Art For Thought: The Power of Women Through Associations

power of associations

Bewildered, intrigued, and marveled—all describe how we feel about the incredible collections and coalitions of female artists, designers, and business owners that are stepping outside societal boundaries in the name of positive social change. These innovative professional women’s associations are proof of the power of joint forces in their fight for unity, diversity, and equality for women in the fields of design, architecture, fashion, beauty, and beyond.

Women supporting women is a concept that is continually tossed around by people in the public eye, used to gain public support for social media or political campaigns, etc. However, how one can join the fight for equality and uplift other women is often unaddressed.

These specific organizations, among others, do just that. They spread word of initiatives led by and for women, contribute to women’s academic and professional growth, and inspire younger generations of females to follow in their creative, powerful, successful footsteps.

As diversity advocate, writer, and Pulitzer Prize winner Gwendolyn Brooks once said, “we are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

7 Professional Women’s Associations to Know

janet morais pawea


The Portuguese-American Women’s Empowerment Alliance (PAWEA) is all about lifting each other up. Its very mission is to welcome Portuguese-American women with open arms into a broad, worldwide network of like-minded professionals. A strong proponent of women empowerment, Janet Morais, founder and CEO of KOKET and Love Happens, always hoped to find a way to propel Portuguese-American women like herself forward in their academic and professional careers. In 2020, she joined forces with Carolina Rendeiro and Angela Simões to form PAWEA. And do just that by creating stepping stones towards success, such as access to the organization’s database, a wide variety of networking events, conferences, mentorships, internships, unique exposure opportunities, and more. |

lora appleton female design council


When venturing to where race, gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status converge, look up! The sign reads ‘Female Design Council:’ an intersectional organization for the promotion of womxn designers from all walks of life. The FDC is at the forefront of pivotal leadership promotion. Paying special attention to its members’ career successes in the field of design. Founder and CEO Lora Appleton instituted the FDC after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election proved to the nation and the world that even in today’s progressive climate, professional womxn in all fields are continually faced with inequality, skepticism, and blunt disrespect. Lora’s vision in founding the FDC was to de-construct outdated gender roles and familial structure. Working to shift people’s focus onto the countless technical or artistic skills and merits womxn have to offer. You go girl, indeed. |

professional women's associations the association for women in architecture and design


When you hear someone say ‘Association for Women in Architecture and Design,’ you can’t help but think “girl power”. This professional organization works to support female leaders in the field of architecture and design. They promote their members in their professional pursuits and expand architectural education to young females. All while shattering glass ceilings in the process. Initially, the association was founded in 1922 as an all-female architectural sorority, Alpha Alpha Gamma. For the last century, they have worked tirelessly to develop and fuel a nationwide network of females-supporting-females in their educational and professional career goals. |

united in design interior design industry association


In instituting United In Design, co-founders Alexandria Dauley and Sophie Ashby had a dream to create a collaborative that is powered by the people, for the people. The duo’s priorities lie in opportunity. Delivering “entry into the interior design industry for people from black, Asian, ethnic minority and socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds” while combining these diverse members’ love of design, interior or exterior, with authenticity and unique purpose. Those that choose to take the United In Design pledge agree to take on certain responsibilities within their organizations. In place for the sake of accountability and transparency. Some examples include pushing for diversity, participating in school outreach efforts, utilizing internal diversity trainings, opening doors for and mentoring younger applicants, offering expertise at universities and colleges, and providing paid apprenticeship opportunities. |

professional women's associations the fashion group international


The Fashion Group International is a global nonprofit headquartered in New York City. Since 1931, it has been active in supporting the achievements and names of fashion industry professionals all around the world. Founded by women and for women, the FGI has evolved to accept and welcome individuals of all gender identities. So well we are including them in this list of professional women’s associations, they are for all fashion industry members. Whether working with apparel, accessories, beauty, or home, the modern-day FGI continues to set its members up for effectiveness and longevity in their careers by providing fashion trend insights, access to a widespread, worldwide network of business professionals, and opportunities for expanding their reach in the industry and fashion marketplace. |

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cosmetic executive women association board


Cosmetic Executive Women has been speaking out about the importance of “high-touch, personal connection” within the beauty industry since the early 1950’s. Over the years, it has evolved into a prestigious, prominent organization that aspires to make people believe in beauty’s power to unify. CEW continues to open doors for young female professionals in the industry. Encouraging them to connect with the field’s most established, notable figures through leader talks and mentoring. Joining Cosmetic Executive Women is about strength in numbers. Being a part of something “bigger than ourselves”. CEW’s emphasis on this message speaks to the organization’s priorities and the pride they take in their work. The power and growth of the industry itself can only begin with an appreciation of beauty. And an admiration of each other’s individual strengths. |

Professional Women's Association founders - female founder collective


Another big player in the professional women’s associations game is the Female Founder Collective, instituted in 2018. This strong, inspiring collective of women began as a 501(c)3 organization, a network of businesses founded and led by women. Its mission was and continues to be empowering, promoting, and uplifting these businesses. Helping them to positively impact their communities economically, ethically, and socially. Marked by the easily identified FFC logo, participating female-founded companies reap the benefits of grants, growth opportunities, word-of-mouth awareness, and a supportive collective of like-minded professionals. |

Words by Emily Dimond
Feature Image: Colin Anderson Productions pty ltd / Getty Images
Article Originally Appeared in Love Happens Volume 5

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