Gender in Advertising

Guest Post by: Jessica Ayala

When I first processed what this course was going to consist of, I was hesitant to take it. I felt scared about what I would be learning, as it applies to something that I identify with and embrace each day: being a woman. I chose to go with my gut and I’m happy I did. “Gender in Advertising” is a sensitive topic because it targets the misconceptions and ignorance that has become so prominent in the creative industry and society. But these are the kinds of courses in which I learn so much and feel better prepared about the path I’m on.


The first topic that hit me the most is Nina DiSesa’s book “Seducing the Boys Club.” DiSesa is BOLD. She suggests that women should act more like men because men feel comfortable with their own kind, and the more someone reminds a man of himself, the more comfortable he is. This is the way women can achieve “success.” I still struggle with her suggestion on seducing men without sex and manipulating them without malice. The language she used stirred up mixed emotions in me and I ended up counteracting her argument. Seducing your male coworkers is not the way to “make it” in the creative industry. In fact, many creative women never even considered that tactic and managed to be successful just by being themselves. As women, we should never be someone we are simply not. Everyone is wired for success. Possessing gender-specific qualities should not determine that.

I love Sheryl Sandburg. She brought a more positive and attractive light to gender in advertising. How? By being realistic, hopeful, and hard-working. She recognizes how hard it is to manage a career and motherhood, she thanks the past activists who battled for women’s rights, she points out that men still run the world, she learned to be vocal about what she deserves, and she argues that internal obstacles are what hold women back. Sandburg gave me hope, as she also shares advice about developing professional relationships and asking for raises. She uses her vulnerability to support the fact that anyone can do it: women can and deserve to sit at the table. I love that phrasing. Again, everyone is wired for success, and your dream job, whether it’s being a stay-at-home mom or a working professional, can get you there as long as you lean in…all the way.


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