Why are there so few female ECDs and CMOs?

Simone DrewryIn this guest post, Mango MD Simone Drewry explains why her curated session at Mumbrella360 will focus on the lack of women in senior roles in the communications industry.

Less than 10% of corporate leaders are women and only 3% are in creative leadership positions such as executive creative director and chief marketing officer. Why have creative women been unable achieve success at these levels? Are they less creative than men?  

A 2008 study of American creative agencies by Karen Mallia at the University of South Carolina identified why women succeed in creative leadership roles and why many don’t make it past mid level positions, despite talented women graduating university and portfolio courses in equal and greater numbers than men.

The reasons include

  • Cultural perception of women as strong leaders
  • Management and organizational culture – employing like for like, men recruiting men
  • Nature of the industry – long hours, inflexible working environments
  • Demonstrating specific skill sets outside of job description – understanding politics, self promotion, leadership skills
  • Personal factors – number one factor, motherhood (of the top six female ECDs in the USA in 2009, four had stay-at-home husbands and two had no children)

Not once was there evidence, real or perceived, that women are less creative than men.

The conclusion is for many it’s just too ‘effin hard! There needs to be a seismic shift in attitude and working environments if we are to see change.

I welcome your questions for the debate. Please post them here.

  • The session – Mad Men and Mad Women – takes place on June 8, the second day of Mumbrella360. Chaired by Simone Drewry, the session also features McDonald’s COO Helen Nash, Communications Council board member Lindsey Evans, Y&R Brands CEO Russel Howcroft and Sandra Hook, CEO of News Magazines. Details of the conference are avialable on the Mumbrella360 website.


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