“Why do people say, ‘Grow some balls’? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you really wanna get tough, grow a vagina. Those things take a pounding.” – Betty White.
We love Betty White. Vaginas do take a pounding, and so do we. The reality is, female teams are not treated the same as other teams. It’s a men’s club and unless you behave like a man (which some women choose to do), you might find yourself excluded. From jokes to lunches, even one-on-one time.
The word precious gets thrown around a lot. OK, we do love some weird ideas, and we might get a bit touchy on our period, but it’s nothing a swig of the methylated spirits we keep in our drawer won’t numb. Besides, some of the male tantrums we’ve seen would stun a teething toddler to silence. And let's not get started on Man ’Flu.
But it’s more about being encouraged than being precious. The days of the old English way should be numbered. Reward will see better results than punishment.
None of this is exclusive to advertising. We’ve worked in other industries with similar experiences. Perhaps we’re more aware of it in advertising because it’s perceived to be so, particularly with shows like Mad Men. But in reality, all women deal with similar situations in their workplaces every day.
And the women you deal with aren’t necessarily easier to work with. In fact, the successful women can be the trickiest. There’s the threat that you’ll usurp them. Not surprising really, if you make it to the top, you covet that spot. We certainly wouldn’t let it go. But it is a shame that these should-be mentors can be your biggest competition. Thankfully, for every competitor, there’s always someone who’ll tell you when you’ve tucked your skirt into your knickers.
Being a chick team does have its advantages. We’re not sure men really know how to behave around the strange enigma that is us. Sexual harassment is at the forefront of most minds, but that’s only because we keep touching them inappropriately. Some men even look awkward when they swear in front of us. Like we give a shit.
There is a certain amount of power that we hold. And wearing the right shoes helps. Being chastised isn’t quite as scary when you’re the one looking down.
The advantages extend to dealing with clients. Maybe it’s a cliché, but on one occasion, because the client wanted a female perspective, we got to work on a nappy TVC all on our lonesome (minimal supervision). That kind of experience is hard to come by.
We also work on a lot of masculine brands…well. But that’s how it should be. And it shouldn’t be a surprise. We were hired because we can think, not for any other reason.
Trying to keep the balance between poise and poisonous can get wobbly. Sometimes we might fall flat on our ass, but remember; it’s a long fall when you’re wearing four-inch heels.
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