The Changing Role of Women in Media and Marketing Industry

Women are the mind of change-makers and equality-minded business leaders across the marketing universe

There are a significant number of women in media and marketing industry compared with our overall benchmark. Our research shows that women at entry-level positions are moving up the corporate ladder in media and entertainment faster than men. They are being promoted to the manager level twice as often as men—6 percent for women compared with 3 percent for men.

This promotion rate contributes to a much higher percentage of women managers in the industry than in corporate America as a whole. It also represents a better promotion rate than in the wider workforce where that first promotion to manager is the most significant barrier to women’s advancement, commonly referred to as the “broken rung.”

Women in media and marketing industry, are enthusiastic about seeking advancement—but that’s where positive trends begin to fade. For an entry-level woman looking up, every rung on the career ladder will have fewer women in it. A woman graduating with a degree in mass communications or journalism, for instance, will walk across a stage where six out of every ten students are women. If she’s hired into the industry, her entry-level class will consist of five women in every ten hires.

Further up the corporate ladder, at the transition from senior manager to vice president, one woman from this group, on average, will drop out of the pipeline. By the time these mass-communication or journalism professionals are poised to reach the C-suite, they will account for fewer than three of every ten executives—a point commonly referred.

Women are held to a different standard

Almost half of the women in our research said they believe that women in media and marketing industry are judged by different standards than men. More important, they consider these gender-biased appraisals to be one of the biggest challenges to getting equal numbers of women and men in management at their organizations.

The numbers suggest that women are more aware of the biases facing other women than men are, with 34 percent of women reporting that they had heard or seen biased behaviour toward women in the past year a number that is higher than their male counterparts. This awareness gap can make it difficult for companies to mobilize and address issues with women’s workplace experiences.

Taking action

As the numbers suggest, there are many obstacles for women in media and marketing industry. But the two biggest challenges are the lack of women’s representation in senior positions and the culture of biased behaviour that negatively affects women’s day-to-day experiences in the workplace. There are tangible ways that companies can tackle both and help to level the playing field for women in media and marking industry.

To help women advance to senior positions.

Appoint more women to board positions:

Adding more women to the board can help ensure greater gender parity as companies evaluate candidates for senior-leadership positions. Board diversity can help to draw in and motivate more talented employees from a broader set of backgrounds.

A good way to get started is for boards to make a visible commitment to diversity and set new principles for decision making—by including women on every candidate slate, for instance. They can also expand their criteria for who gets on the board—by considering candidates with the right expertise, for example, and not just those with prior experience.

Establish senior-sponsorship programs:

Sponsorship is crucial to career advancement for both men and women, but research shows they often have networks of different sizes and compositions. For instance, women’s networks tend to be mostly female, while men’s networks are mostly male. This can become a disadvantage over time because of the lack of senior women available to provide sponsorship to the next generation of women.

To bridge this gap, companies can create formal sponsorship programs that connect executives to high-potential women with the goal of building relationships, providing advice, and most important, creating opportunities.

Ensure fair evaluations:

 Establishing formal hiring and evaluation criteria for senior leaders, as well as rank-and-file managers, can help break down entrenched systems that have led to unequal representation at senior levels. One way to formalize these processes is to mandate that companies build diverse candidate slates when hiring; that is, the list of candidates should include at least two qualified women or minority candidates for the hiring managers’ consideration.

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