Gender Segregation in Advertising Creative Departments Across the World

Using data from the 2013 Red Books to investigate the lack of gender diversity in creative departments across 50 countries, my co-author and I recently published our findings in Advertising & Society Review. Our work is anchored by system’s theory, with a specific focus on creative process. We demonstrate powerful vertical and horizontal sex segregation – and for the first time quantify the underrepresentation of women in advertising creative departments using industry data. In the end we found that globally women make up only 20.3% of all creatives and represent only 14.6% of all creative directors. Ouch!

Global Gender Distribution

Gender

Creative staff

CD

AD

CW

Female

20.3%

14.6%

18.7%

22.2%

Male

79.7%

85.4%

81.3%

77.8%

Total

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

Creativity is not an isolated process. It is influenced by internal and external culture. So too is it influenced by creative directors, who consciously or unconsciously exert pressure on creatives to succumb to the systemic norms. In advertising creative departments, these norms are inherently colored by a masculine ethos. Our study strongly suggests that in highly sex-segregated countries creative women are too often token additions to creative departments, if they exist at all. Further, gender stereotypes are often reinforced by a gendered-bound advertising creative system, which has been shipped across the world for consumption and replication.

To quote the conclusion of our article, “the underrepresentation of women in advertising creative departments compromises not just the creative process. The lack of women in advertising creative departments compromises creativity itself. Thus, in the end, this is not a gender problem. This is a business problem, a problem that advertising agencies ignore at their own peril.”

Jean

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Filed under advertising agencies, culture, women

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