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.
Guest Post by Melanie Leonard
These are my current life (portfolio) worries:
Is my thinking strategic,
Is my artwork crafted beautifully,
Is the work clearly understood?
Ultimately, do these pixels entice you enough to want to work with me?
Many times, my portfolio is the first and only impression I have to convey who I am as a creative. However, I’ve stared at it endlessly and so, I don’t know what impression I’m leaving.
When it comes to looking for fresh eyes, I’m always surprised by how many people actually want to help. This was proven today by Adobe, the 3% Conference and the creative directors who came together to organize a most beneficial portfolio review for us young creatives.
I walked in the airy room, sat down at a long table, opened my laptop and listened as an experienced sage reviewed my portfolio. She took the time to get to know me and where I want to go. Right away I felt like she had my back and wanted the best for me in this business while also providing me with actionable critique. She unforgivingly went through my site with a fine-tooth comb, yet I’ve never felt more encouraged.
It’s all the better that this event happened during the 3% Minicon in Miami, where all the attendees left inspired. When we talk about the future of advertising and wonder where its going, the 3% Conference is leading the way.
Events that bring creatives together to mentor, encourage and learn are fundamental to the creative field and is what makes it so exciting. It’s powerful to see Adobe and the 3% Conference come together to enable this. Because ultimately, together is how we’ll transform the industry.
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Learn More about The 3% Conference here: http://www.3percentconf.com
NOTE: This guest post is by Leslie Peterson, one of Adobe’s Student Scholarship winners for the 2014 3% ConferenceI was walking down 34th street, looking to catch a train back to Jersey when the e-mail arrived saying we’d won. A month earlier, a friend and I entered a poster contest, hoping to win a scholarship and tickets to the 3% Conference in San Francisco, courtesy of Adobe.
The conference is about women championing causes, speaking out, and making strides in advertising, a traditionally male-centric industry. In short, it’s a distinctly feminist affair. When I stood back and realized this, I groaned inwardly a little bit.
I don’t think of myself as a feminist. Most “feminism” I see these days comes from a small, but vocal, subset of writers claiming to be the “true” 3rd Wave feminists. They huddle in the warm, life-giving glow of their computer screens, fingers eagerly clicking away writing post after post for their terribly designed blogs about how men oppress them daily in the most trivial of ways. They make mountains out of molehills, and complain of all the issues women face while expecting the problem to fix itself because it’s been “called out.”
A man smiles at you? Oppression. A man holds the door for you? Oppression. A man spreads his legs when he sits on the subway? Go ahead, take a guess.
I like to call this subset Tumblr Feminism, and it has all but turned me off from championing female rights completely. Why should I be a feminist if it means affiliating with people who enjoy “bathing in male tears,” and believe misandry should be the way of the future? That men are brutish dolts who serve no other purpose but to breed? But hey, with the way cloning technology is coming along, we might not even need them for that anymore, am I right ladies?
It hurts, because in my mind, that’s not what the idea of feminism is. Equality entails that men and women are on the same footing, not that it’s time for women to rise and crush their male counterparts under pink stilettos. I sometimes weep for what feminism has become, because too often it comes across as vapid, facetious, and asinine.
This was the mentality I took with me to the conference; a very skeptical, yet open-minded interest into women’s issues.
What I found at the conference was something different and refreshing. The speakers were not only all well informed and realistic about their expectations of men, but they were keen to discuss the responsibilities women need to take on if real change is to happen. Kat Gordon, CEO and founder of the 3% Conference, mentioned in her opening statement that, “everything begins as an invention, therefore everything can be reinvented.” How true those words rang, as it felt like the way we handle women’s issues was being reinvented before my very eyes.
Perhaps the most poignant part of the conference for me happened at the very beginning with filmmaker Dyllan McGee’s passion project, MAKERS. With over 2500 interviews of prominent women in various fields, every story I saw was a story of change. The interviews proved what I had always known to be true: change doesn’t happen by complaining, it happens through action.
In fact, actionable change was a prevalent theme throughout the conference, whether it was a panel on gaining respect from male coworkers, or a discussion on what agencies can do about Super bowl commercials still catering mostly to men, even though more women than ever are tuning in. We were discussing practical solutions to practical problems in ways I never imagined.Every day women make strides toward closing the gap between them and their male counterparts, and not because they whined on their blogs about how the world constantly victimizes them, but because they work hard and treat the other side with understanding and respect. The American workforce has become significantly less oppressive toward women. In fact, John Gerzema, coauthor of the Athena Doctrine contends that the essence of a leader is more female-like, and that “we’re on the cusp of a feminine age”. Be that as it may, one must cultivate both masculine and feminine traits in order to be an effective leader.
The second day of the conference focused on self-improvement, because, believe it or not, most women don’t always want to be defined by how oppressed they are. Todd Henry, founder of Accidental Creative and author of Die Empty suggests that structuring one’s time by design is the only way to combat oppressive force. It’s important to allocate our time into projects that will both pay off immediately, as well as in the long term. Investing time in a passion or hobby, even if it doesn’t seem like we’re really doing anything, can have unexpected far-reaching benefits.
Coming away from it all, I couldn’t help but be impressed with both the 3% Conference and Adobe. They were nothing but wonderful, considerate sponsors to me and all the other student scholars. The experience definitely gave me a new perspective on what it means to be feminist. The world is a different place than what Tumblr feminists make it out to be in their “safe spaces” of the blogosphere. It’s not just women who are ostracized for not following an expected gender norm, and in fact, the gender gap has narrowed and even switched in the last few years. Women have a responsibility to take action for their causes, and not just think men will magically fix the broken system because women complained enough. It’s said that the hardest rules to break are the unwritten ones, but these rules on what women should be are going out of style fast.
I still wouldn’t say I’m a feminist, but if this is what being pro-women is about, I guess I can live with that.
In a time where women influence 80% or more of consumer spending, advertising agencies are lagging in diversity — only 3% of all Creative Directors are women. The mission of The 3% Conference is to help change that ratio, and the 3% number was recently updated to 11%.
Adobe is proud have had a hand in that growth. We’ve been a sponsor of The 3% Conference since its inception. The 2014 conference will take place in San Francisco on November 3 and 4, and we’re excited to participate.
One of the ways we support the event is by sponsoring the Student Scholarship Program for The 3% Conference. This year, student teams were challenged with creating a poster to highlight the fact that the number of female Creative Directors has increased 300%. All 20 members of the 10 winning teams will attend the conference and receive a personal portfolio review from a team of professionals, including freelancers, agency and client-side creatives.
We were blow away by the caliber of the work our winning students produced. The winning entries are highlighted in the gallery below, with thoughts from the student creators. Please check them all out!