I took my millennial daughter to the Clio Awards last night, which was a splendid affair. Non-recessionary menu (quail eggs and tartar), flowing bar, great work, fun crowd. She still can't get over having been in the same room with Pharrell Williams. But, perhaps because I was seeing things through her eyes, I couldn't help noting how lopsided the awards acceptances were. Virtually all who took the stage to receive them were men. What bothered me more than this was--my daughter didn't notice.
How acclimated we all are to the role of women applauding others. Barbara Lippert (Adweek) and Penny Baldwin (Yahoo) did a swell job presenting well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Awards to Rich Silverstein and Jeff Goodby. But only two women were lauded as winners themselves. The first approached the stage accompanied by a male teammate. She hung in the shadows as he delivered a few words, then he gestured for her step up to the mic. But she was as hesitant to comply as if he'd asked her to give it a blow job. She kept her distance, leaned forward and said only, "Thank you." Later, another woman was honored, but instead of accepting her due, she apologized for it. "I don't want to take up your time. Enjoy your evening," she said, hurrying away.
It's true that the world isn't fair, that the playing field is tilted, that the world's default setting still seems to be Male. Clio jury committees average 9 men to 1 woman. But women tend to worsen the odds by refusing to get comfortable with putting themselves forward. By adhering to vestigial mandates to act like a "lady."
In the lobby, while waiting for the awards ceremony to begin, I met a young guy who'd flown in from Stockholm. "Guess that means you've won something," I said. "A Silver," he nodded. "But I feel a bit sad. They won't let me on stage to accept it." Unfortunately for him, there were too many Clios and not enough time to publicly award them. I asked to take his picture and said I would blog him. His name is Carl Jannerfeldt. He was a copywriter at now-defunct Farfar. He and his team won for building the World's Biggest Signpost. And because he was forthright about his achievement, I know about him and now so do you.