Are Women Better Off On Madison Avenue Than In Silicon Valley?

Sarah DaVanzo is Chief Cultural Strategy Officer at Omnicom agency Sparks & Honey. No, I'm not going to bash the fact that the agency has invented yet another silly title for account planner. Nope. In fact, I'm going to laud the agency for hiring DaVanzo and, as well, laud her insights regarding women in the workplace and how things have changed over the years.

In an interview with the Huffington Post about the role of women in business and the traits women have which allow them to excel, DaVano noted. "I'm sensitive to growing misandry as a backlash to misogyny. Women (Feminists) need strategies to effect change and female empowerment that do not pit 'us' against 'them.' We've entered the era of the Collaborative Economy (a.k.a. sharing economy) so 'we-ness' is key to future success. Think: Uber, AirBnB, Kickstarter and TaskRabbit. Women are innate team players so they should excel in a sharing economy. Yet, the Collaborative Economy is a very male-dominated, silicon-valley topic and industry, so men are shaping its future. Women need to learn more about this movement, which is impacting every aspect of business, so they can leverage their gender skills and get ahead of this trend."

Ah yes. Silicon Valley. We might as well rename the region the Playboy Club Peninsula, a place where men appreciate women not for their brains but for their beauty, where men give women gentle and encouraging pats on the butt for a job well done, where men, hopped up on millions of VC money, walk around like pimps and expect women to be their escorts, where men, in the presence of women, pretend everyone's a team player until the women are out of earshot and then it's all "I'd like to bang that b*tch" to their buddies.

OK, back to advertising. Sure, the proverbial Madison Avenue has its problems when it comes to women in the workplace but from all I've seen, the ad world is a far more friendly place for a woman that Silicon Valley appears to be. Then again, I'm a man so I really don't have any right to bestow insight on the state of women in the workplace. But DaVanzo has every right and she's shared some great insights in the interview.

DaVanzo urges more women to embark upon studies and careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and adds, I'm often the only female in a room or conference of futurists. This means that our futures are being shaped by only 50% of the world with a one-sided perspective. We need more women in futurism and participating in the Collaborative Economy. If women aren't participating in these spaces they will be left behind. To paraphrase Malcolm X, 'the (wo)man who sees the future, shapes the future.



1 comment about "Are Women Better Off On Madison Avenue Than In Silicon Valley?".
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  1. Tom Messner from BONACCOLTA MESSNER, February 9, 2015 at 8:46 a.m.

    Advertising was ahead of all industries except nursing and primary school education in offering opportuinities for women. As for Silicon Valley versus Madison Avenue, there may be an argument why going west if you're interested in the ad/promotion business makes sense. Madison Avenue became "Madision Avenue" because the media were there. Broadcasting and national print. Even when CBS moved to "Television City" the media sales remained at 485 Madison and later Blackrock. Rumor has it that the center of media has moved or is moving to San Jose or whatever the town is there.

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