Women in Digital Marketing : What We Know and What We’ve Learnt

Beka Ventham

Digital Uncut is a progressive company that is dedicated to inclusion. This is why when a gender review was suggested, management relished the chance to identify opportunities to improve.

We found that 37% of our team is female across various stages of our careers. We have several senior executives and a few juniors across SEO, digital PR, PPC, web development and content.

In celebration of women’s day, we wanted to highlight what role gender currently plays in our industry, the progression that has been made, and what we have learnt in our careers thus far.

How Many Women are Working in the Marketing Industry?

In 1971 the gap was almost 40% and a decade ago it was 10.4%. The number of women working full time increased by 299,000 in 2021.

In March 2020, Simply Marketing Jobs found that in the marketing industry on average 53.96% women were looking for jobs compared to only 46.04% of men. They also found more women applying for job roles than men in;

  • Marketing manager
  • Digital marketing
  • Marketing executive
  • Marketing and sales
  • Copywriting
  • Brand management and more

In the UK, 34% of senior roles belong to women and 93% of UK businesses have at least one woman in a senior management role. In the US, 53.6% of marketing managers are women compared to 42.2% men.

Women in Web Development

In the US, only 23.6% of web developers are women. Our web developer has this to say about her experience in a male-dominated field:

“Sometimes it has been very frustrating because your male coworkers and sometimes male clients just completely disregard your opinions and suggestions because they don’t trust your expertise as a woman. I was once in a situation where a client completely ignored my suggestions in a call but then immediately accepted them when my male coworker repeated my suggestions. I mentioned the situation to my boss at the time after that and she said that I simply had to be okay with it because that was the way things were.

I have also been in situations where my boss at the time would tell me to just do things the way they are and not change anything or even make suggestions because they won’t work. So I felt that I was not valued and that my capabilities were limited. It felt like I was hired to check a diversity box.

However, once I joined Digital Uncut my experience has been completely different than with any other company I have worked for before. The team really embraces you and values you. I am very happy with the team and the clients. Never had an issue or felt uncomfortable just for the fact that I am a woman. On the contrary, I really do feel they appreciate that and are proud to have a diverse team and actually value us!

I do think though that this is closely related to culture as where I am from it is still very common to see discrimination against women and many women take it because that is what they know and are used to but with my recent trip to London, I realized how progressive and inclusive the culture is. So it makes me hopeful that one day we can all get there.”

The statistics show us that marketing is no longer such a male controlled field and with more women working plus the flexibility awarded largely thanks to the pandemic, we are finding ways to navigate an industry that has a history of being male saturated.

What about SEO and PPC?

SEO and PPC are more niche parts of marketing that have largely been male-dominated with very small shifts over the last 5 years. As far as applications for jobs in SEO and PPC go, 55.07% are male.

Finding data on paid search is a little harder and after trawling through Reddit conversations, reviewing marketing industry information we found very little to support any hypothesis.

However, when we reviewed the first four LinkedIn pages , we found the following when searching for;

  • ‘PPC specialist’ – 18 women to 22 men
  • ‘PPC executive’ – 17 women to 23 men
  • ‘PPC manager’ – 17 women to 19 men

A member of our PPC team who has just started her career says;

“I’m new to the PPC industry and so it is hard for me to personally assess whether there are particular issues or challenges for women in PPC as of yet. Within my team I am currently the only female and I feel supported and one of the team.

KPMG found that in 2020, 75% of executive women report experiencing imposter syndrome in their career. I’ve certainly experienced feelings of imposter syndrome since starting my new role, but it’s hard to determine if it stems from being a woman in a male-focused area or just being in a new high-pressure role within PPC itself”.

Women in Digital PR

PR is a female-led industry with an average age of 28.64% of employees in PR are women and 34% have children or dependents. The stereotyped reason for such a high number of women in the field is the emphasis on building personal relationships with clients and journalists.

“Before I started working at Digital Uncut, much of my initial experience was in broadcast and travel PR agencies, which – as the statistics show – were predominantly female. One agency I worked at had two men and around 15 women on the team (and one of those men was the accountant)!

I have personally found that within the PR industry, men tend to be in the CEO, MD, etc. roles and women make up the wider majority of the team, which can be an issue. Once I moved into digital marketing, I realised SEO has the opposite problem and is extremely male-dominated. However, as digital PR is something fairly new – compared to traditional PR – I do believe that it is bridging the gap between the two somewhat.

With PR as a whole, I do think that the main issue is racial and ethnic diversity. PR conferences I have attended pre and post covid have regularly featured discussions on this issue, so I would like to believe this is something employers have become more aware of.”

Whilst women lead in the PR field, there is minimal diversity and 91% of the women are white. PR have known about their diversity problem for years and whilst they hope the upcoming generations will be more equal, progress has been slow.

Flexibility in Marketing for Women

Flexibility makes a massive difference to men and women particularly in the marketing industry as so much can be done remotely.

 

We also know that up to 50% of UK workers are still working remotely which was a massive 37% increase due to the pandemic.

“Flexibility is fundamental for so many women in the workforce, particularly for mothers because without it they have to sacrifice their progression or their careers entirely. Over the years, I have worked for several companies in the past that shouted about how flexible they were. However, the team was highly micro-managed to the point where you had to account where you were every minute of the working day.

Working mothers can’t physically do what someone without dependents can do. It shouldn’t be about making allowances but making her role work with her life rather than creating an impossible situation. Flexibility allows for this, particularly when it is authentic. When I was employed by Digital Uncut, they knew I had young children and this wasn’t a factor in my employability, they assessed me on my experience, my skills, and my ability to fit into the culture. It is the first role I have had that followed through and has provided the flexibility that is autonomous.”

By offering a degree of flexibility your candidate pool opens up exponentially. This should be the standard for everyone who hopes for a healthy work-life balance. Particularly for mothers who cannot work without such considerations.

Conclusion

Every woman I know, including the women who have contributed here, have had negative experiences because of their gender. With dedicated companies, transparent discussions and sharing our stories we can start to make a small difference to the industry.

Happy Women’s Day to every woman, wherever you are on your journey. May you all find a role where you can excel regardless of your gender, dependents, marital status, sexuality, race or religion.

Here are some great global communities of women to get involved with;

Women in Tech SEO
Women in PPC

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