Why are there so few women Creative Directors? Is 3percentconf.com the solution?

Crispin's Tiffany Rolfe ponders this and offers as solution at Creativity.

Women are hardwired to kick ass and nurture at the same time. But unfortunately the advertising business isn't known for nurturing. It's competitive, it's fast and it's filled with insecurities. We don't want to be replaced by the newer, younger, better model. But maybe if we were better mentors for young people, they'd see a reason to keep us around when we were past our prime. If there is one type of person who could both juggle their own life/work balance, as well as nurture new creatives, it's women. Think about it -- if every female creative in a management role could mentor and promote just five other women, each of those can help five more, and onward, and before long we'll be in the hundreds. Call it a pay-it-forward meritocracy. This starts to change how we think of our accomplishments. We start basing our personal success on how successful other women are as well. Women at my creative level, including myself, get caught up in feeling that part of our success is based on the fact that we made it in an industry where we shouldn't have -- that maybe we got there because we have a guy's sense of humor or because we're tougher. Or maybe because we don't have kids. That's wrong. We made it because we are great creatives and great leaders. And having a fulfilled life can only help our work.

And in the comments, Katherine Gordon steps up to the plate with an even better idea. It's the clients should change their attitudes.


Tiffany, this is an issue near and dear to my heart. I, too, am part of the elusive 3% of female creative directors. What makes this riddle even more perplexing is that I run an ad agency that specializes in marketing to women. I see firsthand how imperative it is to connect with women in order to capture the $20 trillion worldwide women control annually.

Female consumers report high levels of dissatisfaction with the way brands market to them. I submit it's at least partially due to the fact that brands are using work created -- or greenlighted -- almost entirely by men. I agree with your comments about mentorship, but I think that's only a small part of the solution. I believe brands are the key to creating real change at the agency level. We need to make brands understand the necessity of having women in the creative ranks of their agencies. Brands pay the bill. They are the ones who have the power to demand gender equity on their creative teams, having questioned the effectiveness of male groupthink to motivating an overwhelmingly female marketplace. I believe so whole-heartedly that this is the way to make long-overdue change that I am building a conference to start the ball rolling. The 3% Conference (www.3percentconf.com) is the first-ever Marketing to Women Conference for Men. Female creative directors and other thought-leaders will showcase campaigns they've created that have helped brands prosper with women consumers. The audience (largely male brand managers, product managers and VPs of Marketing) will see first-hand the business value of women in advertising.

So, yes, I do think that women can change this industry for other women. But I think men -- what I call "Guys Who Get It" -- can help turn the tide, perhaps much faster.

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