When Is Enough, Enough?

Guest Post: Paige McDonald, Aspiring Strategic Communications Professional

Like a large majority of other women, I could go on forever about how much it disgusts me that Donald Trump not only SPOKE of sexually assaulting another human being, but BRAGGED about it. Truly, the sound of his voice on that tape haunts me to a degree that makes my skin crawl and my stomach flip. Unfortunately, there are a number of women in my life whom I hold very close to my heart, who have been victims of the kinds of sexual assault that a potential future leader of our country boasted about. These women are strong, intelligent, courageous, and beautiful, and they were left to feel weak, ashamed, and powerless. As I sat and watched the tape that the Washington Post released of Donald Trump on October 7th, I thought of these women. I thought of how undeserved their pain and their strife on their road to recovery was. A road that they never wanted to or planned on taking. A road that seemed to have an endless number of “no outlet” signs. Then, I thought of the countless number of other women who have been forced to go through the same exact thing, often times simply because they are a woman. This is when I truly reached my breaking point. Time and time again throughout my mere 21 years of life, I have watched women of all kinds be made to feel as if their sole sense of worth can and should be found in the way that they look and the body that they possess.

I have a mother who divorced my unemployed, alcoholic father and raised my sister and I in a two-bedroom apartment on a retail salary. She gave us a roof over our heads when we very well could have been left without one. She endured undeserved anger from both of her daughters who did not understand why their family had been torn apart. She taught me the value of hard work and what it means to be part of a family.

How could anyone look at her and say that her value as a person is in the curve of her waist?

I have an aunt who radiates unconditional love and has never put herself first. I watched her as she took care of her father when he became too tired and frail to do it himself. I watched her sneak groceries into my family’s kitchen when money was extra tight, but never search for any recognition. I watched her show love and support to any and every person who is lucky enough to know her without ever demanding anything in return.

How could anyone look at her and say that her value as a person is in her dress size?

I have a sister who is braver, stronger, and more vigilant than anyone else that I know. She taught me the importance of standing up for myself, but also how much more important it is to stand up for the people that we love. She made feel courageous in the face of conflict when nobody else could, and there are few feelings as important as feeling worth standing up for.

How could anyone look at her and say that her value as a person is in her long legs?

To me, Donald Trump is the face of these problems. He is the face that I associate with women all over the world not feeling good enough because they aren’t what the media tells them is worthwhile. He is the face that I associate with women being afraid to “drink too much at a party” for fear of being taken advantage of. He is the face that I associate with not feeling safe to walk alone at night on the streets of any city simply because I am a woman.

While the relentless media coverage of candidates throughout the election process becomes draining, to me, this is what it is here for. If this is not its saving grace in the process than what is? If as citizens we are forced to look at a face every day, are we not entitled to know exactly what it is the face of?


Happy Labor Day

I always remember my father with fondness on this day because of his tenacious embrace of the labor movement.

As the American economy becomes more and more service based we may forget labor’s historical gravity. The first Labor Day celebration was on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, promoted by the Central Labor Union. The Union held its second Labor Day celebration the next year on September 5, 1883. Labor Day has been celebrated on the first Monday of September ever since. Its launch came at a time when America was moving into the industrial revolution and the conditions of workers were often difficult.

My dad, a WWII vet, frequently teased me about Rosie the Riveter and powerful women. I was young and didn’t understand how much her iconic image meant to him. I’m guessing that in some small (and not so small) ways I must have reminded him of the power she signified. Doing a little research on her image this morning, I learned a few things I didn’t know before.

There were two iconic Rosies.

Rosie Riveter norman rockwellThe first Rosie – the one most of us remember – was painted by J. Howard Miller. He was commissioned by Westinghouse to make a series of posters promoting the war effort. Miller inspired the Saturday Evening Post, whose covers tended toward civic inspiration. With WWII raging the Post hired Norman Rockwell. Rockwell’s Rosie appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post (May 29, 1943). It was the Memorial Day issue. She’s muscular and dressed for a hard day’s work, just like the Rosie most of us might recall. We also know she’s Rosie because of the name inscribed on her lunch pail. However, what might surprise many of you, as it did me, this Rosie is stepping on a copy of Adolph Hitler’s book Mein Kampf. Now this is serious symbolic propaganda.

We_Can_Do_It! J. Howard MillerOn the heels of Post’s highly successful cover, stories about real life Rosies began appearing in newspapers across America. The U.S. government took advantage of Rosie’s popularity and embarked on a recruiting campaign named after her. The campaign, done by J. Walter Thompson under the auspices of the Advertising Council, used J. Howard Miller’s Rosie. The campaign brought millions of women into the workforce. To this day, Rosie the Riveter is considered one of the most successful government advertising campaign in history. On May 25, 2012 the Ad Council threw a 70th Birthday Bash for Rosie, noting that Rosie the Riveter remains an enduring emblem of empowerment for women everywhere.

Dad, thanks for teaching me the value of a hard day’s work. I miss you.

Happy Labor Day everyone!


“Happy” Equal Pay Day

According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, women in the United States are paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to men. The pay gap – an average of $10,762 annually. This hurts to write.

For women of color it’s even worse. African American women are paid 60 cents for every dollar paid to White men. Latinas are paid just 55 cents for every dollar paid to White men. For Asian American women, it’s a little less painful. They are paid 84 cents for every dollar paid to White men. This is shameful to write.

Equal PaySupport pay equity.

Support the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Support your mother, your sister, your friends and your family.

Support women.


The Trend

Guest Post by: Tessa Danielson

Women in leadership is a hot topic right now. I’ve seen it trend on Twitter, it’s been mentioned by many of my friends on Facebook, and there are plenty of articles about it circulating on LinkedIn. The current popularity of the topic is (without a doubt in my mind) in part due to the upcoming presidential election and the talk of multiple women being poised to run. For the first time I am seeing articles upon articles with the topic of women running for president. I’ve seen articles covering which women have spoken about running, who the author thinks should run, which women wouldn’t surprise them if they ran, and even articles about why a woman could be just as good a leader as a man. Wait….what?

I’m not talking about the satirical articles, I’m talking about the serious articles. I’m sure the authors had the best intentions in mind while writing these articles…but, really? I’m not sure if it’s more upsetting that 1) people feel the need to explain that women can be leaders or 2) people actually need to hear it. These women who have worked tirelessly to get where they are today, who have accomplished so much, and who have become public figures have to not only gain support for their policies but also have to convince the US that women can be leaders? Really, society? After years of civil rights battles and women’s suffrage, this is how far we’ve come? This disturbing reality begs the question: how can this be changed? It’s simple really: the environment needs to change.

DanielsonLet’s focus on ad agencies creative departments where the gender gap happens to be huge. Women leaders here are few and far between. It has been blamed on many factors but the gist of it is this: women are not staying long enough to become leaders. If the environment in which someone is working is hostile, unfriendly, and sexist, why would any woman stay? Maybe if 10, 30, or 50 more women stuck it out and became leaders it would enact change. But who can blame them for leaving? When an environment is unkind to change, it will also be unkind to those trying to change it.

Disappointingly, this seems to be fairly representative of society at large. Not for lack of trying or determination or qualifications, women get to a certain point and then are pushed out of the conversation or decide that their efforts are better used elsewhere. There is something to be said for “leaning in,” as Cheryl Sandberg puts it, but if the environment a woman in leaning into is sexist, the disadvantage faced may be too great to overcome alone.

Sheryl Sandberg has said, “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” Personally, I can’t wait for this day. But until then, I’m pretty sure that in this environment, if a woman can convince the majority of society that she can lead as well as a man, she can do anything.

Dear Clients. I can make you a lot of money. Just watch.

Guest Post by: Kelly Rasmussen, Aspiring Art DirectorRasmussen

Money. You want to make more of it.

I know how.

I have your attention, and maybe you are a bit skeptical, but here’s how you, the client, can reach your target better, sell more, and overall improve your brand image…


Don’t believe me? Let’s break it down. Women make up roughly 80-85% of consumers. Women in Advertising Creative, they only make up 20%.

So, who is coming up with the ‘award winning ad campaigns’ that will appeal to women?

Men. Now I’m an advertising major, and not too great at science, but I’m pretty sure the people who know women and their buying habits the best, are other women. You may argue that focus groups provide insight into the mind of women, but you have no idea what you are dealing with. Women are complicated.

Forbes recently reported that “Women are the world’s most powerful consumers, and their impact on the economy is growing every year. The global incomes of women are predicted to reach a staggering $18 trillion by 2018, according to global professional services firm EY.”

In fact, the entire article is a gold mine about female consumers, and you should definitely read it after you read this…

Women are the influencers and decision makers for our economy. Shouldn’t they also be the influencers and decision makers on your accounts? And not just on the accounts, but in the leadership roles?

Older professionals in the advertising industry have repeatedly told me, if you want more women in the creative industry, pitch it to the client as a smart business strategy.

Make sure they understand that it would be a good business move to have women working on accounts to sell to other women. Why?

Well for one thing, women selling to other women is a good business strategy.

A first hand look at the female mind. For example, women are funny. So why aren’t there more ads appealing to women’s sense of humor?

Sadly, we are afraid to say something to our boss or to you, the client, because we think just doing good work and showing up is enough to get put on the big accounts.

So clients, I can make you money. A lot of money. But first, the request has to come from you.

Ask for more creative women on your account.

Why would you trust a team of men to talk to stay at home mothers? You know what they produce? Culturally ambiguous actors that show and tell about cleaning and cooking products.

Women know what cleaning products are. We get it. Instead, why don’t you talk about how the bottle will actually last longer and has an easy to spray spout that never clogs?  Or maybe, instead of selling us the science behind the bottle you could put a man in the commercial instead (GASP!). Show THEM how easy it is to clean the kitchen.

Women will still buy a product, even if a woman isn’t in the commercial.

So clients, now that you know how to make more money, will you make the change? It doesn’t have to be drastic, because history would reveal men aren’t bad at selling to women and I don’t want an exclusive team of women working on female products either… but let’s start with hiring more women creative directors to lead a team of men.

Let hire inspiring creative women who will encourage others how to think more like a woman. Once you do that, you might not even have to conduct a single focus group ever again.

And that would make everyone very happy.

Staring at My Shoes

Guest Post by: Gabby Kailas

I blinked. There I was in my creative director’s office, staring at my shoesKailas

patiently, awkwardly. This had become the norm for him and I. I bring him the new version of a project and then I wait. I wait for him to review it and give it back to me because he didn’t want to take the time to return in to my desk. So, there I stood, staring at my shoes, for months.

My female coworker asked one day, “Why do you just stand in there?” My response was, “He asked me to do it one day and I just really want him to like me.”

It took me 8 months at my current job to fully realize what I was doing. The last three weeks of that I was in Dr. Grow’s class. I realized I had succumbed to the male leader like a lost puppy, but I was no lost puppy.

In my short time in Dr. Grow’s class, I had become aware that women in creative are knights going into battle by themselves. They live in a man’s world full of beer and locker room talk. This traditional view of a creative department in the advertising world is somehow unable to be shaken.

Sheryl Sandberg provides a fascinating perspective on the overall business world. It was not about becoming one of the boys or acting like her mom, it was leaning in and being herself. Sheryl Sandberg was herself and people respected and appreciated her for it. She even said that her “desire to be liked by everyone” would hold her back.

So, there I was again, staring at my shoes in my creative director’s office. I then saw my shoes walk out back towards my desk. I heard him yell, “Hey, I thought you were gonna wait?” I looked back to him, shrugged my shoulders and said, “I got shit to do.” He laughed then said, “That’s cool, I’ll bring them back when I’m done.”

It was from then on that him and I established a new norm. I was just as busy as he was and he respected that. If there was anything to take away from my first job in an agency, it would be to trust who I am as a person.

Sheryl Sandberg did say it best, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Gender in Advertising

Guest Post by: Megan Goerth

Gender in Advertising or Advertising to Gender…A few months ago I would have looked at the arrangement of those words and thought nothing of it, as if they were equal. Let’s just say a lot can be learned in a short period of time. I now look at the words with confusion, angst, hope, and multiple other adjectives. The first thing that pops into my head is gender in advertising. Three percent of creative directors are women; whereas women make eighty five percent of consumption decisions. Learning about these shocking stats along with other important information about women in creative has been an eye opening experience. The veil of ignorance has been lifted. I have finally been exposed to the bitter realities creative women face every day. I have become aware of the gender disparities in advertising creative and I am hopeful that my generation will be able to make a significant change to the number of creative women leaders.

GoerthAlthough, I have learned about the hardships that come with “being a woman in a man’s world”, I still believe that becoming a female creative director is highly attainable. Will it be easy and effortless, absolutely not? Male or female; no matter who you are, you will experience struggle, sacrifice, failure, triumph and many other things while on the way to the top. Males may have an easier time getting there, but at the end of the day it’s what you make of it. No one ever said that getting to the top would be easy, male or female, so why not just take the challenge? Being a woman, who wants to make it to the top, I have two choices:

  1. Wallow in the unfairness that only 3% of creative directors are women and give up on my hopes and dreams.
  2. Take the information I have learned and use it to my advantage.

I choose number 2! In order to make a difference and change the way things work, one must be aware of the change that needs to be made. Everything I have learned has only made me more eager to accept the challenge that comes with being a female creative. I could not be more excited to confront the gender disparities head on.