INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Breaking barriers
Based on an article by Author: Maxine-Laurie Marshall
Being a female marketer in a male-dominated industry can be difficult. Maxine-Laurie Marshall sought advice from female leaders about dealing with the most common barriers stopping women from progressing their careers.
March plays host to International Women’s Day so it only seemed right to dedicate a couple of pages to women in marketing. This may act as an eye opener and you will discover some advice you can pass onto your wives, girlfriends and daughters.Women on boards.
In an article published at the end of January The Independent said: ‘Twenty per cent of all directors and 25 per cent of non-executive directors are women.’
Things are moving in the right direction. But let’s not forget the aim is 25 per cent, and that is still only one quarter and we’re not even at that number yet. So what do women need to do to stand a chance at filling a seat that is predominantly filled by men? “Go for it”, Victoria Park, marketing director at Sapphire Systems, says emphatically. “
Having confidence can help deal with a particularly thorny issue when it comes to women in the workplace: emotions. Having enough confidence and self-belief can help keep emotional outbursts at bay.
While people are in charge of their own destiny, the working environment in which they operate has a major impact. “We must remember the workplace was historically a male sphere, and as such many organisations are still structures in which men have more opportunity to flourish – with inflexible working hours that make balancing a family and career a seemingly distant dream,” says Jane Asscher, founding partner, strategy and management at 23red.
The historically male dominated workplace can also look upon certain female attributes as a sign of weakness. As Alana Griffiths, marketing strategy director at Mason Zimbler, says: “I think at times it can be daunting to operate at a senior level with few females around you, especially if you happen to have a softer skillset. Unfortunately, not all colleagues value a gentler approach, or understand that it isn’t synonymous with weakness.”
In order to promote those internal personal changes – such as an increase in confidence – and give women the strength to push for wider change in the industry, a mentor is needed.
Jonathan Becher, CMO of SAP, believes the lack of females in their twenties with mentors is potentially harming their future career success. If I look at women in their twenties who have business mentors compared to men, it seems substantially lower.”
When thinking about who you might like to have as a mentor or role model, Jen Roach, VP communications, EMEA at SAP says: “Ensure they are prepared to make time for thinking creatively, are confident and engender a collaborative, listening approach. It is better to pick someone you admire and approach them yourself: be well prepared and be able to articulate your case and what you aspire to and how you’d like the relationship to develop with the mentor. In other words you will need to market yourself.”
Women and children
Finally, whether you’re in your early-mid thirties, and regardless of whether you are planning on having a child soon, it’s likely your boss is thinking about it. So is it possible for women to be in a leadership position while having children? “Anything that makes it more practically possible for men to take on the childcare role will free up the possibility for women to continue advancing on their career paths, towards board positions.”
So if career progression and leadership roles are your aim, then some of the changes required to make that happen rest with you. But we all need to act and keep pushing this topic to the forefront, it’s raising awareness and pushing for a change in attitudes.