Women In Lighting celebrate 5th anniversary

March 21, 2024

(Germany) – Women in Lighting (WIL) celebrated its 5th anniversary at Light and Building, Frankfurt.

Celebrated annually on International Women’s Day, the organisation drew a crowd of supporters at the Messe Frankfurt in March, where Founders Sharon Stammers and Martin Lupton hosted a morning of celebratory content and networking event.

Created to spotlight women who are largely underrepresented in the industry and champion their achievements, while also highlighting challenges that they face, the platform has to date connected designers from across 79 countries. Its expanding network foster’s support among both emerging and established professionals.

Commencing the event was an exploration of “Inspirational Women”. Six industry experts, three men and three women: Carla Wilkins, Lichtvision; Cherine Saroufim, WIL Lebanon Ambassador; Andrea Hartranft, Hartranft Lighting; Philip Rafael, Insight Lighting Design; Amardeep Dugar, Lighting RN-D; Tejas Doshi, Light & Beyond, in a Pecha Kucha style presentation served alongside refreshments.

This line-up was followed with keynote speakers. Jen Lewin, installation artist, discussed interactive landscapes and the power of interactive light art. Followed by Lighting designer Ulrike Brandi reflecting on her 35-year career journey as a seasoned light designer, author, and international teacher. Multimedia director Julie Boniche concluded the keynote sessions with a discussion on lighting in the entertainment industry and how lighting orchestrates emotions. A mixture of short remote and in person discussions with five international ambassadors of WIL followed, before finishing with a networking party.

Originally created for architectural lighting design, WIL has grown to include light engineers, artists, those in education and entertainment. In making these connections women share knowledge and have sourced inspiration from each other.

The first WIL event, conducted virtually, took place during Covid in 2019, and ran again in 2022. In 2023 a global gathering of data was conducted examining the lighting profession in the context of the 2023 theme of International Women’s Day, embracing equity. The data gathered was discussed at the event and looked to uncover where equity was thriving and where it needed to improve.

800 people from 73 countries completed the survey, which was designed for both men and women to participate, although only 30.9% were men. The results found both positive and negative results. Positives included policies being implemented in workplaces for gender equity however a high percentage of people reported sexism and racism in the workplace.

Sharon Stammer, co-founder of WIL, says: “We are often asked, what’s the point of WIL? Or I don’t get it or isn’t it time to stop going on about women or if its divisive. We disagree. Our digital platform is celebratory. The aims of the project have always been to try to do something that is primarily positive – we didn’t want to create a forum for negativity and felt that the best thing we could do was showcase the amazing work of women working in lighting from around the world.”

Stammer adds: “The journey towards equality and diversity in lighting design is ongoing, and the Women in Lighting Project plays a crucial role in steering this journey forward. As we move ahead, we commit to uplifting, and amplifying the voices of women in our industry, recognising their invaluable contributions and potential to shape the future of lighting designs.”

Katia Kolovea, communication strategist for WIL, says: “Reflecting on the exciting five-year WIL anniversary event in Frankfurt, I would love to celebrate each participant, male or female, from various industry sectors and career stages who came together to participate. As the talks ended, we gathered on stage, inviting everyone to bring their physical or digital flags, creating the most colourful and multicultural photo the Women in Lighting Network has ever seen. Seeing those photos now, tears of joy fill my eyes, feeling the global energy and support this movement has ignited.”