Today's marketing industry is filled with prominent female leaders, whether they're conference keynote speakers, chief marketing officers or digital marketing managers. It's easy to look around and forget that this equal footing didn't always exist.
Women in marketing had to fight an uphill battle to reach the positions of power they enjoy today. As the marketing world has been transformed by new innovations in recent decades, it has also been infused with strong leadership and expertise from women who are getting the opportunities they deserve. There's more work to be done to create a truly equitable professional environment, but the progress made in recent years is encouraging for the future of the marketing industry.
History of Unfair Treatment
The "Mad Men" era of business and advertising exposed deep gender biases haunted the advertising and marketing industries for decades to come. As The New York Times reported, it was rare to find women in executive leadership roles for years.
Some executives who did rise to the top of their companies have noted that they had to be careful about how they presented themselves in the workplace. This meant controlling their emotions more than men were expected to, tempering their anger and enduring unfair treatment that men weren't subjected to.
Even though conditions have improved dramatically over the years, the effects of this inequity are still visible. Many executive boardrooms and marketing leadership positions are filled by men, while women only comprise a minority. Women who do rise to these top ranks have taken an active role in paving the path for others.
Grabbing Thought Leadership by the Horns
One of the most visible ways women have taken a leading role is through thought leadership. The rise of the internet created a platform for anyone to build their reputation and establish themselves as experts in a certain field. This has helped create opportunities for women to taking leading roles in fast-innovating fields, like marketing.
Today, the marketing industry features a number of prominent female executives and experts. One of content marketing's most visible experts is Ann Handley, who has a background as a marketing executive, blogger and published author. Additionally, a new generation of aspiring female marketers and executives have been inspired by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg's book, "Lean In," which amplified the professional discourse of gender inequality and offered encouragement and guidance to help other women rise in the ranks of their organizations.
Changing the Game
Gradually, these leading executives redefine the role of women in marketing. Incremental change takes place at the micro level, and it begins with women receiving equal pay as their male counterparts, as well as having the same chances of advancing through the company.
Outside of the organization, women should be prominently featured as panelists and keynote speakers at industry-wide marketing events. Networking with other women also provides a strong base of support and assistance in navigating various professional challenges.
As Forbes noted, women already outnumber men in media agencies and in strategic planning positions, and organizations led by women will have an eye toward creating a truly equitable work environment. This lends credence to the belief that this improving gender gap will continue to close in the future.