Unfortunately, it’s pretty well-known that there is an underrepresentation of women in senior positions, but last week MAD//Fest was on a mission to help erase that by shifting the perception, so it’s less of an exception and more of a norm.

A large theme was chosen to highlight and celebrate female leadership and provide them with networking opportunities. This program focused on finding the innovation and inspiration from having representation in the industry and how it can contribute to evolution. A common denominator for many women is that it isn’t always an easy time in the workplace, so having allies and a network is important in maintaining motivation through it all, for better or worse.

How this took shape for MAD//Fest was The Female Leaders' Bar. This was the idea of prominent industry leaders - Street Agency founder Katie Street, The Advisory Collective Founder Ellie Edwards Scott, and The Digital Voice founder Julia Linehan. There were thousands of attendees at this year’s MAD//Fest, and there was never a quiet moment at the bar. Even though female empowerment was naturally understood as the theme, everyone was welcome to support and attend talks at the bar regardless of gender.

One notable talk between Ellie Edwards Scott and Caroline Manson, Marketing Director at Anzu, was about the simple yet effective ways companies can help women thrive in tech. They discussed that while diversity and inclusivity are said to be welcome in the industry, whether enough is being done is still up for debate. “Actions are needed. Women across the business need to see the company they work for taking action rather than just internal discussions or sharing the odd social media post about female empowerment,” said Caroline.

A sentiment that was frequently expressed by these women is that they don’t see themselves as ‘female leaders’ but rather as ‘leaders.’ As it was stated that men do not refer to themselves as ‘male leaders’, so there shouldn’t be this emphasis on gender. This is something that was echoed and felt by the audiences that watched the speakers, many of them consistently nodding along in agreement at every word. Another common topic of conversation was even though women do have ambitions, the confidence to make them real can be hard to find because of bad experiences or outdated expectations of what women are able to achieve in their careers, which is only starting to be redefined. 

It wasn’t all about calling out old-fashioned norms with the leaders, though. It was encouraged that inspiring leadership can come from anywhere. Even in the female space, more often than not, the mold is female leaders are white, middle-class, and neurotypical, but you could see at MAD//Fest that it’s much more dynamic than that. This point was reflected in the diverse line-up of women leaders, who all had distinct backgrounds, and came from different regions of the world. 

While the future is looking stronger, it’s not expected that change will happen overnight, but focusing on this at industry-leading events like MAD//Fest demonstrates a commitment to seeing that change through. While this was a celebration of female leadership, the real inspiration is how it can lead to addressing inequalities in the advertising and marketing industries. There is still a lot to be done, but it feels like we are finally starting to move in the right direction.

Anzu is the most advanced intrinsic in-game advertising solution. Find out more here:  https://www.anzu.io