What type of Wonder Woman are you? by Katy Mousinho
By Guest Contributor Katy Mousinho
Co-Author of Wonder Women, Katy Mousinho, gives insight into the archetypes of Wonder Women so you can work out what type of Wonder Women you are.
When writing Wonder Women, the stories and interviews revealed some interesting female archetypes. We identified these primarily in the Old World of marketing, but we’ve had lots of feedback which says these are still prevalent in today’s New World.
BEING MORE LIKE A MAN
There is a famous line (and song title) from the 1964 movie “My Fair Lady”, where Professor Henry Higgins is exasperated at his attempts to transform Eliza Doolittle into a cultured member of high society and asks, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”
‘Being more like a man’ was just one of the archetypes we discovered when talking to women who were successful or who had successful female bosses in the world of marketing in the 70s, 80s and 90s. To survive and thrive in a business environment set up by men for men, many women felt they had to beat them at their own game by taking on the harder ‘male’ characteristics – aggressive, extrovert, competitive, ruthless – and playing down the softer (and perceived weaker) female characteristics.
Wendy Gordon told us about a study she conducted in the 80s about what makes a successful woman in business. She interviewed heads of planning and MDs of ad agencies and identified another two archetypes – we’ve changed the names based on further interviews we’ve done, but the characteristics are the same.
AI – ATTRACTIVE INTELLIGENCE
‘AI – Attractive Intelligence’ was where women used their attractiveness and intellect to their advantage. They were good looking, highly intelligent, well-educated, vivacious, charming and had been told (especially by their fathers) that they could be and do anything they wanted – no barriers.
PROVE THEM WRONG
‘Prove them wrong’ were women who fought their way through prejudice, they relished a challenge, were prepared to fight for their rights, stood firm and pushed themselves forward. If someone told them they couldn’t do something, their mission was to prove that person wrong (the stories we’ve written of Mary Wells Lawrence and Cindy Gallop are examples of this). Another famous case would be the Oprah Winfrey story where she explains, “The reason I’m so rich is that the studios said that I wouldn’t build the audience to the size it did – so I negotiated a huge percentage. That’s what’s made me successful – everyone predicted I would fail.”
These three routes to success required a huge amount of strength and self-confidence, but we also discovered examples of tenacious women who simply got on with it another way.
‘Outwork them’ were women who diligently worked twice as hard as men, proved they could do an excellent job and had the confidence that their contribution would (in the end) be recognised. They accepted that their success would be slower and steadier, but they would get there through steadfast determination and extraordinary grace (the Sara Blakely story fits this model).
SMILE AND MOVE ON
Our fifth archetype ‘Smile and move on’ is an impressive demonstration of women’s resilience in the face of overt sexism and unconscious bias. Women were frequently talked over, their ideas dismissed or ignored (only to be applauded when raised later by a man), there were countless assumptions that the more junior male was the boss, and women in senior roles were even addressed ‘sugar’ or ‘honey’! What all these women had was a marvellous sense of humour and had worked out strategies to ‘humour’ men who demonstrated these behaviours. They understood it was the men’s attitudes that were the problem, not the women.
This was mentioned numerous times in various interviews. Edwina Dunn told us about a famous Punch cartoon, where a group of male executives and one female executive are sitting around a table and one of the men says, “That’s very good Miss Tiggs, now if one of the men would like to make the same point, we can all move on.”
WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE ARCHETYPES
Obviously, not all women fit neatly into any single archetype; it is often a combination of a few or all of these traits which has led to a woman’s success.
What is interesting about these archetypes of the Old World, is that individual women were struggling mainly on their own. A woman in a senior role was the exception, and women were fighting so hard for their own success that they did not have time to think or worry about other women.
What has changed so significantly in today’s world is that the collective voice of women is now emerging strong and clear, and it is being amplified by the more enlightened men amongst us. We now understand that the problem is prejudice and unconscious bias, the problem lies with organisations who overlook women and prevent them from contributing their skills and qualities in the workplace, the problem is perceiving women’s strengths as weaknesses.
The world, where quiet women were ignored and loud women may have been heard but were at best ignored or at worst called shrill and pushy, is changing fast. Women in the past, present and future are emerging as a powerful force for good and we are identifying an inspirational set of new female role models.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
KATY MOUSINHO is now enjoying a life of ‘freedom and flexibility’, having forsaken the world of full-time working to pursue multiple activities including writing, health and fitness, travel and helping out small businesses with their brand and marketing strategy. As former managing Director of The Value Engineers and with 30 years’ experience in insight and brand strategy, she has gained a broad perspective on the world of consumers and brand, having worked with a diverse range of clients across categories and countries.
GILES LURY is a VW Beetle-driving, Lego watch-wearing Disney-loving, Chelsea supporting father of five who also happens to be a director of brand consultancy at The Value Engineers and author of The Prisoner and the Penguin, How Coca-Cola Took Over the World, and Inspiring Innovation.
Every marketer knows the stories of Lord Lever and Steve Jobs, has probably read AI Ries and Jack Trout, and seen the works of Bill Bernbach and John Hegarty. What’s interesting about these ‘Masters of Marketing’ is that they are all men. Katy Mousinho’s and Giles Lury’s Wonder Women tells the stories of some of the women who have had a tremendous influence on the marketing industry, like Brownie Wise, who transformed Tupperware and Mary Wells Lawrence, who founded advertising agency Wells, Rich, Greene.
There are also interviews with Edwina Dunn OBE – the co-founder of Dunnhumby and the data behind the Tesco Clubcard; Helle Muller Peterson – Senior Vice President, Arla Foods Denmark and previously the only female country CEO in Carlsberg, plus many more. Mousinho and Lury pull together their findings, not only to celebrate their success, but to provide insights for the future of marketing and the great marketers, women and men, to come.