How Women in Marketing Are Advancing in the New World of Work

June 29, 2021

Three women collaborating in an office setting

Editor’s note: This is the fourth and final post in our “The Changing Marketing Jobs Landscape" series. Read the firstsecond and third posts now.

It’s a question on the mind of change-makers and equality-minded business leaders across the marketing universe: Where does equity stand in the industry — gender, race and otherwise — and how can we keep pushing it forward? We combined data on gender and jobs from LinkedIn's platform with research from ANA, McKinsey and others to look into this question.

Let’s start out with some positive news: In North America, the gender split for marketing roles features strong female representation, with new data showing that 60% of professionals occupying this function are women.

Better yet, women are successfully ascending the ladder, accounting for 53% of director-level or higher positions, and 59% of manager-level positions. 

Now, the bad news: racial diversity among these roles is lagging behind, and pretty significantly. While 52% of Chief Marketing Officers are women, only 13% of all CMOs have racially diverse backgrounds, a field that includes Asian, Latina and Black women.

While the percentage of women CMOs rose from 2019 to 2020 (47% to 52%), the percentage of racially diverse CMOs actually declined. Black women, in particular, are struggling to advance. 

The following infographic digs a little deeper into the state of gender and racial diversity in marketing today, with an eye on identifying key opportunities.

(An important caveat before we get started: Gender identity isn’t binary and we recognize that some LinkedIn members identify beyond the traditional gender constructs of “male” and “female.” However, LinkedIn gender data is inferred on the basis of first name and pronouns, both used and implied, and currently does not account for other gender identities. As members begin to self-report gender, we will be able to share more inclusive gender data.)

Women in Marketing Are Taking Charge

Anyone who’s watched an episode of Mad Men has a concept of how problematic the gender (and racial) imbalance of power and equity in marketing was in the not-too-distant past. Through this lens, these numbers are encouraging:

  • In North America, women have higher representation than men in marketing roles, 60% to 40%. This contrasts the overall professional pool, which slightly favors men at 53% to 47%.
  • The contrast is even starker when you start zeroing in on leadership roles. While women hold 53% of all director-plus-level roles in marketing, this is true for just 37% of such roles in the overall cross-functional sample. For manager-level positions, the disparity is 59% to 41%. 

Those organizations that empower women are seeing the benefit. According to a 2018 McKinsey report, companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability, and 27% more likely to have superior value creation.

You might ask: Which specific industries have the greatest representation of women in marketing? We might answer.

Real Estate and Wellness & Fitness Lead the Way for Female Representation

More than 70% of marketing roles in Real Estate and Fitness & Wellness are represented by women. Nonprofit, Health Care, and Education follow in line with 65% or more. In fact, all of the following industries have female representation in at least 60% of jobs:

  • Real Estate (71%)
  • Wellness & Fitness (70%)
  • Nonprofit (68%)
  • Health Care (66%)
  • Education (65%)
  • Retail (63%)
  • Consumer Goods (62%)
  • Corporate Services (62%)
  • Construction (61%)
  • Recreation & Travel (60%)
  • Finance (60%)

If you’re a woman who is interested in joining these ranks, or you’re looking to make a move within the marketing space, you might wonder which titles have the highest volume of and greatest demand for female employees. 

The Hiring Landscape for Women Marketers

In comparing 2021 to 2020, these are the 10 fastest-growing job titles for women in marketing:

  1. Director of Growth
  2. Account Strategist
  3. Creative Strategist
  4. Campaign Manager
  5. Search Engine Optimization Manager
  6. Community Manager
  7. Digital Director
  8. Social Media Coordinator
  9. Digital Media Specialist
  10. Senior Product Marketing Manager

In terms of the big picture, these job titles have the highest total number of women represented:

  1. Marketing Manager
  2. Marketing Director
  3. Marketing Specialist
  4. Marketing Coordinator
  5. Social Media Manager
  6. Marketing Consultant
  7. Digital Marketing Specialist
  8. Digital Marketing Manager
  9. Vice President Marketing
  10. Social Media Marketing Specialist

Despite strong representation and demand in these roles, women are seemingly showing hesitation to pursue opportunities. Our data shows that while men and women view job listings at a similar rate, women are 15% less likely to apply for them than males. Women are 18% less likely than men to apply to a marketing job after viewing it, and when they do, they're 8% less likely to apply for jobs of higher seniority. 

For some, it’s a great time to be a woman in marketing. Don’t be afraid to take advantage. Meanwhile, when it comes to racial diversity there is a clear impetus on the business world to effect change.

Racial Equity Lags Behind

As mentioned earlier, there is much progress to be made on the ethnic and racial equity front in marketing. ANA’s annual report on diversity in marketing and advertising found that CMOs and equivalents are overwhelmingly white, to a degree that is greatly out of balance with the broader population sample: only 12% are Black, Latina or Asian.

While 13.4% of Americans identify as Black or African-American, Coqual (formerly the Center for Talent Innovation) finds that only 3.2% of senior leadership roles at large U.S. companies are held by Black people. And tying this back to the gender conversation, we find perhaps the most problematic disconnect.

Black Women Are “Severely Underrepresented” in Leadership

So concludes McKinsey in its latest Women in the Workplace study, and there is really no other conclusion to be reached. For every 100 men that advance to a managerial role, only 58 Black women do, compared to 80 white women and 72 women overall. 

There is no shortage of brilliant, talented Black women marketers and creatives out there. We highlighted a handful in our recent Marketers to Watch round-up and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. After all, Black women are the most educated demographic in the country. It is incumbent on current leaders throughout the business leadership sphere — marketing and beyond — to knock down barriers and create pathways for this severely underrepresented cohort. 

Keep Pushing Forward for Greater Diversity in Marketing

Viewing all this data together, it’s clear that while marketing has achieved strong gender balance overall, there are blatant inequities within this that need to be addressed. 

What can you do? We recently shared some guidance around how marketing departments can build racially diverse leadership. We also recommend taking in the perspectives of inspirational women of color, leaders such as Gail Moody-Byrd, Naomi Assaraf, Zontee Hou and Luvvie Ayaji Jones. (You can click on their names to read their LinkedIn interviews, many of which touch on combating inequality and driving inclusiveness.) 

Above all, recognize the problem and commit to being part of the solution. When it comes to diversity in marketing, much progress has been made, but we’ve still got work to do.

Download the full infographic to explore gender diverstiy in marketing and subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing Blog to stay on top of trends and the state of the profession.