Finding female speakers for conferences about advertising is not a very easy task. At all.
Late this summer, Nancy Hill of the 4As had a (publicly) terrible time of recruiting female speakers, despite the fact that she is a woman. The original list of speakers had just 3 women, compared to 16 men (and was called out by Cindy Gallop, among others), resulting in a letter than Hill wrote on the 4As website demanding that women "Speak Up":
"You would think that women would jump at the chance [to speak] just like men do. Is it because we feel the need to focus on our current jobs, our own companies? Our families? Is it because there are so few senior females that they get recruited so much more frequently than men?"
The plea must have worked, because the final list for the 4As had a slightly more respectable 7 women, to 19 men (even if Nancy Hill herself was one of the 7).
Last week's 3% Conference boasting (count 'em) a whopping 41 female speakers, deserves a huge round of applause. The list included some pretty big names:
Cindy Gallop, started BBH NY & was named 2003 Advertising Woman of the Year
Margaret Johnson, ECD & Associate Partner at Goodby
Colleen DeCourcy, CEO + founder of Socialistic, founder of Organic, ex-Chief Digital Officer at TBWA
Susan Hoffman, Employee No. 8 and now ECD at Wieden
A WOMAN copywriter sold the “I <3 New York” campaign in the 70s. She was working at Wells Rich Greene at the time, and worked with graphic designer Milton Glaser (who did the work pro bono, thinking it would only run for a few months) to get the campaign sold to the city.
Her name was Jane Maas, and she’s also written a book, Mad Women, at the spring-chicken age of 80. (check it out in hard copy or iPad-style)
What if the reason there aren't more females in creative departments, is because the women that are there have always been happy to be one of the boys?
That's one of the many good points that Colleen DeCourcy (ex-Organic CEO and current Socialistic CEO - who I had the priviledge of working with inbetween) made in DigiDay's Confessions of a Female Ad Execa few weeks ago.
But the plot thickened when DeCourcy revealed her identity, and brought back this eye-opening,-but-not-at-all-surprising paragraph that was originally part of the piece:
There are, of course, crudely sexist moments. Here are two special quotes from my career that never fail to materialize when I close my eyes to fall asleep in whatever far-flung hotel I’m sleeping in tonight. “I like that necklace, I could choke you with it while I fuck you from behind,” I was told. After a none-too-pleased response came the capper from this guy: “You’re not offended are you?! We only say those things because we forget you’re not one of us. It’s a compliment!” Really.
And now, in response to the stories that DeCourcy got in response, she has made a home for the stories (which she says have come from minorities of all kinds).
So, got a confession of your own? Well, share it like your momma taught you.
My guess is most women shy away from putting their name on the door because it's a tad egotistical, and it pretty immediately breaks down the idea that "we're all responsible for the work that is made here".
But hey, maybe we should have started this blog as Morrisey, Totten & Peters. (Although that would now have to be Whigham, Aspinwall & Peters - which might be another reason women aren't as apt to tie everything to a name.)