Post-pandemic, I’m looking at what I want my life to look like and what I want to do to make money. And it might not be continuing to work in agencies–especially after reading this piece by Zoe Scaman about misogyny in the ad industry: Mad Men, Furious Women.

…how challenging it is to navigate the pervasive ‘bro culture’ which remains the dominant dogma in agencies today; the desperate need to ‘fit in’ or else risk being booted out, with women feeling that they MUST participate or else be penalised…

The energy it takes to play along, to pretend it’s all just ‘banter’, whilst also watching your every move and every word, in case you come across as too meek, too brash, too abrasive, too confident, not confident enough, too sensitive or just ‘too much’ requires superhuman strength.

And while we’re using up a huge chunk of our mental and emotional capacity on this stuff, day-in and day-out, we’re also expected to work at pace, to deadline, to dream up ideas, strategies, manage challenging clients and not fall over.

[…] trying to fit within agency culture seemed to not only impact women’s ability to rise within ad agencies, but also their desire to. Many had just had enough.


Reading this was way too familiar. Bosses that expect you to laugh at off-color “jokes”? Check. Men getting paid more than me because “they have a family”? Check. Management that allows clients to harass employees because “they’re our biggest client”? Fuck those guys, and check.

I haven’t had a female boss in fifteen years. I currently don’t even have a female team member. And I’m never going to be a boss at my current agency, either. Reading this made me realize why (beyond entrenched sexism and three levels of male bosses, of course): Women my age have had enough and get out, exactly like I’m considering.

Throughout my career, I’ve joked about using my powers for good instead of using them to sell people shit and grease the wheels of capitalism, but maybe now really is the time. “You didn’t just survive a pandemic to put up with this,” after all.