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Marketing: A woman’s world?

Posted on 19/04/2011 by Emma Dadswell

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Women are better suited to marketing roles. This might sound controversial, but that’s according to top marketing professor, Mark Ritson of the University of Melbourne. Ritson argues that it is down to the way male and female brains are distinctly programmed, which results in them carrying out tasks and responding to situations differently.

He bases his argument on genetics, explaining that women are naturally more empathetic with others and can also pick up on non-verbal messages better than men. Because of this, he says they have a greater ability to express sympathy and understanding. Whilst this may sound a bit sweeping and perhaps generalised, a 2009 study in Spain comparing male and female teenagers gave similar results.  It found that not only could girls could demonstrate more cognitive and emotional empathy, but also as they aged the differences between the sexes increased.

As a marketer the skill of empathy is very important – listening to and understanding what your market wants is central to the success of a brand or product.  Without the ability to communicate correctly and effectively with consumers, value is lost and with that, brand loyalty. So perhaps Ritson does have a point?  But how does that relate to the way the marketing industry currently stands?  Figures from a Marketing Week survey show that the numbers of women in marketing is increasing.  In 2001 only 53% of respondents were female, rising to 61% in 2009.

So although women may feature prominently in the industry into which they appear to be well suited, it seems that the pay gap is increasing.  In 2001 there was a £4,500 difference between male (£40,600) and female Marketing Managers (£36,100), compared to Marketing Directors where the gap was just £2,700.   Compare that to 2009 and the gap appears to have widened with female Marketing Managers now getting nearly £10,000 less each year on average than their male peers. Among Marketing Directors, being male is worth £17,000 a year more than being female.

This is an area that surely needs addressing – and although there were initial steps to do so in the Equality Act, the Government has since decided not to take gender pay gap reporting forwards.  This move has been criticised and it will be interesting to follow developments in this area in the future.

We’d like to know whether you think that women are better suited to marketing, and if so why?  And if you have any comments about the pay differences, then please comment below.