Going to an all girls school for 13 years of my life, instilled in me that women can challenge, shape and change the world. It wasn’t until college when I was faced with what I thought was ignorance. However, I was the ignorant one. I didn’t realize how many men and women did not think women were good enough, or capable enough.
Then I went into the workforce, and naively thought that surely the people who work here are more mature than those I went to university with. Wrong again. Of course, the sexism wasn’t “celebrated” openly, but in advertising, there’s deﬁnitely a boy’s club.
At that point I was torn; do I act like one of the boys or do I just act like me? Apparently, my supervisor noticed this internal struggle as acting like one of the guys wasn’t working out so well for me. She pulled me to the side one day and told me to sugar coat my emails a little, that I was being too direct, and though that may work for the male account managers, it wouldn’t be received well from a woman. She continued to tell me that in her last 360 review, she was called abrasive and because of that was denied a promotion, and she didn’t want to see the same for me.
Nilofer Merchant, the author of “Onlyness” and speaker at the 3% Conference, shared with us that “69% of people cover a part of who they are to ﬁt in.” That is exactly what my previous supervisor had asked me to do despite her good intentions. With the staggering reality that only 3% of creative directors are women, I ﬁnd it hard to believe that trying to ﬁt in has worked for us.
The 2016 3% Conference was the ﬁrst time since primary school that I had felt surrounded by a community of women that believe in women. We cannot be the victims of our own lives and I was happy to be in the company of such strong women who had overcome obstacles that I am only beginning to encounter in the early stages of my career.
I have had the fortune of being surrounded by powerful women: Karen Kaplan, CEO of Hill Holliday; Pippa Seichrist, co-founder of Miami Ad School; and Kat Gordon, founder of the 3% Movement.
Now, that I am about to reenter the workforce as a creative women, I am hoping not only to be one of the women in that small percentage, I want to change the statistic entirely. I want to be among the ﬁrst female, Puerto Rican chief creative ofﬁcers.
See the authors Laura Marie Mariel and submission here.
Learn more about the 3% Conference Student Challenge.