Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Will women ever be able to have a decent media career? Or is the party over when you want a life as well?

Today I´ll publish a piece directly from AdNews, because it needs to be read. It´s about how male the culture is in advertising/media and should be seen as a sign of how unhealthy this industry can be...
These are my opinions on the topic, when reporting from the gender discussion at Cannes Lion: http://howwemove.blogspot.com/2011/06/shockingly-awful-gender-discussion-at.html
"OPINION: I struggle to see myself in a senior role, says female exec
29 Aug 2011
I've received lots of emails and phone calls from female media executives following Friday's opinion piece 'A Question of Gender'.

Here's one response from a female media executive in her early 20s, who allowed me to publish the note she sent me, but wishes to remain anonymous.

Firstly, I must point out that I have some inspiring male colleagues who offer guidance and encouragement, so I wouldn’t consider myself a 'male-basher'. But, I was fascinated when the
AdNews Power 50 list came out. As a young(ish) female working media agency side, I struggle to envision myself working at a very senior level, as I have limited role models to emulate and seek advice from.

Additionally, the expectation that ‘the client always comes first’ infers that by taking time out from your role for maternity leave or child care, means that you are not prioritising the needs of your clients, therefore performing at a less committed level. AdNews touched on the
boozy, long-hours culture prevalent in some businesses, and I would completely agree this is a barrier to women.

I've lost count of the number of times myself and other female colleagues have felt excluded at events and team bonding opportunities because we are physically unable to ingest the same amount of alcohol as our male counterparts. It's ridiculous. Yet, across the board in both Sydney and Melbourne there are more female media planners and campaign executives than males in the same positions.

The anecdotes mentioned in the “Question of Gender” article seem endless – being asked if a sick leave request is for ‘women problems’, the offensive language in the industry where ‘c**ts’ seems to be an acceptable form of insult, the assumptions that when a male and female walk into a meeting, the male must be the more senior member of staff.

These issues are of course not limited to this industry, but seem to be more established and tolerated. I’ve worked with many hard-working male colleagues, and I certainly wouldn’t suggest that one gender works harder than the other.

But when I look around my current and previous offices, and see so many females in middle to low ranked positions, and only a few females in senior roles (all child-free), I wonder why I have chosen to work in an industry that might talk the talk, but not follow through with visible change.

From a middle management perspective, what can I do to change this imbalance? Keep working 70-hour weeks in service to my clients until I want to take time off to start a family – working this job on a part-time basis is practically impossible. How can I honestly tell my female junior execs that they can reach any position they want when to do so would require a decision that should never be laid on the table, but sadly is; career or family.

Over the coming years, there will be a bottle-neck of talent coming through for senior positions. I’ll be interested to see what happens when a number of females are up for a limited amount of positions that don’t facilitate an adequate work/life balance. Surely the result can only be talent exiting the industry?

The author of this piece wishes to remain anonymous

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The opinion piece Darren Davidson wrote last week: http://www.adnews.com.au/adnews/a-question-of-gender
This is actually not unique to the media/advertising industry, but I´ve seen the same need of high commitment levels in the political world and in church. If you are not in full on, devoting every part of your life to the group, you are seen as not truly "one of us". Most of my old buddies from politics who now run Sweden have been drinking together since we were all in our early teens. They married each other, socialise with each other and work with each other. That´s how success is gained - show that you´re loyal and you´ll be trusted and protected.
The same goes for the ad world. Hence, I speak to women who tell me they can´t go to the gym after work because they need to be at the office when the big bosses come back from their trip to the pub at 8 pm and want a meeting. Sigh.
But who cares? Are the big bosses thinking "can the women stop whinging and start fitting in"?

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