What I Learned from My Boss about Being a Woman in Marketing

How to be a woman in marketing
Note from the editor: This post was written by one of our content development interns, Danielle Brown. Danielle is an extremely bright and passionate student of Marketing at Georgia State University. -Mark Miller

Gender diversity, a topic appearing with more and more frequency these days, is making an impact on business leaders, top marketing headhunters, and job seekers alike.

It’s challenging for women to move up the ranks of business; marketing included.

In fact, that struggle is part of why MarketPro exists today. Our founder and CEO, Melissa Van Rossum, was prompted to create her own opportunity when she became unsatisfied with her career options in the corporate world.

Watch Her Story


Marketing career success for women is usually hard-fought, but not unattainable. Fortunately, women are slowly finding more opportunities and equality in compensation almost across the board. More and more smart, creative executive recruiters and companies are realizing the value of gender diversity at the highest levels of business.

An increasing amount of women are finding their ways into the ranks of digital and online marketing.

Male to female ratio in marketing

Data and charts from Moz.

Other marketing-related fields, like PR and communications, have even reached a women majority of 60% or more. Though even there, men retain a majority of senior management positions. “It’s all women out there,” said Sarahjane Sacchetti, currently VP of Marketing at Collective Health. “And the two people running it are dudes.”

Lots of senior marketing executive roles are filled by older men. Obviously experience plays a huge part; but how do you plot a course to those highest echelons of marketing operations if you don’t fall into that demographic? And how do you know what employers are hiring you for your expertise and not to fill quotas?

There are many sources such as WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) businesses and specialized diversity-centric marketing recruitment firms, who actively seek to fill high-level positions with more women professionals, that can guide you.

For some more perspective, I spoke with Olena Eaton, Head of Marketing here with the top marketing headhunters at MarketPro. She shared her personal experiences as a woman striving to push her career forward in marketing, and insights on what to look for when seeking job opportunities and what to expect in the future for gender diversity.

Stay Motivated, Continue Striving Toward Your Goals

Motivation and hard work will help you achieve success

The Head of Marketing’s experiences as a woman in a corporate environment stood as a representation of just how far gender equality has still to evolve in the workplace.

One experience in particular stood out to me. She told me a story about a job opportunity she came across earlier in her career, for a senior role at a well-established company. Eaton expressed she took part in series of interviews. On the last round of interviews, she flew out of state to the company’s HQ.

She believed the interview went well but stated, “I noticed the entire executive team, comprised of older white men, had no diversity at all–gender or minority”.

Eaton was then offered a job as a manager, a lesser role than what she initially was presented with. “I declined the offer and got up and left, I would never have the opportunity to move up there, they would never promote me.” The experience of being demoted (either formally in title or informally in the eyes of superiors) before even starting the job is an all-too-relatable experience for too many women in business.

Companies are stunting their growth by undervaluing high-performing women. A lack of diversity and support makes organizations less creative, less adaptable, and less able to cater to everyone in their market.

High performing women working in such organizations will look elsewhere for career growth rather than staying with a stagnant company and producing excellent work. Creative executive recruiters will find them and draw them to more fertile career grounds. Nevertheless, there is room for women to succeed and thrive.

Eaton tackles these outdated practices with encouraging words; “Stay motivated, keep working hard. You will sometimes feel undervalued but never give up because hard work and excellence always pay off.” As an aspiring student of marketing working towards a successful career, I found this truth to be motivational and inspiring. Often women have to work harder to prove a point, building us up to face challenges without fear, and find solutions with an unending tenacity.

What to Look for as a Woman When Considering Opportunities from Top Marketing Headhunters

How a woman should consider vacancies from the best marketing headhunters

Marketing has become a tenacious and adaptive discipline by necessity, forced to keep up with rapid market and technology evolution. Yet some companies are still stuck in the stone age when it comes to gender equality in the marketing department and elsewhere. Next time you’re seeking job opportunities, consider these factors in your list of “pros:”

  • Companies with diverse employee rosters, especially in upper management and leadership positions. Or companies that currently lack diversity, but are making a formalized, public and sincere effort to improve.
  • Companies’ track record for promoting women.
  • WBENC affiliation. Most companies  who have it will list it on their website. You can also check the Council’s certification directory.
  • Competitive and comprehensive maternity leave options. Even if you’re not expecting a child, such a policy is evidence that the company is considering the right things.

And consider these red flags that should make you think twice about committing part of your career towards a certain organization:

  • Lack of transparency on compensation standards across the organization.
  • No formal internal diversity and equality initiatives beyond the legal requirements.
  • A pattern of negative reviews and reports of harassment or unequal treatment by women on employer review sites like Glassdoor. Anonymous review sites can be unreliable, but if you see a large amount of the same complaints registered time and again, there’s likely some truth there.
  • No, or minimal, regularly required sexual harassment training.

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