Friday, October 14, 2005

What, no women?

I've just been raking through my magazine pile from the last week or two and came across Campaign from the last two weeks. With each issue, there's a supplement showcasing two awards they've recently held - Digital and Poster. "Ah, this looks interesting", I say to myself and take a look. I turn the page to see the panel of judges beaming at me from each supplement. In the Digital Awards judging panel, there are 15 judges and 1 woman (she's not pictured). In the Poster Awards judging panel, there are 16 judges and not a single woman.

Putting aside any gender discrimination issues or sexist practices, in the interests of fairness alone, wouldn't a woman's point of view be useful and/or necessary? Half of all poster viewings must be viewed by women (unless those posters are in men's urinals that is) mustn't they? Ditto digital campaigns?

What's going on here? Does Haymarket not believe in getting women involved in these things? Are women not interested in taking part (which I find hard to believe but it *may* be true)? Is our voice not relevant?

How would men in the industry feel about an all-female judging panel? I see that would be equally inappropriate. But maybe a panel that more or less represents the proportion of women in the industry. Or is the female workforce in poster and digital marketing only 3.23%? Or am I getting frustrated over nothing and that it's perfectly ok to have an all-male panel and assume that of course they'd be the best for the job?

I foolishly hoped that in the 21st Century things would be different. I'm not expecting a 50:50 ratio, but 2 or 3 women on each panel wouldn't be unreasonable, would it? There are many talented women in the marketing industry generally, let alone poster/outdoor and digital (well I met a few of them at the Geek Dinner this week). Why aren't they here? Do women just have better things to do?

Comments please! This debate is also in action over on moblog UK.


  1. Anonymous3:08 pm BST

    Hi Helen

    I feel equally disparaged with award schemes in two particular areas. Firstly like yourself I believe women are under-represented in the digital industry awards and secondly many of the awards do not seem to be judging on merit. Rather, some unknown quantity that no one has shared with me.

    Like Campaign's awards, the Cream awards have also been judged by men only and if you attend the event I will guarantee you almost every winner will be a man from a male dominated company. In fact, there will probably be about 30 women in attendance if the one I went to a few years ago is representative.

    Now I could most definitely be biased as we didn't make the finals in 2 categories we went for in the Cream awards though I really felt the work was strong enough. We have received no feedback on our entries so I just don't know where we fell down.

    It would be great to feel each and every awards scheme was judged on merit only and was completely fair but is that really the case?

    I for one, am not sure.

  2. Anonymous7:49 pm BST

    Have read Campaign on and off for some years, and have always felt a male bias within its culture.

    However, achieving any sort of m/f balance will sadly just not happen.

    I am not saying paint everything girlie pink....what I am saying is lets be more creative in the ways we do work..awards may look nice..but are they dust traps?
    Its what the clients think that matters...and of course, the results..
    May you always walk in lifes sunshine.

  3. I agree with Kay - a lot of awards aren't judged on merit, IMHO. It seems that a lot of it is to do with who you know - which brings us back to the 'old boys' network'.

    Helen, I think you're right to get het up over this. It's not just the fact that there was only one female judge, it's also the fact that women are under-represented in so many of these areas and the awards were a reflection of that.

    When I first worked in marketing, I was surprised at the gender divisions (PR and account handlers: mostly female; digital and creatives: mostly male). I'd always thought there'd be more women than men in the visual arts careers (art directors, designers etc). After all, if we can see where our beloved has forgotten to clean the bath, surely we can see font, style, colour and layout well enough to judge a poster competition?!

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