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Cheers to Women Rocking the Marketing World—and Beyond

It’s Women’s History Month and I’m feeling all kinds of inspired to celebrate the strides women have made in challenging stereotypes, rocking leadership roles and striving for gender equality in the marketing industry—and beyond. It’s a topic that’s near and dear to me. So, grab your favorite beverage, kick back and let’s chat about the journey we’ve been on and where we’re headed.

No Slowing the Roll of Women in Advertising

Picture this: it’s the early 1900s, and women in advertising are mostly relegated to the sidelines, playing second fiddle to their male counterparts. And we all remember some of those brutal scenes with Peggy and Don Draper, likely VERY similar to what women in the Ad World were experiencing in the 60s.

Fast forward to today, we’ve made a ton of progress. BUT we still have some work to do. Women in advertising now hold around 70% of junior to manager-level positions…but only 37.5% of C-suite level jobs are held by women. And while women drive 80% of purchase decisions, only about 12% of creative directors are female.

Here’s the thing, an evolution takes time. It’s a slow, gradual process. From trailblazers breaking barriers to powerhouse female leaders steering the ship, the progress to date has been nothing short of incredible, but we’re not done yet.

Navigating Leadership as a Woman

Climbing that corporate ladder ain’t easy, especially when you’re rocking heels in a boardroom full of bros. But hey, we’re not here to blend in; we’re here to stand out!

Women have a different set of experiences and bring a different perspective to the table. That influences a different approach to leadership than men. And that difference isn’t a bad thing!

From subtle side-eye to outright bias, we’ve faced it all. But with grit, grace and the occasional eyeroll, we’ve shown ’em what we’re made of. And let me tell ya, there’s nothing more satisfying than not just overcoming the many challenges but thriving and rising to the top.

Related Content: Marketing Sweats Season 7 – The Influence of Women Leaders at Heavy Industry Brands

But sexism still exists. It’s often more subtle—an unconscious bias. As a society, we associate leadership with masculine traits. Think decisive, competent, assertive, strong. The stereotypical female is kind, nurturing, helpful, supportive and deferential. As a result, women are judged more harshly when they display leadership characteristics.

Robin Hauser refers to it as “the likability dilemma.” Unlike men, women are rarely perceived to be both competent and likable. Her TED Talk really got me fired up. I agree with Robin—ladies, forget about being likable and focus on being awesome. Let’s redefine the stereotype.

My Story

Speaking of redefining stereotypes, I’m so proud to be a part of a company built and led by many strong, powerful, smart-as-hell women. In an industry where female leaders aren’t common, I’ve somehow landed in a place that’s had many female leaders AND a majority female owner(s) for 20+years. They’ve taught me, shaped me and molded me into the leader I am today. Don’t get me wrong, the men at Simantel are incredible, too. But there’s something special about the women leaders here.

I learned by osmosis. Just being with them and observing them throughout so many different points of their careers. They were open and vulnerable, which built so much trust. They were kind and humble and owned their mistakes and flaws, which made them that much stronger. They empowered me and made me see my own value and potential. They showed up for me—personally and professionally and built me up when I was down. They let me fail so I could learn. They gave me some hard truths but were always there to soften the blow. They showed me how work can (and should) be fun.

All of that really hit home when I became a mom to the most special, sweet, weird, adorable baby girl. That truly changed everything—the way I thought about my life, my career, my happiness AND hers. Because of the strong female leaders I had the pleasure and privilege to learn from, I know that gender doesn’t limit what you can (and SHOULD do). These women provided me some reassurance that my baby girl can be and do anything she damn-well wants. (For more on that and stories from my years coming up in the agency, give this Marketing Sweats podcast episode a listen.)

But the story doesn’t end there. Simantel’s legacy of empowerment continues on today through a culture that not only celebrates the many talented women throughout the agency, but actively embraces the inherent value diversity brings to the workplace. I mean… check out all these awesome women that contributed to our Instagram reel on International Women’s Day this year.

Promoting Gender Equality and Inclusivity in Business

It’s on all of us to keep the momentum going. That means championing diversity, amplifying voices and lifting one another up. It’s putting in the hard work (without losing yourself in it), knowing and trusting in your knowledge and abilities and continuing to seek opportunities to grow. It’s finding a mentor; or being a mentor to help shape others. And it’s not just women supporting women. Male advocates are important, too!

Let’s be the change-makers, the disruptors, the trailblazers who pave the way for gender equality and inclusivity across every industry. Keep pushing boundaries, challenging norms and empowering the next generation of female leaders. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still work to be done.

Ten Female Influencers to Follow

There are so many good resources out there to support women aiming to achieve their goals in both their careers and their personal lives. Below are a few female influencers I like to follow to stay inspired and motivated to keep kicking butt. Check them out! Who’s your go-to? Drop a link to your favorite in the comment section below. I’d love to check them out, too.

    • Angela Lee Duckworth – Scientist and educator, Angela Lee Duckworth has some super interesting ideas about how grit and a growth mindset impact success.
    • Brené Brown – I love the insights researcher-storyteller Brené Brown shares about the power of vulnerability and human connection.
    • Jenné Beecher Fromm – Connection is key to engagement. And Jenné’s Connected Manager Program has helped Simantel leaders develop more meaningful relationships with their teams.
    • Misty Dykema – Integral to the culture of strong female leadership at Simantel, Misty also has a pretty cool side-gig helping leaders achieve their greatest purpose by stepping into self-love.
    • Rebecca Olson – Rebecca’s life coaching skills have helped me and other Simantel leaders learn how to integrate work and life, guilt-free.
    • Rachel Schall Thomas – The co-founder of LeanIn and OptionB, Rachel is a strong voice for empowering women and dealing with hardship.
    • Ann Handley – A speaker, author and digital marketing pioneer, Ann shares super helpful advice for creating quality content that gets results.
    • Glennon Doyle – Glennon’s podcast, We Can Do Hard Things is freaking amazing. I love the raw and honest conversations.
    • Mel Robbins – Motivational speaker, coach and podcast host, Mel Robbins is all about confidence building and raising your visibility.
    • Barbara Corcoran – Barbara is a savvy businesswoman, motivational speaker, executive coach, podcast host and author who knows how to get it done.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Women in Leadership

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s raise our glasses and toast  the badass women who’ve paved the way, the ones who are rocking it right now, and the trailblazers yet to come. Here’s to us, ladies – may we continue to shine bright, break barriers, overcome stereotypes and achieve success.  Cheers! 🥂

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