While the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the Australian advertising industry in 2020, new research from the MFA has highlighted that the pain was not necessarily felt equally.
According to the 2021 MFA Industry Census, the pay gap between the average salaries of men and women widened from zero per cent to three per cent in 2020.
The reason? A higher concentration of men in high-demand (and technology-led) roles such as SEO, SEM and analytics.
It has led to calls to encourage more women to pursue STEM roles, particularly in the media agency environment.
“SEO roles are one of the most in-demand areas within media agencies, and also an area that is heavily dominated by men,” MFA CEO Sophie Madden told B&T.
“The gender imbalance in STEM roles is a nation-wide issue and goes back to the fact that fewer women than men study STEM subjects at university, although this is changing and over time we expect to see a shift in the profile of people working in SEO roles.”
And while the change certainly starts at the education level, Madden believes that the industry can still make a difference.
“We can certainly be doing more to invest in attracting women to this area and we should be exploring ways of doing this at an industry level,” she said.
“Our industry is united in the importance of diversity and representation across all levels of media agency professionals, as is evidenced in the fact that women hold 44 per cent of all management roles. Of course, we still have some way to go to achieve true gender balance and our industry is committed to ongoing work to ensure the continued improvement in the diversity of our agencies’ employees.”
The MFA pointed out that the representation of women in leadership positions in the industry is higher than the Australian average.
Industry holds strong
Despite the unprecedented challenges that the pandemic brought with it, the results show the industry managed to hold strong overall.
There was a 5.1 per cent reduction in media agency jobs during the pandemic. This was despite the fact there was a 15 per cent drop in media agency bookings.
This marked the first industry population decline in over a decade.
However, staff turnover reduced by 3.9 per cent as people opted to stay in their current jobs as a result of the uncertainty.
There were also some signs of growth towards the end of the year, with a vacancy rate of 4.1 per cent.
“Despite recording the first population drop in over a decade, other indicators of the health of our industry remained positive,” added Madden.
“As a snapshot of the health of media agencies, the 2021 Census indicates that we’re well positioned to rebound and grow over 2021.”