"There's a place in hell for women who don't help women"
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO
I'd never made a personal ad before. And now Roxy and I were running round London, sticky tape in hand, feverishly trying to get as many ads up as we could before getting caught.
Sitting in our apartment the night before we'd reading up for the first time on International women's day, the theme this year: Inspire Change.
We work in the music and creative industries and recently had felt there must be more to life than helping a band further their career, or changing perceptions of a soda brand. When you look at it like that, what were WE doing to "inspire change"?
And what does the concept of "feminism" actually means in the current age? Is inequality even an issue? Hasn't that battle largely been won?
Globally, women are under represented at the top in politics world-wide by 85%and over represented at the bottom; we make up 70% of the worlds impoverished. But when you aren't actively part of either of those demographics and reside in a world as 'progressive' as the creative industry, you can be lead to think that inequality is something that happens to 'other women'. But even in our industry inequality is still rife, creative men still out-earn women by a sizable 20% in the UK and a whopping 49.2% in the USA. The numbers for men in higher-level positions are staggering as well, ranging from 86%of digital creative roles, to 75% of art directors and copywriters being male.
But who, or what holds the power to change these figures? Can we really make a difference with, or 'Inspire Change'? We believe we can; with female to female role modeling and mentoring.
Recent studies have shown female role modelling to be a huge factor in female success. There has been an incredible study created in India recently. In villages with female political leadership, research showed the gender gap in adolescent educational attainment was erased, and young girls beliefs about their abilities changed. They were less likely to want to be a housewife. They were more likely to want to graduate. The impact of women leaders reflects the 'role model effect'.
This effect iscausing a ripple of change in India, but what about closer to home? In a recent study on the television and broadcast industry in the UK,successful women were questioned about what had contributed to their success, and the top three factors were: Strong Female Influences, Early Creative Leaning, and Role Models and Mentors (specifically female).
With all of these findings stacking up around us, Roxy and I realized not only how we could benefit from role modeling and mentoring in our own lives but also began to wonder, could we be role models ourselves? What was holding us back?Opportunity? Confidence?
Perhaps when we are talking about women's difficulties across the globe, our issues and inequalities might not seem that important. When you have big issues at the top with politics and the bottom with poverty, does the 'middle ground' really matter?
Creative women are a really important part of this issue, and an integral link in the chain of change. It's worth remembering that we in the creative community have the talent and the power to change people's behaviour. That's our job, our livelihood. And there is no good reason why our skills of persuasion cant be applied to shaping our world into a better place. Imagine creating a movement of women who can inspire each other to be the best possible women we can be?
This isn't about 'other women'. The onus lies on us, and the change should start with ourselves. We could hold the power, we could shift those figures and perhaps start a chain of events that shift perceptions too.
We were inspired to start a change. We wanted to find mentors and even inspire other women ourselves, and perhaps start a chain of events with kick ass women to join us.
So Roxy and I have begun the first small steps of our mission by spreadingour personal ads across London lampposts, headed 'Female Role Model Wanted'. It's a small step, but one we invite you to take with us. If you want to be a part of this movement as a mentor or mentee, follow us at @rolemodelwanted or email firstname.lastname@example.org and lets start inspiring change.