work as an art director for a large advertising
agency in NYC for the last year and a half. The
agency is run by some very powerful women which
was one of the reasons I came to work here, but
it's also why I am writing. My last agency was
run by men, but I have to tell you, I felt less
discrimination. Over the year, I have seen things
that have made me seethe with anger. So much so,
I went out to the bookstore to find a book to
help to understand what I was feeling. That is
when I came across your book, Manifesta,
and found out about your web site.
creative director is a woman. Each creative director
has many teams under them to work on that group's
particular accounts. Each team consists of an
art director and a writer. She rarely puts men
together with women. I've heard her say in the
past that the men only want to work with other
men. So she is perpetuating this behavior. The
men work with men and the women work with women.
I think we always have to deal with discrimination,
but I don't remember it being so blatant at my
other job. That makes me angry. I have no problem
working with other women, but what I do have a
problem with is the double standard that exists.
She has her favorites and it is so obvious. When
the men walk into the room she coos. When the
women walk in she slams her foot down. When the
men have a hard time solving a grueling assignment,
she'll pass it on to one of the female teams to
solve it. She will reward the man for putting
up with such a difficult assignment and give them
something great, but chastise the women for having
such a hard time with the same assignment. I feel
like the women are treated as the stablehands
and the men are the thoroughbreds. There are things
that she asks us to do that she would never ask
the men because it would be below them. It's a
no win situation.
is so much more to this story, but I'm afraid
it would take too long to go over everything and
I don't want to bore you. For various reasons,
I ended up working with this other writer who
was a creative director and a man. He hadn't had
a partner for a while, liked my work, so we pushed
to work together. We would present work and my
creative director would coo and ask about his
life while I sat there as she occasionally glanced
my way. Just so you know, I am not a wallflower
and try to speak my mind. As it turned out, there
was a reason he had problems finding a partner.
He was so difficult to work with. It did not work
out. In fact, it was the darkest experience I
think I ever had in my 10 years of advertising.
My creative director and the head of creative
services told me that he has a problem working
with other people and that they knew he had a
problem. So, what do they do? They give him assignments
to work on and produce by himself. You see...the
TV spots were about baseball and he loves baseball.
This would make him feel better since he was so
depressed by having another failure. ARRHHHHHHHH!!!!
He was able to work on many TV spots by himself
without an art director. That is the most important
time for the art director to be involved. In my
other agency he would have been put in a corner
and told to write radio if he couldn't play in
the sandbox with the other kids. Oh, by the way,
my creative director now treats me differently.
She is now very short and shoots me down every
time I open my mouth.
I recently asked for a raise above the standard
raise. This was during my time with the "star"
difficult writer. My creative director agreed
and actually promised me something over and above
what I was asking because I was worth so much
more (her words). It would be put through in a
few months. Well, the other day I was told that
I am not getting anything. Because of the hurting
economy they would not be giving raises. In the
meantime, a co-worker of mine who likes to share
too much information, was also having the same
problem. But he went in and talked them into it.
I tried, but they would not budge. I don't even
want to know what he is making. I have a feeling
it is more, and I have six years more experience
that he does. Granted I make a decent salary,
but I know I am making $30-40,000 less than what
others are making at my level.
apologize for my ranting. I know this is not always
the case, but why is it that women who have worked
and clawed their way to the top are sometimes
the oppressors of other women? They have spent
so much time trying to work with the men to get
ahead that they feel associating with other women
will bring them down. In many ways I am in awe
of her power and abilities because she is so good
and other time she make me want to vomit with
her obsequious behavior toward her men. Don't
get me wrong, she'll be tough with them, but the
dynamic is soooo different. I feel passive, aggressive,
seething, hurt and helpless. 'Why suffer' as Bjork
would say, but I'm good at my job, dammit!
would love your insight.
have been blessed to work mostly as a freelancer
and when I have had bosses they have mostly been
female and mostly been 100% supportive/encouraging,
etc... I know that my case is the exception and
I think it has been precisely because I have worked
with women who are secure in their positions and
who aren't working in an environment where they
have to "compete" for the top spots, i.e. more
female centered offices. Though this has been
my experience, I have had conversations with many
friends who have experienced/are experiencing
exactly what you are going through.
think the problem is that institutions often only
one woman is allowed to succeed and a woman is
still a "diversity requirement." We're successful
enough to be "successful women" or the "Top 50
Women in Business," but we aren't successful enough
to make the cut for "Top 50 People in Business."
I am not placing blame in the individual women,
but on a system that allows this to perpetuate.
I think that the advertising world is a good example.
I have some friends who after having had an experience
like yours refuse to work for women - how sad!
job as feminists is to change the climate of these
workplaces, not just the people in them. I think
we've done a good job on the latter, and now we
need to focus on the former. Specific to your
raise - you did what most women don't do - you
asked for a raise. Too many women lag behind in
salaries because they don't ask - men do. Have
you thought about enlisting the man who did get
a raise? As you have probably gathered from reading
Manifesta - I actually think that we need
for men to participate in feminism in order for
us to achieve equality. For instance, it makes
a greater impact if a man says "why don't we have
more female executives?" than if a woman makes
this same statement. Perhaps your male colleague
would be brave enough to say "why did I get a
raise and she didn't?" It's human decency, but
many people, unfortunately, don't make that leap.
hope that helps - and I want to thank you for
working to change the systems that be - I'm sure
you're a great example to others. Thanks again
for writing and "don't suffer."