Top 5 Myths about being a Female Creative Director

  1. You can’t have a family.

I have two kids. It’s not always necessarily your boss or your co-workers that are the issue. It could be you, or your partner. You can have a family and a career if you have a partner that is supportive of your career. You really should accept nothing less.

2. You’ll work only on female brands.

Ask yourself these two questions:

1. Is this what will happen? That depends on the agency you choose to work for. If they have a roster of Mom brands, then that’s probably your destiny. If it’s clear from the first interview that this is the position, then that’s where you’ll be headed. Whether you stay there will be up to you. If you work for a company that has a variety of clients, then you won’t be pigeonholed, unless you allow it.

2. Is that what should happen? When we did work for a group of cloistered Carmelite Nuns, I worked with a Jewish male writer. It didn’t even cross my mind, but it did cross his. To date, that is one of the campaigns that I am most proud of. If I can’t CD a campaign for Axe or Halo, then that’s because I’m not a good CD, it has nothing to do with being female. Yes, it can be a huge advantage being the target demographic you are trying to reach, it can also be an advantage not being that target. The interesting work and tension comes from outside perspectives.

3. You have to be a “bitch” to succeed.

There are many, many people that subscribe to this school of thought. They surrender to the hard-core = effectiveness model. I guess sometimes that may actually work, but it’s limited and not sustainable. If you can, get people using the word “passionate” to describe you instead. If you are compassionate and frank, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding this unfortunate label, still be effective and have a great career.

4. All men are out to keep you down.

Are there still a lot of “boys clubs” out there? Yeah. But assuming that all men want a boys club is over-generalizing, limited and inaccurate. And, if you do assume this it may give you an attitude that you’re unaware of. Without meaning to, you walk in with a chip on your shoulder that can drive people, male or female away. Some of my best champions are men. I’ve had excellent examples of female leadership too, but not solely.

5. You have to sleep your way to the top.

This is the most insidious of them all. The one that no one will have the guts to say to someone’s face, but many often think or whisper privately about successful women. Haven’t we evolved past that one? Good lord.

Does it ever happen? Have some ladies done it to advance their career? I don’t know, probably. But they most likely just got to another level. I believe that very rarely, if ever, it got them all the way to the top. Without talent it’s just not going to happen.