Women have come a long way from 1908 when a purposeful march of 15,000 women demanded shorter work hours, better pay, and the right to vote in New York City. The strides of that march have paved way for a lot of awareness about the efforts for gender equality.
Advertising in general, has played an important role in influencing the progress of women, with its portrayal of both genders. The depiction of women especially, has evolved from models of domesticity to professional role models. In the 21st century, women are at the forefront of economic, political, social and cultural spheres, paving the way for the generations of the future.
While society itself is evolving, the International Women’s Day theme this year is #PledgeForParity, asking men and women, to commit to take action to achieve gender equality thereby accelerating gender parity.
To celebrate that progress, today we bring you an insightful conversation with Soniya Jain and Renita D’silva, two Sr. Account Managers at Gozoop, on gender equality in the media and more.
IMPACT 50 Most Influential Women in Media, Marketing and Advertising was judged by an all-male panel, what are your thoughts?
Soniya: Interesting, I don’t see any bias there. It’s about creativity. So I think, irrespective of gender; their work will speak for them.
Renita: It’s okay if there’s a good mix of male and female judges on the panel. Having an only male panel is like talking about parity and not giving the same weightage to opinions of both men and women. I am curious why there was an entire male panel of judges because it wouldn’t make any sense for only men to judge what women have achieved.
Have you faced any gender bias leading a large team?
Soniya: No. Interestingly, ours is an all-girl gang, led by Yogesh. In the past there have been brands who have asked us how women manage in an agency due to the pressure, the deadlines and the late nights. But as an industry I think, we have always been very clear that the onus is on work and creativity. In the digital space there are so many women and that itself is testament to the fact that work speaks louder than anything else.
Renita: Gozoop is a fairly gender neutral work place. The Digital Media space is not a traditionally male dominated industry and provides equal opportunity for both men and women. At my end, I always try and squash any sexist remark whatsoever. I make sure if there’s any sexism is around, I point it out and it’s nipped in the bud. Because a lot of people do not even realize that certain things would come across as being sexist. The first step is to make them realize that such a sort of remark is sexist and explain it to them. Most of the time they accept that they did not even know that.
How gender neutral are brands in the digital media space?
Soniya: Indian origin brands are going ahead and breaking stereotypes. There is an absolutely neutral approach in advertising. Nowadays, it’s not only taking a beautiful face and selling the products. For e.g. for Pride of Cows, I do not opt for pictures of only women on my creatives. There’s a mix of pictures with both men and women. Then ads like #ShareTheLoad that talk about household chores only being done by the woman, who is also a professional, and the father apologizing to his daughter, are all an attempt towards gender equality.
Renita: The tide is definitely turning, even in India. In the west, they have campaigns like ‘Like a Girl’, and in India, we have the Tanishq ad campaign for gender parity. But there is still, to an extent, the whole objectification of women in mainstream advertising. As far as digital is concerned, we try and make sure that there isn’t anything sexist going up. Right now the onus is on us. As brand managers and custodians, if there is anything sexist happening on an advertising or an offline level, it is our duty to tell the client. The audience online is very evolved and sensitive to these issues. The gender neutral approach might also be due to the fact that there are more women in the industry. Even advertising at one point was a male dominated industry. So the change might be also due to the sensitization of women’s rights, and it is definitely turning for good.
Your views on #ShareTheLoad by Ariel
Soniya: Again, both these ads are breaking the whole stereotype we earlier talked about. There is definitely a change in perception. Ads like these are educating the society, that laundry is not only a woman’s job, it is time to share the load, balance it out.
Renita: Ariel’s #ShareTheLoad is something I liked, challenging cultural norms that laundry is a woman’s job. This sort of sparks the entire conversation about how men are getting into women’s shoes, helping carry the load. It isn’t that a lot of men are not helping out, but an ad like this gives them a platform to talk about it as well. I think this is one of the best campaigns in recent times.