Where are all the Donna Drapers?

On Thursday, September 12, 2013 POSSIBLE Seattle sponsored and hosted a stop on the 3% Conference roadshow, which is a movement to raise awareness and change the ratio. This was an important evening with Kat Gordon and a panel of local creative leaders, including Ray Page, Executive Creative Director for POSSIBLE Seattle, Danielle Trivisonno Hawley, Group Creative Director for POSSIBLE Seattle, Cal McAllister, Co-Founder and CEO of Wexley School for Girls and Mary Knight, Executive Creative Director at Hydrogen Advertising, moderated by Lindy West of Jezebel, to discuss how we all can support more women in our industry. 

 The event was a success with a sold-out crowd of mostly female creative types – 120 in all – and a few brave men. During Kat’s keynote – Where are all the Donna Drapers - she shared some staggering numbers with the crowd. As stated in this Seattle Times piece about the event, “drinks were a good thing considering what Palo Alto ad executive Kat Gordon was about to tell them.”

Despite the facts that women are leading adopters of technology, leading users of social media, and make up the majority of gamers, they still only make up 3% of the creative directors at ad agencies – a statistic that has not improved in the past 30 years. GULP. This is obviously bad for business in every way when you consider that women control $13 trillion of the world’s $18.4 trillion in consumer spending. Women influence 80% of household spending decisions + have veto power over the remaining 20%. (Yes, I make the list for my husband and he does the shopping.) It doesn’t take much to connect the dots here - supporting more women in creative leadership roles is good business. Period.

The event then transitioned into the panel discussion, brilliantly moderated by Lindy West. Many thought-provoking and controversial questions were raised that inevitably left the audience wanting more. More answers, more change, more women in creative. We all walked away with a lot on our minds, but my main take away is that we can all do our part to change the ratio:

  • Men | Get comfortable with discomfort; hire, promote, & champion women; rethink what defines breakthrough work.
  • Women | Speak up about poor diversity at your agency (and remember, how you do this is just as important); don’t hide your femaleness as a liability, but instead showcase it as an asset; learn to present with confidence; mentor other women.
  • Clients | Demand female representation on your account; rethink your demands – this isn’t the ER.
  • EVERYONE | Learn the basics of marketing to women. The days of ‘pink it and shrink it’ are long gone, or at least they should be.

If you’re interested in taking this further, there are still spots available at the two-day 3% Conference in San Francisco, October 16-17 and please continue the conversation online with us. POSSIBLE is proud to sponsor this event. I’ll be there with several other POSSIBLE representatives from around the US, and we hope to see you there.


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