Not playing the boys' game.
I should have known better, but it was a Friday and I had some time on my hands.
Against my better judgement, I answered a call out:
"Looking for a great - senior creative writer or team to work on a pitch next week"
I knew a young, bearded ECD would never see why I was up for the job.
But I did get an insight into who I was up against.
Senior male creatives posted links to their folios.
My first reaction was, "Oh fuck, my stuff doesn't look anything like theirs"
Then I started examining it with an open mind, I genuinely wanted to see if I was out of my league, doing something wrong or totally out of touch.
There was some nice stuff, but I didn't see a single idea that was wildly original. The scriptwriting needed a lot more polish and the devices masquerading as ideas needed a lot less.
To me, it all looked the same.
Which reminded me of being one of the first girls in woodwork at school. I was five years behind the boys when equal opportunity legislation came in so I had a lot of catching up to do. Fortunately, I had the most amazing teacher, Mr Weir, who was one of the first feminists I ever met, he taught me to make a perfect dovetail joint.
But he couldn't help me with the O level exam. To this day, I reckon disgruntled men at the examining board devised the trickiest technical task for the first year girls could take the exam.
We had to create a device that would open for exactly 1/3 of a second.
Simon King, who was the brightest boy in the class, worked it out immediately, it was a camera lens and all you needed was a spring. Every single boy just followed his lead and created exactly the same device.
But I couldn't copy, I just couldn't. I figured there must be another solution to this problem.
I designed an elaborate pendulum system.
It fell apart five minutes before the end of the exam.
But I didn't.
Even though I left that year to go to art school, Mr Weir enrolled me in his evening classes, he wasn't going to let me fail. The next year, the exam was back to pure woodwork, we had to make a silk screen frame and my perfect dovetails got me an A.
And that's why my portfolio doesn't look like theirs.
I've never copied the boys, what's the point?
I've been making pendulums ever since. Some of them fall over but most turn out to be the perfect example of the female lens.
A lens that could only stomach looking at a couple of my competitor's portfolios.
The blatant misogyny in some of the work shocked me to the core. You know, pictures of beautiful female corpses and blokes making jokes about fucking your mum. The sort of work that would never get past a female ECD.
No wonder clients are exasperated at being constantly subjected to the white male gaze and furious at agencies telling them senior creative women like me don't exist.
I guess they'll just start finding us themselves...
Jane Evans is a senior creative available for creative opportunities, consulting, and coaching.