Wednesday, January 12, 2011

one show, one body type

Frank Rose did an excellent roundup and analysis of the One Club's fun fling at MOMA last night celebrating their picks for best of the Digital Decade. So I won't try to reiterate here. I'd just like to add that my own observation was how very few women mounted the stage. Most acceptances were from teams in skinny ties and dark suits, like those shown here for BMW's The Hire. (9 out of 10 on stage, interestingly, no longer work at the agency, Fallon.)

I have no beef with the many talented guys who gathered last night to accept their due. But I suspect that consumers might be better served if the ad world was led by more than a smattering of creatives like Nancy Vonk and Janet Kestin of Ogilvy/Toronto, who were among the few females honored, for Dove's Evolution.

Why do so many fewer women than men manage to prevail in creative fields like Adland? I'm convinced it's not just that guys want to play with their kind. It's that often women's drive gets deflected before the game is over. Their priorities shift, their goals are realigned by lifechanging events such as having a child (or trying to), their focus is splintered by encroaching demands inherent in juggling a worklife and life. I'm a perfect example of this. Twenty-four years ago, the then-hot shop Scali, McCabe, Sloves granted me a generous six month maternity leave. But a baby proved the toughest boss I'd ever had, and to preserve flexibility in meeting her needs, I went back as a freelancer.

Times have changed, happily, in that men are assuming more active roles in bringing up baby. (See alpha dads.) Being relieved of 100% responsibility for raising a family is essential if women are to achieve workplace success. But what's also essential is that they manage not to relinquish the drive and passion that launched them as interns.

There's a lot of talk lately about the necessities and benefits of cross-pollinating disparate brains around conference room tables. Yet, too often, the brains are of homogenous gender. Attendance at the table requires time and exertion and acknowledgement that it's important to be there. Belly up, ad broads. Yes, we can.


Howie said...

Coming from some Male dominated industries I have seen first hand male managers feeling threatened by women and have seen the glass ceiling which is complete BS especially when so many talented women abound. I had a mentor in my early years whom coworkers called a bitch because this woman had to be so much more forceful to get ahead and look after her team.

So don't give short shrift to men trying to block women from advancing. That said it blows my mind how many chauvinist misogynist men want to work with just men. Uhm....the fact you Mr. Customer wanted me (Acct Rep) to take you to lunch at hooters (denied btw) then don't want to work with women? Something is wrong here LOL

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Thanks for weighing in, Howie. It's a fraught topic, I know. Glass ceilings and misogynism are well known blockades to female advancement, but I wanted to air my suspicion that it's not *always* guys holding us back, sometimes we need to push our selves to step up to the plate. Would that more girls were taught what guys seem to know: that it's often better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

jeff kwiatek said...

There was a great TED talk about this that I watched yesterday. Seems it's a problem in all industries, not just advertising.

This is the link to that talk by Sheryl Sandberg: Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Thanks, Jeff. I know the problem, unfortunately, isn't limited to our biz. What a great link. Luv the talk. Sandberg's words wield even more power coming from COO of a $50B corporation.

California Girl said...

My toughest boss was a Regional VP of a group of primo radio stations in the southeast. She climbed the ladder the old fashioned way, from secretary to promotions to sales to management. She had the great good fortune to have male and female mentors who believed in her. She was the smartest marketer/promoter/broadcaster with whom I have worked in 30 years and I have worked with some very good people. I respected her but never wanted to be her. She believed you had to work twice as hard as a man and the business came first.

She gave me a copy of her 1980 speec to the Carolina Broadcasters Assn or possibly AWRT in NC I can't remember and it was a doozy: being a woman in the male dominant world of broadcasting and making it. This being said, she wasn't always there for her six children whom I felt were needy and left too much to their own devices.

AS for me, she gave me alot of great opportunities and helped me make the most of them. I loved that place. It was always a challenge and brought out the best in me.

It ain't easy. I cut way back after my second child. They take a toll and you have to know what you're willing to sacrifice. My children came first. When I got back into the game, the corporations were taking over and it was consolidate city and not much fun any more.

I have heard the percentage of top managers in radio broadcasting is currently around 16%. That's exactly what it was when I went to work for my aforementioned boss in 1983.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Wow, what a powerhouse your old boss sounds like, California Girl. I'd love to see that 1980 speech. And...six kids??!!! You could probably sell this storyline to Hollywood.

Srsly, I agree about mothers moving up the ladder--you have to know what you're willing to sacrifice. The only way more mothers will make it to corner offices is if their partners prove willing to jobshare at home.