'Gender gap always there,' exec laments

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A gender gap continues to challenge the ad community.

Males consistently are paid more than females for same-level positions in non-strategic management levels.

According to a study by Advertising Age and Irwin Broh & Associates, a market research company, male pay ranges from 1.08 times the base salary for a female lead account planner to 1.31 times for a female media director.

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At strategic positions, the range is slightly higher. Male associate creative directors, creative directors and chief technology officers are paid 1.1 times the base pay for females in those positions; male chief financial officers and CEOs, on the other hand, command salaries 1.4 times those of females, according to the Advertising Age Salary Survey report.

The Midwest tends to offer closer spreads between the genders, and the East, wider spreads, though the East sample is smaller than the Midwest and is subject to a greater range of accuracy.

Agencies of $45 million-plus in gross income are the beacon for gender parity. At this level, male media directors hold a slight advantage in base pay of only $2,200, and male account execs, a $3,200 advantage. The number of agencies this size is statistically small, only 15 (7% of survey agencies), but they represent 30% of the employee base from which salaries are gathered.

The survey indicates the gap in gender pay for all agencies is closing for female lead account planners, chief financial officers and associate creative directors, but widening for CEOs, creative directors and media directors.


"It seems the gender gap will always be there," laments Pat Fafara, director of finance at Euro RSCG Tatham, noting it's a perception that proves to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. "I think many agencies believe they can get by hiring a women for less than they'd pay a man for the same job," she says, "so they do."

Part of the reason for the gap is that men most often are doing the hiring, believes Sara Jones, chief financial officer at Sawyer Riley Compton in Atlanta. "Whether an old wives' tale or not, the rationale is that an agency can't get as much out of a woman as a man. After all, a woman has a home life and children. This idea has been around for years," she says.

"Men find it easier to ask for money, too," says Cindy Becker, business manager at Vitro-Robertson, San Diego. "It is harder for women to think they are worth it. But that will change eventually."

Ms. Becker says education level, experience and mobility don't weigh in against women any more. "I see a lot of women with children in our agency who haven't had a problem moving," Ms. Fafara adds.

Account execs and art directors, involving bases of 1,561 and 852 respondents in the survey, respectively, offer the best prospect for the most accurate averages.


Male art directors, who outnumber their female counterparts 1.7-to-1, are paid $3,000 more than female art directors. The tolerance range to achieve a 95% confidence level for art director averages puts higher-paid women within the arc of lower-paid men given the male tolerance range of plus or minus $2,160 vs. $2,555 for women.

The East offers the greatest gender parity for art directors. Men average only $100 more than women.

Male account execs get $6,000 more than female account execs, who outnumber men 2.1-to-1. Half the women and men are paid from $40,000 to $59,999 while 20% of men draw base pay from $60,000 to $79,999 vs. 14.7% for women.

The South widens the account exec gap with average pay of $42,300 for women against the U.S. average of $47,000 for women. The East again holds up the equal pay banner, pegging women account execs at an average $50,300 vs. $54,000 for men, also the highest of the regions.

The media director tolerance range this year is narrower than in '99. The base salary for women media directors is plus or minus $5,352 the average; for men it's $8,790.

"We have this awesome media director who mentioned in her job interview that she had school-age children. Try as I might [in that interview] I couldn't help but wonder about the level of her commitment, and whether she could travel," admits a woman agency executive.


"There is a sort of old boy network," says Steve Addis of Addis, a Berkeley, Calif., branding agency, and if a glass ceiling truly exists, he thinks it's driven by a minority. Mr. Addis is the only male on the board at his agency.

"I don't see a gender gap," says Drew Neisser, president, Renegade Marketing Group, New York. "If there is one, you can send over all those qualified, underpaid women."

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