What It’s Like For Women To Work In Social Media Marketing
Women have made some great strides in the workplace over the last 50 years, but there’s still a long way to go.
Issues like sexual harassment, inadequate maternity leave policies, power imbalances, and pay inequality continue to linger despite heightened public awareness. You’d think that the marketing industry would face less of these problems considering it’s a female-dominated workforce, but sadly it’s not the blissful feminine paradise we’d all like it to be!
History of women working in the UK
Employment of women has risen dramatically in the UK, with recent statistics showing 76.3% of women aged 16-64 were in employment in 2019 compared to 52.7% of women in 1971. Legislation such as the Equality Act 2010, updates to the Employment Act 1996, and Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014 have helped to make women feel more welcome and included in the workforce. More women are focusing on their careers, putting child-rearing on hold, or choosing to remain child-free. Meanwhile those who do pursue parenthood can balance work and family with more flexible hours and part-time positions available.
Women as social media users
Since social media platforms have grown in popularity and usage, women have been credited as the most “online” demographic. Although male users dominate Twitter, women represent the majority on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram. Jokes are often made about younger women taking selfies to post on Instagram, while older women get ridiculed for their Facebook feuds and WhatsApp memes. But with the growth of ecommerce through social media, women have become a powerful target audience – the online shopper.
Women in social media marketing
It’s now more important than ever for brands to tailor their social media ads towards female consumers, meaning that it’s beneficial for them to hire female staff for their marketing teams. For this and other reasons, digital marketing has become a women-dominated industry. You’d think this would be a positive step towards pay equality, but unfortunately women are often hired in positions considered less skilled and lower ranking, while men claim the top management positions and the higher pay.
Career barriers for women in the UK
Shared Parental Leave Regulations was British law acknowledging that women do not have to be the default caregivers of their children, yet it only became official in 2014. We all know how long it takes for social norms to change, so it’s not surprising to see that most people applying for parental leave are still women. We see women taking time off to have children and then sacrificing their careers in order to care for them through their schooling years.
This isn’t inherently a problem as many women appreciate the opportunity to spend this time bonding with their children, but for women who would like to advance their careers a résumé gap can set them back in a big way compared to their male counterparts. Taking just a few years out of the workplace can ensure they never reach the same management positions or receive the same salary increases as men who don’t take this leave, and they might not be guaranteed the opportunity to go back to their original jobs. We need to continue to equalise the opportunities for men and women to prioritise whatever is important to them – whether that be career advancement or building a family.
The future of women in the workforce
We’ve already pointed out that there is still a lot to do to ensure true gender equality in the British workforce, let alone in the marketing industry, but there’s a lot to be optimistic about! Here at Sunshine, we’re lucky enough to have a female founder who enacts policies designed to eradicate any inequalities between the genders. In the UK, the more we talk about issues like shared parental leave and the pay gap, and the more we refuse to accept certain practices just because “that’s the way it’s always been done”, the more likely we are to enact real change in the years to come. Keep fighting the good fight!
[Note: Within this article, we refer specifically to men and women as the available statistics are unfortunately gathered along this gender binary. We hope future reporting will acknowledge the full range of gender identities and expressions.]
Written by our copywriter Katie Dennison