Are there enough women in advertising?
Last night was the Golden Stiletto Awards, an annual award for women in the advertising & digital space to celebrate female creativity.
The awards are part of a growing organisation called ‘She Says’ set up by Alessandra Lariu and Laura Jordan Bambach (LBi). It now has members in London, Holland, America, Canada, Australia, South America and many more places.
She Says run free mentorship and networking events to over 3000 women in the creative business. Why? Because they want to see more women at the top, which raises the question, why aren’t their more women up top?
PR has always had a higher than average percentage of women, but by contrast, ad agency creative departments have on average 85% men, ironic given that 85% of consumer spend is by women. Digital agencies seem to have a higher level of women but design is more male dominated.
It’s not true to say that women haven’t made it to the top in both creative and account direction, there are a good few women but in the ad agency world there are not a lot of ECDs/CDs compared to men.
A quick look through an old copy of FileFX* reveals: Rosie Arnold, Tiger Savage, Kate Stanners, Victoria Gallardo, Kiki Kendrick, Anita Davis, Pam Mason, Joanna Perry, Karen Ellis, Martina Langer, Christine Turner, Emma DeLa Fosse, Liz Gilmore, Christine Jones, Charity Charity, Nocola Jackson – which is not a lot. (You should note a few women CDs just work on beauty accounts.) Some big ad agencies have no female CDs at all.
Add to the list DM, SP and digital agencies and I estimate they make up about 5% of CDs/ECDs.
One big question is, are women creatives different from male ones? In my experience, and I’ve employed over 100 creatives over the years as a CD, yes. Women are less ego centric for a start. More sensitive. They get women and men consumers, while most men just get men only. I would say there is NO difference in quality of ideas and imagination of craft skills, but in our business being able to emotional engage consumers is critical to great and effective ads. Ok, that’s just my experience, but there’s a lot of science fact that supports a difference in the way the male and female minds work that would suggest women make better ad creative. (Check out Why Women Shop on Venus and Men Shop on Mars link below).
With only one ad agency claiming a 50:50 employment ethos (in creative) is it time the industry made a real effort to address the balance? Especially as women are key consumers, and taking over many areas like finance.
Equality is something lacking in our industry, yet many other industries have been addressing this for decades.
Some may argue, the reason there are less women is because it attracts less women. Would that be because most creative departments are full of beer drinking, football loving alpha males?
Or as one friend put it, “women are smarter, they get out early”.
To quote SheSay’s website, “The world is pretty much half men, half women, so why are there hardly any women doing top jobs at agencies?” Whatever the reason, there’s a desperate need to readdress the balance if we as an industry want to be able to keep up with the times. Lets start by openly discussing it and maybe big agencies should tell us what their hiring policy is, while the trade bodies should raise it higher up their agenda.
All you want to know about female consumers, facts, data and insights: www.venus2mars.net
(* this information may not be up to date and sorry if your name was missed off.)