In Europe, the gender pay gap of 14% is still a fact. This means that women for example get paid 86 euros where men earn 100 euros for the same type of work. shemakes empowers future female innovators of the sustainable fashion industry through inspiration, skills and networks to bridge the gender gap in the textile and clothing sector.
While numerous projects and initiatives have focused on bridging the gender gap in the better-paid science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors, shemakes focus on addressing gender inequality in the specific business sector of the textile and clothing industry. Why? Because women in the textile and clothing industry are currently most represented in the lowest-paying jobs. Their positions are affected by systemic gender constructs while their natural and acquired skills are assigned low value in traditional business structures.
Who is shemakes?
shemakes is a two-year European-funded initiative with a consortium of 10 partners in 7 countries. In order to bridge the gender gap, shemakes will mobilise two innovation ecosystems in the textiles and clothing (T&C) sector:
- Fabricademy, based on the Fab Academy model of worldwide distributed digital analogue education in the FabLab network, is bringing greater gender parity to the currently male-dominated maker culture.
- Textile and Clothing Business Labs (TCBL) foundation, a network with over 50 Labs that has built a value based innovation community already characterised by a majority of women in leading roles.
The experience, existing practices and research of these two ecosystems will form a fertile starting point to work towards more equality in the T&C industry.
Let’s bridge the Gender Gap!
Practically, shemakes aims to tackle her challenge along three strategic axes:
● Provide Innovative Learning Paths such as workshops that engage girls and women innovators in three different age groups
● Business support and connections by engaging local communities and businesses in collaborative activities and co-creation workshops. This could lead to new innovation projects and business concepts
● Share inspiring stories of role models of female innovators, designers, researchers and entrepreneurs within the community of girls and women
This project expects to produce a range of concrete impacts on textile and clothing manufacturing in at least ten European countries and provide a roadmap for policy change, making it replicable on an even larger scale. We envisage a more circular sustainable fashion industry guided by concepts of equality, innovation and openness, in which female creativity, craftswomanship and compassion are recognised as drivers of success.