Recently, I had a coworker ask me an interesting question. It was posed in a way that implied that he had never really thought about it before. As if he was even surprised he was about to ask it, and a bit concerned about how I would answer.
“What is it like to be the only one of your gender in our creative department… all the time?”
My reply, “Well…it can be a little weird.”
As an art director, being the only female in my group is my reality a lot of the time. Sometimes it’s easy to feel secluded. Many great female art directors and creative directors have also experienced this and shared this “Boys Club” phenomenon. There is even an entire professional conference based on the platform of supporting female creatives in the advertising industry (3 Percent Conference, founded by Kat Gordon).
So I thought I would share my experience…
Many female creatives have experienced incidents of sexual harassment or have been given only female-facing products or clients. Thankfully I find myself in a much better situation at Schifino Lee. My coworkers see me as an equal, most of the time. While there absolutely is a Boys Club here, that doesn’t mean I can’t change the definition of who can be a member.
So how do I combat the Boys Club mentality? By including myself.
There was a time, before SL, that I can remember distinctly when I was not included in meetings, concept sessions, group lunches and general shenanigans around the office. I mentioned this to a friend of mine once, telling him that it had “hurt my feelings.” He stopped me right there and said, “Well, there’s your problem. You’re taking it personally. And by getting emotional about it, you’re not allowing yourself to find the rational solution.”
He went on to say, “If you want to be in that meeting, you need to stop waiting to be invited.” He was so right.
That changed the way I looked at my coworkers. They weren’t NOT including me because I was a girl. They just didn’t think that I cared to be involved because I was quietly sitting at my desk observing from a far.
You want to go to that meeting, sit in on that concept session and shoot nerf guns at your coworkers to liven up the day a little?
Invite yourself. Insist upon it if you have to. Show an interest instead of meekly standing in the corner waiting to be brought to the round table.
That goes for everyone. Not just females.