Aussie agencies agonise over shortage of women, but it’s not about women it’s about work

Not to bring them coffee or whiten their cricket pads but the seeming inability of women execs in Oz to rise to the top positions in ad agencies. This, they argue, means they are less credible in pitching to women marketing directors.

Hmm. You get this all over the place of course, there’s a debate going on in the UK at the moment (in reality it has been for decades) about the shortage of women on the board of FTSE 100 companies, the so-called ‘glass ceiling.’ But is this discrimination or just that women have other things they’d prefer to do?

Leaving the family bit out of it for a moment, I think you’d probably find that a much higher proportion of women occupy the top jobs in public services worldwide, charities and NGOs. And many of these people probably could have risen higher in private sector jobs has they not chosen switch horses.

So where does the family bit come into it?

Well in the private sector, and adland is a spectacularly bad example, there is still the culture of working crazily long hours and then being supposed to socialise after hours even though there may be kids or friends or relatives who should have an equal purchase on your time.

And this is definitely a male thing, the big firms of accountants are particularly culpable, expecting their younger employees to number crunch 12 hours a day.

As though you can do your best work, or even acceptable work, working Victorian-era chimney sweep hours.

As for agencies, name me one that doesn’t prepare pitches over the weekend?

Anyway Aussie trade site mumbrella is to be praised for airing this issue. But the issue isn’t prejudice against women, it’s prejudice in favour of completely barmy working rituals.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.