The 3% Conference Addresses Women in Advertising

We have problems with many advertisements aimed at women. Often they claim to be for women, but are more often than not irritating, demeaning, and frustrating, and do very little for women. Advertisements often portray stereotypical notions of what women want, like, like to do, and should look like; they also attempt to sell products by making women feel guilty about the appearance of their bodies and all the (often made up) “imperfections” that are pitched in a way as to make women feel that they are useless and unattractive.  The advertisements that we recently wrote about are good examples of how not to advertise to women.

We have wondered who creates these advertisements that are so unappealing and make so many women feel bad about themselves. After reading our series, Kaidy Jimenez from White Book Agency got in touch with us about an upcoming event called the 3% Conference, which aims to bring some of the best minds in advertising, gender research and human resources to discuss and problem solve on the lack of female creative directors in the advertising industry.

Kat Gordon, the conference’s founder, shed some light on one possible reason for the way that women are represented in advertisements:

…one of the primary reasons why the messaging may be off is because there is only 3% of female creative directors behind the advertising content we see every day! Yes, only 3%. Female consumers control upwards of 80% of the purchasing power and many share the same feelings with you about advertisements – the humor is off, the premise is irrelevant and in some cases, even insulting.”

The lack of women in senior leadership positions in advertising and on the creative side is something that the conference, which is billed as a first-ever event for female creative directors, would like to change. The conference’s vision is “for something far greater than a one-time event. … We plan a vibrant worldwide online community that continues this important dialogue for years to come. And we plan a ‘brother’ conference – Guys Who Get It – in 2014 that celebrates the men who prosper by understanding how to market to women with respect and honesty.”

Gordon is also the founder and creative director of Maternal Instinct, an agency dedicated to marketing to mothers, and we appreciate that a person with an understanding of advertising aimed at women, markets to women.

On the conference website, Gordon asks, “[W]hy is the most powerful consumer segment in the world — women — not being marketed to from a place of understanding?” Exactly! Advertisements aimed at women repeatedly show no appreciation of women’s needs and wants. Instead they push for a perfection (both in looks and behavior) that is off-putting to women and that instead make us feel bad about ourselves.

The 3% Conference will be held on September 27, in San Francisco.


  1. Such a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

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