CAMPAIGN CRAFT: COLUMN; Why women are kept out of the top creative jobs

I’ve been labouring over this piece ever since Campaign asked me to think about why there are so few women in the creative side of advertising. Everyone whose opinion I have sought has sighed heavily and admitted that they don’t really know. Many guesses have been made. ‘Departments are too laddish.’ ‘Women tend not to be aggressive enough to compete in this world!’

I’ve been labouring over this piece ever since Campaign asked me to

think about why there are so few women in the creative side of

advertising. Everyone whose opinion I have sought has sighed heavily and

admitted that they don’t really know. Many guesses have been made.

‘Departments are too laddish.’ ‘Women tend not to be aggressive enough

to compete in this world!’



Art schools and college courses often start out 50 per cent men and 50

per cent women, and in most cases those women go on to graduate. But

somewhere between graduating and going into advertising, most of them

disappear, obviously choosing other creative areas to work in. Many of

the tutors say some of the best students they ever worked with were

women. It’s a shame that something is holding back their contribution to

an industry where we all approve of ingenious work.



Advertising agencies are not alone, however. Graphic design has the same

problem - great female students but no all-female equivalent groups

cutting a swathe.



Many of the women creatives I know have had the problem of not getting

some of the briefs they would love to work on because they are often

considered unsuitable.



Top headhunters advise women that they will do better in this area if

they team up with a man. They also very rarely seem to get to the giddy

heights of creative director.



Maybe creative directors need to think about creating more sympathetic

environments. There is a reason why most women who do make it into

advertising tend to be assertive: they need to be. Being a mouse just

doesn’t work when it comes to persuading your male colleagues you can

promote beer and football better than they can.



This brings us round to last year’s debate on the D&AD jury. As there

are so few women in the creative side, let’s make sure that at every

opportunity students can see evidence that it does work for some. Give

the girls who do well as much publicity as possible.



Reading through some of my favourite female quotes, two came to my

notice as possible ammunition for any female students considering

advertising. Try these...



‘Our strength is often composed of the weakness we’re damned if we’re

going to show’ (Mignon McLaughlin, 20th-century writer).



‘Women are repeatedly accused of taking things personally. I can’t see

another honest way of taking them’ (Marya Mannes, writer, 1904).



Helen Langridge runs Helen Langridge Associates



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