As part of our International Women’s Day campaign, we’re celebrating the exceptional talent of women across PHMG. Our creative team is buoyed by a fantastic mix of diverse views and experiences – all combining to deliver a world-class product. We’ve taken the opportunity to speak to female representatives from Voice, Copy, Music, and Marketing, learning more about their experiences working in the creative sphere.
“Across the voiceover industry, in terms of working artists, gender split has very much evened out. Gender stereotypes, however, are still very much in play. Interestingly, the first VOs – used for cartoons and radio – were predominantly men, but in advertising the female voice has always been recognised as a powerful tool in establishing trust and empathy. I think a lot of this is to do with pitch – because women have higher-pitched voices, they come across as less threatening, and more emotive. Meanwhile, male voices tend to be more persuasive and powerful – making them a stronger choice for products like cars. Female voices do feature on car commercials now, but they’re notably lower in register – you’ll notice typically feminine traits like compassion and warmth in products aimed at parents, like nappies, milk, and baby shampoo; the sultry, seductive tone favoured by chocolate and luxury food brands; or the sassy, upbeat pitch of beauty and fashion advertisements. I don’t necessarily think this form of gender stereotyping is negative – If a certain tone or pitch evokes particular emotions in the target demographic, then it’s natural to capitalise on that in branding or product development. Relatability is key.”
“The way we approach gender identity is thankfully a huge topic in content creation right now. While we’ve made huge strides, the prevailing tone used to talk to and about women is perpetuating outdated perceptions. A good example is media portrayal of leadership races between men and women – a man might be ‘brave’ because he’s a war veteran, while the woman is ‘brave’ for merely being in the race with him. It’s an insidious way of signalling societal sexism while underlining it – the same way a male colleague might use a term of endearment towards a female co-worker but wouldn’t with a fellow male. For the most part, advertising still shows women as the primary homemakers and because it’s difficult for society to be what it can’t see, this reinforces the stereotype in real life. Overall, representation is defined by a narrow set of standards, and female identity is presented as extremely either/or, giving little room for the millions of possibilities in-between. These issues exist alongside a lack of visibility for female copywriters, which many cite is down to lack of confidence. However, rather than chastising women for not ‘putting themselves out there’ we need to investigate why that is. Often when we do assert ourselves, our actions are described as bolshy, sassy, pushy – words you won’t hear used to describe our male counterparts. We live in an age where we say women can be anything, and do anything they want – for this to be true, we have to change our everyday language.”
“Female artists have dominated the charts for the past few years, but despite this, a lack of representation in live events is still apparent. It’s disheartening to see festival line ups recycling the same male acts year after year when there’s a plethora of amazing female talent out there – not just because they deserve exposure, but because it sets the tone. Curators often argue there aren’t enough female acts suited to headline slots – but without a platform, you can’t grow. We need to amplify female musicians to show other women they have equal opportunity for progress. At the same time, women in entertainment can be scrutinised for their image and personal life, often falling victim to hostile press, while their male counterparts are illustrated as ‘troubled geniuses’. No one should be made to feel invalidated or intimidated because of outdated, sexist attitudes. When it comes to music technology, there’s a distinct lack of representation, so when I was starting out I felt like I didn’t fit in. I challenged myself to take a class in Music Software Applications – where I was the only girl in the class – and absolutely loved it! It made me realise that I’d been shutting myself off from creative pursuits simply because I’d assumed it wasn’t possible for me."
“My first experience of gender stereotyping in the professional sphere happened when I was at university. I remember telling people about my course – Business and Marketing – and getting reactions like, “oh, so colouring in and poster-making!” At this early stage in my career it was already apparent that the skill set required for marketing, and particularly for female marketeers, is underestimated. As time moves on, more businesses are understanding the data and technology involved. My advice to a female marketeer would be don’t be scared to raise your voice and be heard, and if you do make a mistake, you’ll learn from it – and your mistake could lead to a great idea and turn out to be something incredible and innovative. Be brave! For me, International Women’s Day is a day to recognise female achievements, successes, and accomplishments, but it’s also a reminder that we still have a long way to go, and it’s more important than ever that we express support for one another.”