Women’s History Month reminds us of all the women that have come before us and paved the way for many of us to be where we are today. That applies to any industry and space where women can take ownership and show their authentic selves and the power behind their leadership styles. It’s an excellent time to reflect on how we have grown and the many challenges ahead. Today, we want to recognize the unique perspective and experience women in marketing bring to the table and highlight some impressive women who have achieved fantastic things. Women that inspire us and that make the marketing world a more equitable place, but first, let’s take a look at the challenges we face as women in the industry today.

Challenges For Women In Marketing And Other Industries

It wasn’t that long ago that women were relegated to more administrative roles in the industry, and even when they did have positions of power, they often had to fight twice as hard to be taken seriously.

Women have persisted, and today, we’re seeing more and more women breaking through the glass ceiling and making their mark on the industry. And while there is still work to be done to achieve gender equality in marketing, we’re moving in the right direction.

Nonetheless, here are some of the challenges female workers still face today:

Work Inflexibility

Balancing career and personal life is something that has become more and more appealing, especially after the pandemic. People have discovered that remote working gives them enough space to achieve a better work-life balance and simplifies many day-to-day processes. This is particularly true for many women juggling work, childcare, and even senior care. Although some companies have given more flexibility to workers, others remain very strict, making the work-life balance problematic for many women.

When imbalances like these occur, many women feel like they have to choose between their careers and family, or it also means juggling both in an unhealthy way that drives burnout and mental health issues. Deloitte’s Women At Work report shows that the levels of stress have kept increasing since the pandemic and that women still face problems regarding flexibility in the workplace:

  • Just one-third of women (33%) say their employer offers flexibility policies. 
  • 94% of the women believe that requesting flexible working will affect their likelihood of promotion.
  • 90% believe their workloads won’t be adjusted accordingly if they request flexible-working options.

Work Culture And State Of The Pipeline

Even though there have been slight improvements in the number of women in corporate America in the last eight years, women, particularly women of color, continue to be significantly underrepresented in senior leadership roles.

During 2022, McKinsey ran their Women In The Workplace report in partnership with LeanIn.Org and discovered we’re amid a “Big Breakup” where women are demanding more from work and leaving their companies in unprecedented numbers to get it. The reasons why they leave include the following:

  • Women face headwinds that signal it will be harder to advance.
  • They’re more likely to experience belittling microaggressions, such as having their judgment questioned or being mistaken for someone more junior.
  • They’re doing more to support employee well-being and foster inclusion, but this critical work is spreading them thin and going mostly unrewarded.
  • It’s increasingly important for women leaders to work for companies that prioritize flexibility, employee well-being, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Women in marketing stats

Without action, companies risk losing their current and next generation of women leaders. “For every woman at the director level who gets promoted to the next level, two women directors are choosing to leave their company.”

The Impact Of The Pandemic On Women In Business

The pandemic had a massive impact on workers worldwide, but women have disproportionately felt it. According to an article from the US Commerce Chamber, “while women had accounted for about 39% of the workforce pre-pandemic, they accounted for about 54% of the job losses that we had experienced to date at that time.”

And this also applies to business owners who have faced adversity during the pandemic. Women-led startups received just 2.3% of venture capital funding in 2020. Furthermore, access to capital remains an issue for women business owners. This survey reports that 54% of women entrepreneurs say they’re held to a different standard than their male counterparts when accessing capital.

Ways To Support Women In Marketing

So, with all these challenges ahead, what can we do to make our industry more equitable? There are small steps we can all take to support women entrepreneurs, workers, and business owners. And if we do them collectively, we can drive that needed change.

Mentorship And Leadership Opportunities

Let’s provide more mentorship and leadership opportunities. Having mentors can help accelerate women’s careers. And many studies show how mentorship can do this for employees:

  • A promotion is five times more likely for a mentored employee.
  • 87 percent of employees with mentors or that mentor others feel empowered by their relationships and attribute increased confidence to the experience.
  • In one study, retention and promotion rates for women participating in mentoring programs increased from 15 percent to 38 percent.

So, if you’re a woman in the industry, consider reaching out to other women in your field and offering guidance. There is much you can share with other women in the area about your expertise, and it will support empowering others to achieve greater success. And if you’re in a position of power, consider actively seeking and promoting women within your organization.

Diversity And Inclusion Programs At Work

Another step to take is to be mindful of our own biases and assumptions. We all have implicit biases, but we can create a more inclusive and equitable workplace by acknowledging them and actively working to overcome them. D&I initiatives are crucial for this, but it’s only effective when:

  • You integrate the values of diverse and inclusive culture with organizational objectives.
  • Leaders model D&I principles.
  • Everyone has a seat at the table, and you allow actual representation and diverse groups in the program.

Support Women-Owned Businesses

This involves a conscious decision to purchase more products from women-owned businesses or support gender equality by including women in leadership roles. Supporting women-owned businesses is crucial in creating a more equitable and inclusive economy. We can help level the playing field and ensure talented and capable women have the resources and opportunities they need to thrive.

In addition, supporting women-owned businesses can also have a broader impact on society. Women leaders prioritize diversity and inclusivity twice as much as their male counterparts, both in their hiring practices and products and services. By supporting these businesses, we can create more diverse and representative workplaces and products which benefit everyone.

So how can you support women-owned businesses? A straightforward way is to seek out and purchase from companies owned and operated by women. This can be anything from a local coffee shop to a national clothing brand; you can also recommend them to friends and family. Another thing to consider is investing in women-owned businesses through direct investments or funds that prioritize investing in women entrepreneurs. If you own a business, you could focus on adding more woman-owned businesses into your supplier pipeline to provide more opportunities to women in the industry or incorporate more female leadership roles.

Inspiring Women In Marketing Today

Let’s take it from the facts and the theory and onto the practice. Here’s a list of strong, influential women leaders in marketing today:

Susan Wojcicki

She has been YouTube’s CEO from 2014 until 2023. Her forward-thinking initiatives have been instrumental in making the platform what it is today. Under her leadership, YouTube reached the 2 Billion mark of logged-in users per month; she also tightened policies in the platform for content related to hate speech and violence and revolutionized how we consume media.

Additionally, Wojcicki has championed a couple of causes, including increasing paid family leave, addressing Syrian refugees’ needs,  countering gender discrimination among technology companies, encouraging girls to study computer science, and prioritizing school computer programming.

 Plus, she’s a mom of five! Talk about a superwoman.

Bozoma Saint John

What makes her truly special is that she not only leads with bold, cutting-edge ideas, but she’s a change agent. She’s currently the Chief Marketing Officer of Netflix but has an extensive background in marketing roles at Apple Music and Uber. People know Bozoma for her ability to connect with audiences meaningfully and her fierce advocacy for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Bozoma is also a member of the Billboard Hall of Fame, the American Advertising Federation Hall of Achievement, and the American Marketing Association Hall of Fame. 

Through her Badass Workshop, she has created a curated space where she mentors and inspires others to achieve their full potential with tools that allow people to build their life on their own terms and unlock their greatest selves.

Ann Lewnes

Another marketing trailblazer is Ann Lewnes, the Chief Marketing Officer of Adobe.

Few CMOs last in a single organization for a very prolonged time, but Ann has been with Adobe for over 16  years. She has played a vital role in the company’s evolution from a software provider to a cloud-based digital marketing solutions provider. Transforming how marketers everywhere work in today’s world and what kind of customer experience they want to offer. She’s also a champion for gender equality through her work and was named one of Forbes’ “World’s Most Influential CMOs.”

And So Many Others

The big names in marketing aren’t the only ones making waves. Innumerable women are doing amazing things in the industry every day—women like Sarah Barnes-Humphrey, who’s a leading voice in supply chain logistics. Through Let’s Talk Supply Chain, she brings diversity into the limelight, supports entrepreneurs globally, and drives positive change in the community through sustainability programs and donations to impactful organizations. Or Emily Heyward, who co-founded Red Antler, a marketing and branding agency that helped launch some of the most prominent startups in recent years.

Final Words

So here’s to all the fantastic women in marketing and beyond! Thank you for staying true to your unique voices and vision for a more inclusive and equitable industry. Through your hard work, you inspire us to go beyond what’s been achieved until today and remind us that there is still work to be done to ensure equal rights.

For decades, women have been transforming the industry, and we know there is much more work to be done in the hope of improving work life for future generations of female leaders! Overwork culture hurts both sexes and locks in gender equality. We need to reconsider what we’re willing to allow the workplace to expect from all employees and ensure everyone plays by the same rules. Finally, we hope this roundup has spurred you to take action, support more women-owned businesses through conscious consumer behavior, and find little ways to make your world more equitable and inclusive.

As a B Corp-certified and women-owned business, part of our mission includes closing the gender gap by supporting women-owned companies to achieve success through strategic digital marketing efforts. Interested in learning how we accomplish that? Schedule a call with our team!