Part 3 in a 3-part series on women in marketing
There’s a lot to love about the award-winning show Mad Men – especially if you’re in the marketing, communication or advertising industries yourself. However, if you’re a woman and a believer in equal rights, much of the show can be hard to swallow. This is what makes Peggy Olson, as a character, so fascinating.
Peggy comes a long, long way from her humble beginnings as Don Draper’s nervous young secretary in the first season – eventually climbing her way to the highest ranks at her New York advertising company as a head copywriter. The industry is dominated entirely by men of course as the show is set in the late 1960s before the second or third waves of feminism hit corporate America. Peggy faces incredible sexism and discrimination, making her journey to the top as a young woman especially compelling.
While the sexism never completely disappears, Peggy’s skin thickens as the series progresses. In the final episode of Mad Men, she’s a whole new woman it seems – negotiating huge client deals, spearheading million dollar campaigns, and fearlessly drinking and smoking among the ‘old boys club’ after hours.
Peggy may have been a fictional character, but her struggle resonates being that workplace sexism is an unfortunate reality for countless women in marketing since the industry’s inception. As we’ve explored in the previous two blogs in this series, discrimination is still prevalent for many women in our field and still has a stubborn tendency to hinder our success.
That being said, there are an increasing number of women stepping up, breaking this infamous ‘glass ceiling’ and carving new paths for the women that follow. As women in marketing, we can certainly take solace in the great strides we’ve made since the era Mad Men took place in.
Today, more and more women are making their mark on the industry, we should both celebrate and expect that. Here are a few Canadian examples of marketing leadership:
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