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Advertising Week 10th Anniversary Official Guide

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Page 176 of 333

AW2017 175 THE KARDASHIANS. That's who high school girls in England cited as the most influential women in media when asked that question in a recent video about role models. If you were to ask any American girl they would likely say the same. Sheryl Sandberg, Christiane Amanpour, Anna Wintour, or any other number of pow- erful women don't come close to inspiring that same level of awe as Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney. In today's world, unattainable Instagrammability over- shadows smarts and defines success. "There needs to be more emphasis on how much we can achieve rather than how we look," said one astute teen in the video, produced by the Female Lead, a U.K.-based nonprofit organization founded in 2012 that's dedicated to making women's stories more visible—and their achievements attainable—by showcasing realistic role models. Wait—shouldn't we be past this by now? After all, more women graduate from college today than men, more are becoming leaders of industry, and let's not forget, the U.S. nearly elected a woman president. This is just as confusing to Edwina Dunn, the founder of The Female Lead. Dunn is a pioneer of big data who cofounded the global consumer-science com- pany Dunnhumby, which created the Tesco grocery loyalty card and served megabrand clients like Pepsico and P&G. Since retiring from Dunnhumby, Dunn has launched a new business, Starcount, which looks at global social media data, tracking what consumers fol- low and the media and influencers that affect them. She and her team approached the role model co- nundrum the scientific way: with hard data. "One of the things that we've analyzed is what [14-16-year- old] girls follow on social media versus what boys follow," she says. "Boys follow things that are quite diverse: sports, politics, business, gamers," Dunn explains. "But girls essentially follow celebrity or fashion. If you were being very simplistic, you'd take that to mean boys are more interested in what people do and girls are more interested in how they look." And that makes her worry that if girls are constantly seeing that what society values most is their looks, then the sense of what they actually do becomes minimized—and even unachievable. For their research, she and her team at the Female Lead interviewed 1,500 women from all over the world and archived their stories. Sixty of them are in her book, The Female Lead: Women Who Shape Our World. She and photographer Brigitte Lacombe created por- traits of women from a variety of backgrounds who have achieved success in a range of industries including, but not limited to, physics, technology, film, astronomy, publishing, and engineering. To ensure their stories reach young girls, Dunn is donating 18,000 copies of her book and its accom- panying video series to schools in the U.K. and the U.S., and is hosting special events and programs in London and New York in the coming months that will showcase the diversity of women role models. Of course, media have long relied on female stereotypes in their storytelling. Part of the prob- lem? Men are still in charge of the storylines. Only 11 percent of creative directors are female, including those who work in advertising. Thought leaders like Dunn are now challenging storytell- ers to open up the definition of female success to reflect real women, in real life. The fact is, female success comes in all forms, not just as CDs or CEOs, but in every division of business. As more women take on leadership roles in tradition- ally male-dominated fields, such as data science in Dunn's case, the perceptions of successful women will change. However, making these areas of industry ap- pealing to women can be a challenge. How do you get more women interested in the tech side of advertising, for instance? Dunn thinks it's about showing them the purpose they could serve: "Women want to know that their role matters," she explains. "We need to share what the tech- nology does for its consumers. We need to show that there is a real team spirit and collaboration, not just a set of techie prerequisites. If the team is 'divide and conquer,' women will never want to be part of it." And for those women—and men—who are currently working on the creative side of the biz? What can you do to further this cause now? Dunn encourages you to show a broader range of successful women in your creative products. She cites Sue Unerman, Chief Strategic Officer at Mediacom and author of the recent book The Glass Wall, which addresses the issues that still hold women back in the workplace and gives them strategies to combat them. Or Limor Fried, the electrical engineer (who happens to have pink hair) who owns the California-based firm Adafruit and employs 500 female engineers. Find out ways to tell their stories—that's who Dunn says she wants girls to be talking about. Because it comes down to feeling that what you do is valued and gives value to your life. "I have had a brilliant career," Dunn says definitively. "I want more girls and women to feel as fulfilled as I have."

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