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The construction of gender and creativity in advertising creative departments

Kasey Windels (Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)
Wei‐Na Lee (College of Communication, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 2 November 2012




The purpose of this paper is to examine female creatives' perceptions as to why there are so few women working as creatives (art directors, copywriters, and creative directors) in advertising.


Interviews with 21 female creatives provided insights into reasons for underrepresentation. Inductive coding was used to allow themes and categories to emerge from the data. A social constructionist interpretation was used.


Since both gender and creativity are socially constructed, doing gender in the masculine creative department impeded progress and job satisfaction for women. Because women were held accountable both to the norms of the masculine field and to the norms of femininity, their performance suffered as they tried to succeed in an inequitable system.


This paper examines how being a woman operating within a masculine paradigm might be especially difficult in creative fields. Because creativity is constructed based on mostly male gatekeepers using masculinity as a model, women are devalued and unable to influence the field of gatekeepers.



Windels, K. and Lee, W. (2012), "The construction of gender and creativity in advertising creative departments", Gender in Management, Vol. 27 No. 8, pp. 502-519.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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