Advertising: should creative women be expected to ‘fake it?’

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Gender imbalance in the advertising industry remains a cause for concern. A lack of senior women hinders advertising’s ability to reflect diversity in society, leading some to question whether the industry is now fit for purpose. Why do so few women reach creative leadership? Previous literature found women engage in lower levels of impression management (IM). However, our findings suggest that female creatives are actively employing IM behaviours. Drawing on twenty-five interviews with female creative directors, we find women are ‘faking’ behaviours to both fit in and stand out within the strongly gendered environment of advertising. Yet, these coping strategies can cause internal conflict, driving some women to leave, or become disillusioned. We provide managerial implications to suggest how advertising agencies, clients and female creatives can work together to facilitate the retention and progression of more women within creative departments, and increase their influence over the ads that get made.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Marketing Management
Early online date8 Jan 2020
Publication statusEarly online - 8 Jan 2020


  • Advertising industry
  • Impression management
  • women


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