We Need A Seat At The Table Posted on | AdForum

Martha Soler, Planning Director at MullenLowe Mexico, speaks to AdForum about the challenges women in the industry face and who inspires her the most.

How would you describe the overall culture at your agency?

I think the agency has opened the conversation in a frank and honest way and has acknowledged there is a lot we still need to understand and change.

Do you think that women still face challenges in our industry, and if so, what are they? 

Women face challenges not only in the way they are represented in the advertising itself, but also, within the spaces of our industry.

The low percentage of female jurors at important festivals is just one indication of this. Recently, we’ve seen some festivals create special categories for women only, but in my opinion, in an ideal world, we wouldn’t need this. In real life, there are no such divisions when considering opportunities for jobs or promotions. We need a seat at the table.

How should we tackle an issue such as equal opportunity? 

This is such a big question. I don’t have all the answers but one way in which we can tackle this issue is looking at merit over quotas for hiring. These measures have raised awareness and action around the issue, but we should also be hiring/promoting the best person for the job, not just to tick a box.

We’re on the right track though, because women now understand they deserve nothing less than what their male counterparts are getting, both in terms of compensation and respect. This is a huge step in the right direction.

However, there are still cultural constructs in place that normalize certain beliefs and attitudes that will take an enormous amount of education and action to shift. It’s my hope that they’ll be broken by the next generation.

How did you find your way into the marketing communications industry, and what professional achievement are you most proud of?

I was really privileged to start my career working at Leo Burnett Mexico, at a time when the creative department was beginning to be led by an all-female power team, under an amazing boss, Charlie Blakemore, alongside Lourdes Lamasney, Ana María Olabuenaga, Lucero Lara, and after a lot of work and support, me. A lot of talent came out of those teams, many of whom are heading their own agencies today. I think being part a team that recognized and pushed this talent is one my biggest professional achievements.

Who inspires you the most, either inside the industry or outside? Why? 

Since this is about pioneering women, I would have to say Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. She was born so ahead of her time but found a way to pursue the knowledge and passions that were not afforded to her gender. She became such a gifted writer but had to become a nun to be able to embrace her talent.

She wrote brilliantly about inequality between men and women and the cultural constructs that allowed it to exist. I think this poem is as relevant today as it was then.

You foolish men who lay
the guilt on women,
not seeing you’re the cause
of the very thing you blame;
if you invite their disdain
with measureless desire
why wish they well behave
if you incite to ill.

You fight their stubbornness,
then, weightily,
you say it was their lightness
when it was your guile.

In all your crazy shows
you act just like a child
who plays the bogeyman
of which he’s then afraid.

With foolish arrogance
you hope to find a Thais
in her you court, but a Lucretia
when you’ve possessed her.

What kind of mind is odder
than his who mists
a mirror and then complains
that it’s not clear.

Their favour and disdain
you hold in equal state,
if they mistreat, you complain,
you mock if they treat you well.

No woman wins esteem of you:
the most modest is ungrateful
if she refuses to admit you;
yet if she does, she’s loose.

You always are so foolish
your censure is unfair;
one you blame for cruelty
the other for being easy.

What must be her temper
who offends when she’s
ungrateful and wearies
when compliant?

But with the anger and the grief
that your pleasure tells
good luck to her who doesn’t love you
and you go on and complain.

Your lover’s moans give wings
to women’s liberty:
and having made them bad,
you want to find them good.

Who has embraced
the greater blame in passion?
She who, solicited, falls,
or he who, fallen, pleads?

Who is more to blame,
though either should do wrong?
She who sins for pay
or he who pays to sin?

Why be outraged at the guilt
that is of your own doing?
Have them as you make them
or make them what you will.

Leave off your wooing
and then, with greater cause,
you can blame the passion
of her who comes to court?

Patent is your arrogance
that fights with many weapons
since in promise and insistence
you join world, flesh and devil.

Martha Soler, Panning Director, MullenLowe Mexico

This article was originally published on AdForum