PERSPECTIVE: Time to investigate why creative is no place for a woman

Few mourned the end of Tim Delaney’s fearless tenure as chairman of the Creative Directors Forum, during which he played both soloist and conductor in a musical called Advertising is a Soft Touch for Suppliers. Production companies were smarting over his attacks on their charging system - ’production companies quote one price to us and get another from facilities houses’. And headhunters came under fire for their commission arrangements - ’headhunters simply move people’s books from one place to the next’.

Few mourned the end of Tim Delaney’s fearless tenure as chairman of

the Creative Directors Forum, during which he played both soloist and

conductor in a musical called Advertising is a Soft Touch for Suppliers.

Production companies were smarting over his attacks on their charging

system - ’production companies quote one price to us and get another

from facilities houses’. And headhunters came under fire for their

commission arrangements - ’headhunters simply move people’s books from

one place to the next’.



Now Peter Souter is taking over, and his agenda looks altogether more

cosy. Its main focus is on training for creative directors, covering

everything from handling a budget to dealing with a bereaved

employee.



In fact, his mailout to 50 creative directors last week may have led

some recipients to conclude that he lacks the strong opinions and

emotions that are expected of the leader of this IPA-affiliated industry

body. Reading it - ’you can either modify and improve on (my) ideas or

oust me in favour of someone older and smarter’ - it’s all too easy for

critics to portray him as a feather in the wind.



So I’ve got a suggestion for the CDF. Why not set in motion a proper

study into why so few women make it into creative departments, let alone

to the position of creative director. Exceptions like Barbara Nokes,

Rosie Arnold and Tiger Savage aside, it is constantly being said that

creative is one of the few agency departments that women fail to crack,

and yet none of the industry bodies seems prepared to investigate the

issue.



Is it because of the male hang-up that persists in regarding women as

crumpet first and worker second? Because women can’t shoot pool and down

pints as well as men? Because the hours are too long to allow for family

life? Because women think intuitively rather than logically? Because

they are less prepared to slum it on the ’wages’ paid to placement

teams, and so head for other careers before starting out on the

advertising ladder?



I’ve heard all these theories and a great many others besides, but I

refuse to believe the most obvious one - which is that creative

directors dislike hiring women as a matter of ’policy’. I refuse to

believe it, not just because the stupidity of such a position, if

thought through, is obvious, but because so many creative directors -

old fart and young turk alike - consistently voice the opinion privately

that they want to hire more women. What we need is research into the

issue and the CDF is undoubtedly the best body to make it happen.



Last week we even saw women allowed, ever so gratefully and after a mere

100 years, into the MCC. Let’s not leave it another hundred to find out

why they can’t make it in the creative department.



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