I read with interest your analysis on Neil French’s comments and sexism in advertising (“French’s outburst triggers fresh debate on sexism”, MW October 27). It is worth noting that the trend of few women achieving senior roles is not just limited to advertising – it is noticeable across all marketing disciplines, my own included.
Having worked in direct marketing for nearly 20 years, I have noticed that it is not just in the creative departments that women are underrepresented in senior roles. From my observations of account handling, the male/female split is about 50/50. However, looking at senior level positions (board directors and above), this shifts to about 90/10.
It is doubtful that French’s theory of women who “wimp out and go and suckle something” alone accounts for the imbalance, though it is certainly true that women can feel pressured to reduce their hours or leave their career altogether to spend time with their families.
Marketing is predominantly a young industry, however; many of those at board level are men who have worked their way up the ladder and
are now, in their forties and fifties, at the top of their careers.
It is high time that the industry addressed this traditional inequality and helped the many talented women in marketing to achieve their full potential. As Debbie Klein, then head of planning at WCRS, stated, “Good ideas don’t have genitals”. Neither should the ability to deal with board-level business decisions.