[Part 2 of a 3-part series on women in marketing. You can read the previous instalment in this series here]
Research proves that equal gender representation translates to a more lucrative and robust discourse in politics, government, media, and private sector business – including marketing. As UN Women indicates, empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to build stronger economies, achieving internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improving the quality of life for women, men, families and communities.
Despite this reality, women are still severely underrepresented. I would argue against any assumption that women aren’t trying to find work. By and large, women are better qualified, harder working, and inject a highly positive influence and alternative perspective in business. Of course, we go after the jobs we want (I know I do).
So why aren’t we getting hired? And just as importantly, why are so few of us being retained for longer periods in business?
Former Director of Policy Planning in the White House and Dean at Princeton, Anne-Marie Slaughter is a force to be reckoned with. Unlike some women, she’s managed to raise a family and foster an incredibly successful career as well. Most recently, she has also spoken out against the Western business culture that does not favour women’s success.
In Slaughter’s provocative 2012 piece for the Atlantic, which became the magazine’s most-read article ever, she dismantled the popular notion that women who fail to ‘have it all’ lack the ambition to do so. Instead, she argues that women are up against a very different, very complex array of systemic barriers that work against us.
Slaughter notes that she still strongly believes women can in fact have it all, but not with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured. Of her most poignant arguments is her conclusion: “If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal. We must insist on changing social policies and bending career tracks to accommodate our choices, too.”
Clearly, motherhood can feel like a burden on any woman’s career (and vice versa) – particularly when women are far more statistically inclined to find themselves saddled with the majority of housework and childcare.
Then again, family life does not account for the discrepancy of dynamic, capable young women in the infancy of their careers, who’ve yet to start a family, or are perhaps are not planning to have one at all. Why are they still left out to dry in marketing industries and elsewhere?
As all women are different, and circumstances vary, there is no one answer to this question. It is reassuring to see a myriad of events and organizations working tirelessly to close the gap and foster a richer, more gender-inclusive business culture in Canada and beyond.
Here’s just a sample of some great organizations in the Ottawa region working to celebrate, mentor and support more women in marketing and business:
- The Women’s Business Network of Ottawa
- Women Powering Technology: Ottawa Chapter
- Women’s Executive Network