Advertising Technology

That’s What She Said: Blowing Up the Walls of the Old Boys’ Club

This is the monthly column, “That’s What She Said,” written by Amy Vale.

We are pleased to welcome Amy Vale as a monthly contributor to The Makegood. Amy is VP, Global Research and Strategic Communications for Mojiva Inc., the parent company for Mojiva, the mobile ad network, and Mocean Mobile, the mobile ad serving platform.

Advertising has been one of those industries where the “old boys’ club” mentality has prevailed for a long time. Most CEOs in business were (and currently are) male. They have dominant opinions; they could sometimes be uncompromising in their beliefs; they have an unwavering confidence that they are good enough to handle any challenge that arose. But the walls of the “old boys’ club” are starting to be disrupted. Female leaders are no longer the “exception” in advertising, let alone considered a “risky” move.

In June 2011, Harvard Business Review conducted a study to determine how leadership styles vary between men and women. The majority of leaders (64 percent) are still men. In this group, 78 percent of top managers were men, 67 percent were at the next level down (senior executives reporting directly to the top managers) and 60 percent were at the manager level below that. These are all stats that I would have expected, because to be perfectly honest, women are still striving to be seen as equal in advertising, technology and in business in general. Yes, I said it. To be clear, I’m not going to start ranting about the injustices of gender inequality, I’m just going to focus on the facts. In 2011, the gender wage gap for working women of all ages was 82.2%, according to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

But here’s where the HBR study gets interesting and points to a definitive trend of why women should be stepping in and excelling in key areas of leadership. For instance, women were rated higher in 12 of the 16 skills that go into outstanding leadership. Most of all, women outscored men in the biggest way in two leadership qualities long thought to be male strengths – taking initiative and driving for results. As a female executive myself, I agree.

This column, “That’s What She Said,” is not meant to be about anything but the realities of working in advertising and technology as a woman. Real life experiences I see or experience on a regular basis. No feminist agenda, just realities. So, to kick things off on a positive note, what better way to end my first post than to highlight three smart, strong and risk-taking women who inspire me to be a better colleague, manager, leader and woman.

Cindy Gallop, Founder, IfWeRanTheWorld and

In 2009, she delivered an unforgettable TED presentation that still gets talked about to this day. The former chair of the U.S. branch of famed advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty has taken the subject of human sexuality and created a discourse around it that’s realistic, socially shocking and acceptable all at the same time, shareable, and most importantly, isn’t defined by the crass depictions of hardcore pornography.

If that’s not reason enough to love (yes, love) the advertising icon, she’s that kind of no-holds-barred woman who doesn’t sugar coat things and says exactly what she’s thinking. Any woman who openly says, “I like to blow shit up” and then actually proceeds to do so is a woman I like and admire. I have a feeling certain male peers often feel jittery and queasy just standing next to her, which is very rare in our industry.

Anna Bager, VP & GM, IAB Mobile Center

Anna Bager knows everything and everyone there is to know in the mobile industry. As VP and GM at IAB’s Center for Mobile Excellence, she’s been instrumental in bringing mobile out of the shadows and giving it more credibility and value within mainstream marketing and advertising industries. Being an advocate of mobile research, you can bet I’ll be looking to Anna for her thoughts on mobile consumption and behavior, mobile strategy, creative executions and what lies ahead in 2013. Not to mention, she’s a voice of reason in an industry that’s often deemed the “Wild, Wild West.”

Sophie Kelly, President, The Barbarian Group

As a fellow Aussie expat, Sophie Kelly too has made New York City her home. She’s never been happy with the status quo – she’s all about pushing the limits of creativity and innovation to make the work of her colleagues, peers and clients be smarter, more interactive, more entertaining and, oh yes, more focused on ROI.

In an industry of people who love to pat themselves on the back for a job well done, Sophie does the work and does it incredibly well, and the work speaks for itself, time and time again. She’s not loud, aggressive or ever one to pass the buck. She’s challenging in a thought-provoking way, assertive and does what’s best for the business, not her own personal profile.