We’ve got a way to go. But the future’s bright for female creatives.

By Teamspirit on Tuesday, 8 March 2022

We’re starting to see a new dawn for gender equality in the creative industries. Mainly because we’re actually talking about it in real terms now – with reports like the EU’s ‘Towards gender equality in the cultural and creative sectors’ providing targeted recommendations to policy makers and people in power. And the gender pay gap in advertising is beginning to close too.

But, while it feels like a cliché to say, it bears repeating: we’ve got a long way to go. Women are still underrepresented in the industry, particularly at the top. According to UNESCO’s 2021 report on Gender and Creativity, only 15% of women under the age of 35 are in senior roles in the culture sector, compared with 31% of men. And 70% of young female creatives have never worked with a female Creative Director or Executive Creative Director. So we need to keep talking and be open to find real solutions.

Real experiences

Sophie – Creative Copywriter

I feel incredibly fortunate to be working now, when things seem to be genuinely changing for women. I’ve heard some real horror stories from people of my mother’s generation, about their uphill struggle to not only progress but just to exist in the workplace without harassment.

I know there’s still work to do. I still see ways in which the system is weighted towards men – like when I realise I’ve worked with only one other female creative copywriter in almost five years at three different companies, or when I see myself and my female friends reflected in studies about women’s discomfort with self-promotion.

But I’ve never felt unsafe at work or hopeless or overtly held back because of my gender. And systemic change takes decades to achieve – but I see how far we’ve come, and it gives me an immense amount of hope for the future.

Jess – Creative Services Director

Having dyslexia, I naturally gravitated towards creative subjects at school. An art teacher, who was a practising painter in her spare time, gave me the confidence I needed to continue into higher education.

Since then, I’ve witnessed a huge change in the number of women, not only in the creative industries, but also at C-suite level.

It’s not been easy though.

Many friends and I have been on the receiving end of inequality in our careers. And while it’s toughened us up, I’m thankful our successors will be on more of a level-playing field.

No gender pay gap, being asked to make the tea, or mansplaining.

Simply focusing on progression and producing creative work to be proud of.

Anonymous – Creative

I have a very distinct memory that came to mind immediately when thinking of experiences I’ve had as a female creative. And it was at a networking event. At least, I think that’s what it was. Funnily enough, I don’t remember what it was about at all, but I do remember feeling incredibly inspired by the person running one of the sessions.

A group of us were invited to gather and listen to a lady talk about creative life and she introduced herself as Creative Director at a huge ad agency. I was floored. This was the first time, at least that I can recall, that I’d met and spoken to a female CD. Especially at such an esteemed company. What’s more was that she talked about her family life too, and her children. It wasn’t a very long session, but it was very insightful. I won’t go into details about it now. But more than that, it left a huge impression on me even all these years later.

To think that it was possible to have a rich work and home life together. To think that being a woman wouldn’t stop me from rising to where I wanted to be. If this lady had done it, then I could too. And that was worth more than whatever the talk was about. Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to encourage other young creatives in a similar way, as that feeling of motivation and hope made such a difference for me.

Ida – Senior Digital Designer

Before joining Teamspirit I’d worked as a freelance creative for over 8 years in London. London is a beautiful place to experience the true spectrum of the global creative flow; and to observe the culture.

I had the opportunity to experience two types of work environments. Ones that had a ‘’bro club’’ type of leadership- full of conflicts, overtalking, and burnouts. And the other kind, ones that had gender-balanced leaderships- human-centred and nurturing. I am very happy to say that I am currently working in the second type of environment.

Briefly, culture happens from the top down. If creative talent chooses to work under gender-balanced leadership, a lot can change. Especially female talent.

The future is bright… if we continue to break the bias

International Women’s Day is so incredibly important. But through the research and the stories, it’s clear we can’t forget about the other 364 days where we can make a positive change – for this generation, and the next. So let’s keep working toward this shared goal together and level the playing field for all.