Less than a fifth of the creative industry’s top award winners were female in 2017, according to the latest figures released through The Drum Big Won Rankings — research examining the top performing creative business and people working in advertising all around the world.
This year's rankings, which were previewed last week, found that only 18.8% of the people featured on the list of top industry award winners were women.
The research into the most awarded people, agencies and creative work included 4,586 separate pieces of work from 1,886 agencies and involved 737 executive creative directors, 387 chief creative officers, 2,279 creative directors, 411 creatives, 1,485 copywriters, 1,846 art directors, 214 planners and 731 designers.
The top 20 most awarded chief creative awards rankings were led this year by Ant Keogh from The Monkeys and the list featured only three women. The same number of women also featured in the top 20 executive creative director list and only one women was among the top 20 creative directors.
Three women appeared in the copywriting top 20, while just four were featured in the the art director rankings.
The lists were compiled by calculating a points total (or score) from winners, which was pooled from a global array of the industry's top awards, including; D&AD, Cannes Lions and the Clios, among many more.
In reaction to the research, SheSays co-founder and chief chief creative at Mr President Laura Jordan Bambach, explained to The Drum the reasons for the discrepancy around gender within the awards results.
“From fewer women in positions of leadership, to many awards shows still having a gender bias on juries, to the fact that research from Creative Equals this year has shown that women don’t pitch or work on the ‘award winning’ clients as often.
"My advice to young female creatives is to make sure that your name is on every project you touch - every great piece of work you are part of will make it harder to ignore your talent in the future, and will build your reputation and future awards prospects.”
Meanwhile Creative Equals founder Ali Hanan described the figures as “shocking”, but said she was not surprised.
She said: “Looking at the macro data from a number of different companies, we see this; women's careers simply aren't progressed in the same way as their male colleagues.
"They are less likely to be given key assignments. With male bosses who are comfortable giving career-building comments to those who look and sound like they do, women don't get the same quality of feedback on their work.
"They feel less valued in their roles. They are unclear what they need to do to get promoted. They are half as likely to have training or gain access to the training budgets. And this plays out in who makes it to senior positions and who wins the awards.”
Hanan called on the companies working within the creative industries to self assess who is progressing and to make a change.
“The shop floor is where careers are broken or built. It's time we started building. This set of data from The Big Won has to be a barometer for every year that follows. We will know change is happening where it counts - the shop floor - when these numbers shift,” she concluded.
Words by Stephen Lepitak and Sonoo Singh