The increased visibility of gender issues in society has inspired a trend amongst marketing companies for female empowerment. Marketers are working with clients, developing advertising which advocates equality for female consumers. Yet despite this trend for femvertisng, a closer inspection of the departments where ads are made reveals little progress has been made towards gender equality for the women working inside creative advertising. Clearly, something in Adland doesn’t add up. This study considers whether this stems from women’s thwarted attempts to establish a leadership identity within strongly-gendered cultures where they are subject to established practices. This is explored through interviews with 30 female creatives from the US, UK, and mainland Europe. Based on the findings, the paper presents three over-arching themes: vision; voice; and visibility, which together represent the challenges women experience in developing a leadership identity, but also suggest the opportunities for agencies to increase the influence of female creatives. If the advertising industry’s claims to represent society are to be taken seriously, it must move beyond empowering female consumers, to similarly empower its female creatives and achieve greater gender equality in the industry.
- Female empowerment
- creative directors