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Welcome to the Boy’s Club

This April, GSD&M hosted the 3% Conference in Austin, which acted as a snippet of what you’d expect to see at the main conference in San Francisco. For those who may not know, the 3% Conference focuses on the extreme gender gap among creatives, specifically creative directors in advertising. You’ll find that only 3% of our creative leadership is female.

Why does this happen? Why is it that both guys and gals go to portfolio schools in equal numbers, but only 3% of those women make it to the top? Why is advertising such a boy's club?

  • Women don’t tend to ask for more. For example, men are more likely to ask for a raise, because men are more confident in demanding what they want. Hate to say it, but women are afraid to be demanding because it comes off as being “bitchy”.
  • It typically takes about 8-10 years to climb the ranks to become a creative director. Assuming you finished up school in your early twenties, by the time you come to the point of advancing to leadership in your career, you’re already thinking about marriage and kids. It’s expected at that point in our lives for women to focus on child-rearing. Therefore not being able to take the next step in their careers.

Kat Gordon, founder of the 3% Conference, stands for changing these expectations of women by encouraging women to push harder and lean in further, especially at the beginning of their careers.

Overall, the event was great. A quick shout out to the great guest speakers: Kat Gordon, Stefani Zellmer, Scott McAfee, Shanteka Sigers, and Carlotta Stankiewicz. All of them were amazingly nice and personable. The number of guys there in support of female creatives was great too. In a way, it’s almost upsetting to say that after over a year studying and networking with creatives, I hadn’t met a single female creative director before this event.

Conference booklet photo courtesy of 620Studio.

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