“It’s a Tide ad.”
“We’re the superhumans.”
“Exclusive the rainbow.”
What do these campaigns all have in common?
They all won a gazillion awards, yes, but more importantly, there are talented female creatives behind these campaigns. And yet very few people know about this second point.
Why isn’t there enough focus on female creatives?
In an industry that talks about gender more than ever—one that has multiplied the number of gender initiatives, tripled the number of panels talking about diversity and flooded us with stats we can recite from memory—why does female talent still have very little visibility in our industry? And more importantly, why we don’t focus on the talent-side of female talent?
If the women behind those amazing campaigns are still not visible enough, is it fair to say that our overall gender approach might be a bit gender biased, too?
We often say having more female creatives in creative departments will change the way that women are represented in society. The representation aspect is valid, but we can’t look at women solely as guardians and gatekeepers of gender representation. Both men and women in the ad industry are equally responsible for that.
Are we somehow stereotypical by stating that we need more women in the industry because they influence most of the purchases and not because of their creative genius? It feels like we need a selling pitch for all these amazing women to be part of this industry when that shouldn’t be the case. And to the ones that make it, we should stop framing them as “bad-ass” women. That narrative reinforces stereotypes about brilliance and creativity, implying that to excel at your job you need to aggressive and have masculine traits.
Yes, to all initiatives; let’s keep them coming. But it’s also paramount to start making the gender conversation a creative one, too. Otherwise, we are giving the wrong message to the industry. Your agency needs more female creatives not because it looks bad in the press release to have all male new hires, but because female creatives are good at their jobs. If we ignore the talent-side of this equation, we keep on fueling the narrative that women are somehow less creative than their male counterparts.
We should be obsessed with the women behind those credits. We should be asking countless questions about their work, where they get their inspiration from, what drives them. Instead, every time they get interviewed, they get asked how they overcame the challenge of being a female creative. By doing that, we keep on completely ignoring their talent.
We need to start treating them equally and ask them about creativity, too. Because these fantastic creatives are the ones junior creatives will look up to. They can’t look up to a stat or a problem, but to the creative point of view of someone that looks and sounds like them.
It’s time to start looking at the talent behind the numbers, champion and celebrate female creativity and make room in the industry to discuss their creative genius. And by doing so, more women will get hired, promoted, recognized and inspired.
Let’s make sure female creatives feel empowered to start talking about themselves as equals in the creative conversation and put creativity in the gender agenda. It’s time to change the narrative we speak to ourselves in. The ad industry will follow.