believer that sports bras deserve the same amount of attention and forethought as our running shoes. Espeically from women. We often see many biomechanists working in laboratories to design the latest improvements in footwear. We haven't traditionally seen this when it comes to clothing, specifically sports bras. Nonetheless, I am this person.
I would love to help strengthen this as part of International Women's Day.
Engineering &... Sportswear?
Traditionally, fashion and sportswear have gone hand in hand. Engineering? Not so much. But this is changing. This is why, I believe, I've always been asked if I were the designer. It's high time that we start applying skills from the STEM industry to help solve long-standing issues we have in the world. Which is why it is so important that we get more girls and women interested in STEM. We can offer a fresh perspective on current issues and, most likely, create better solutions for our future. What better time to talk about it than on IWD, eh?
Being an engineer doesn't mean you are necessarily working towards a career in trains, buildings or chemicals. It can be applied to other fields, ones you may have a greater interest in. You may even be the first to the party, therefore able to make groundbreaking developments by coming at it from a different perspective. Creating disruptions no-one else has thought of yet.
Let's get more girls interested in STEM subjects and shouting proud to be involved in them! I hope my story with MAAREE can help break the bias and further help towards achieving gender equality.