I'm a recent graduate and am currently job hunting for a junior art director position at agencies that do work that inspires me. I was having a job hunting discussion with an employed friend, and he made a remark about how I would probably get hired 'because' I'm a woman and that it's more interesting for the men upstairs to have some females around the male dominated agency. I thought he was joking at first but he looked so serious and explained that it's just how it works. I guess I'm just hoping to confirm that my role as a female will empower me, but that my ideas, enthusiasm and drive are what will get me the job. Is the industry that shallow and chauvinistic, or can I remain hopeful that there is still integrity and a strong desire to do amazing creative work without allowing gender to interfere with that?
Am I just being naive?
Hoo boy, ye who writes, you open a large, creepy can of worms.
The idea that your presence might be more "interesting" to the gents upstairs is surprising to me, cause that's what traffic and media young-slender-things are for. Generally, what I've heard in my career is--disappointingly--that there is a quota of sorts to fill in the creative department. Creative departments lack women, therefore they want women. It's just the way things are. I have often, in fact, asked myself if my success in this business is based on my brain or, in part, my vagina.
This is not the conversation I hoped to have in public, fyi.
Listen, your role as a woman WILL empower you. You have something the men don't. And quite honestly, what the women don't, either. You have you. You are unique and your own brand, and in your brand lies your ideas, your enthusiasm, your drive and, guess what else: your female instinct. Which, combined, will allow you to interview THEM as much as they're interviewing YOU. All these qualities can be your friend, can help you sniff out the shallow, chauvinistic ones (yes, they do exist) and say "sorry, not interested" and let you pursue the ones that recognize you for the right reasons. Your brains. Your talent. Your capabilities. Your possibilities.
One day you will find an agency who appreciates you for all these things and exploits you just like they do to every man in the house. Amen for that. I think.
- Ellen Steinberg