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Male Executives Challenge Gender Inequality By Reading Quotes From Female Co-Workers

Male Executives Challenge Gender Inequality By Reading Quotes From Female Co-Workers

By Lindsey Lanquist

"Stop talking to me like I’m a little girl," is a rare thing to hear a man say. So is, "I get the sense I need to be a bitch to get a promotion," or, "People look at my title and think: There's no way I got here because I'm good at my job." And that's because these words weren’t uttered by men — at least, not originally. A new video campaign from advertising agency TBWA features a series of male advertising executives reading quotes from women in their industry.

Though only two minutes long, the video sends a powerful message about gender parity — or the lack thereof — in marketing communications. Though women influence 70-80 percent of consumer purchasing, they make up only a fraction of those creating the advertisements behind these products. TBWA realized this and launched an internal initiative striving for gender equality in its workplaces last June. Progress was slow, prompting the agency to brainstorm ways to take its mission a step further.

"As the program progressed, we discovered that as long as women’s issues remain women's issues, only women will care," TBWA said in a statement. As unfortunate as this realization was, it inspired the company to launch Take the Lead, a multimedia campaign that illustrates the struggles women in advertising face on a regular basis — by having men voice them. The company conducted an international survey to see what women in advertising were concerned about, and then recorded male advertising executives reading their quotes ("I fear I won’t be taken seriously after a baby," for example) aloud. TBWA also released a series of posters that correspond with the Take the Lead video.

Though the claim that men only find women’s issues accessible when other men are discussing them is undoubtedly problematic (and warrants some internal addressing from TBWA's top executives), Take the Lead paints an impactful picture of gender discrimination in the workplace. If having men read women’s concerns gets the majority of the advertising industry to devote attention to gender parity issues, so be it — for now. At the least, the campaign creates a clever juxtaposition that shows just how absurd much (read: all) of the discrimination facing working women is.

Watch the Take the Lead video below.

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Photo Credit: TBWA