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Editor's Note

Why We Still Need the Women in Signs Award

Even as we look forward to the day we no longer do.




AT LAST YEAR’S ISA Expo event celebrating our 2023 Women in Signs Award winners, one recipient, Elizabeth Arenella Toynes from Studio Dzo (Austin, TX), said something to the effect of, “I look forward to the day when we no longer need the Women in Signs Award … but that day has not yet arrived.”

Indeed, when the day Elizabeth looks forward to comes, we will know it. The women in our industry will confirm it. At present, however, with our 2024 Big Survey finding for the third straight year that women are outnumbered by four to one as owners and managers at sign companies, sadly that day seems distant.

What can we do? The obvious answer is to treat women equally as men, regardless of their roles within the company. This month’s Real Deal — inspired by the experience of a 2023 Women in Signs Award recipient — illustrates why equal treatment must rule.

Buzz Session delves into the areas in which women perform signwork. For our Brain Squad-responding companies, 39% employ women as fabricators and 19% as installers — two roles traditionally dominated by men.

A further combined 39% also expect women to comprise more than a quarter of sign company owners and top managers in 2030. An optimistic 15% of our Squad expects women to make up 30% or more owners and managers by 2030. So, 30% by 2030 sounds like a good, if aggressive industry goal. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait till 2050 for 50%.

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5 Smart Tips from This Issue

  1. Get an overview of engraving methods: pantograph, rotary, laser and impact printing. (Tech Products)
  2. Use our decision trees to determine when to hire a salesperson or fire a customer. (Decisions, Decisions)
  3. Inclusivity extends to sign users as well as employees, so train staff thoroughly in accessibility. (Heidi Tillmanns)
  4. Instead of complaining about problems, take actions and motivate your staff to solve them. (Maggie Harlow)
  5. Find answers to questions on Canva designs, purchasing equipment vs. subcontracting and more. (Ask Signs of the Times)




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