If you do a Google Image search for ‘advertising creative director’, this is what comes up:

 

It’s the ‘face’ of the industry: white, male, in black T-shirts. But does it have to be this way? Here, Ali Hanan, creative director and founder of Creative Equals, offers five practical suggestions for how we can get more women to the top.

Currently, writes Ali Hanan, only 11% of the world’s advertising creative directors are female. A recent study shows 70% of female creatives work in a department with a 75-25% male to female spilt. So as a female creative in your first job, you’re often the token woman in the corner.

And, as you look up, there are few female creative directors to mentor you. In London, only 14% of creative directors are women, which is maybe why 90% of young female creatives say they lack role models, according to the study by the Young Creative Council and Creative Equals, a new initiative to tackle the gender divide. Studies show men tend to mentor junior male talent or ‘people like me’, so male talent is earmarked for leadership roles early on – and with so few female creative mentors, young female talent misses out.

So how do we change as an industry? Here are five key areas we can tackle now.

1. Put female creatives on juries – and on stage

Look at many of the jury panels in the industry. Some you’ll see with a few ‘token’ women judges or in worst-case scenarios no women at all. Creative Equals is calling for all juries and awards speakers to be as balanced as possible and that imagery from the event needs to reflect diversity (to see it at its worst, check the Tumblr Too Many Guys One Girl, which has received some media attention of late). One of the reasons given for not having female judges is so few women are ‘known names’. This creates a double bind. If they’re never seen, they’re never ‘known’.

As ECD of Cheil, Caitlyn Ryan, says: “There is little point being the only different voice or view in the room – it needs to be closer to 50/50. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the most awarded work in our industry is usually sports brands, beer and or male grooming products. Ads that are made by and for young men. Guess who’s judging the work – young men. Perhaps men should start refusing to sit on juries where there is less than at least 30% women.”