top of page

CIA: Chicks in Advertising

the challenge. Finally securing a job in advertising was huge to me, and I wanted to get as involved in the scene surrounding it as I possibly could. I went to talks, conferences, panels: anything relatively cheap that I could get my keen creative hands on. What I found though, wasn’t quite what I thought.

Put simply, it was a lot of men. Men talking about creative. Men talking about women in creative. But hardly any women at all: certainly not on the panels. I was the only woman on my own creative floor. And all of a sudden, I just felt really…weird. So, rather than stop attending, I decided to think creatively. I wanted to go to an event where I wasn’t a minority. Surely I wasn’t the only one. And in the absence of anything like this, it looked like I would have to create an event myself.

So that’s what I did.

the idea. CIA: Chicks in Advertising. This was a networking/inspirational talks event with a very simple mission: to give more women in creative industries a platform to be heard. The events were hosted in different agencies and creative venues: allowing women to picture themselves working there. The topics we would discuss were diverse: everything from art direction to AI, copywriting to film direction. But the speakers would only ever be women. That’s not to say men weren’t allowed to come - it couldn’t be further from the truth. Men were not just welcome, but strongly encouraged to come along, so they could hear perspectives they might not otherwise have access to. And after the talks, everyone was invited to send in work they wanted to talk about: our well loved 'good, bad and ugly' segment, to engage in healthy creative debate. I set the event up on Meetup, and promoted it through Twitter and Instagram. However, over the course of 6 years, the reach grew more than I could ever have expected.

the results.1,000 members. Over 40 events and fundraisers to promote young female creatives. Expansion over two cities: Leeds and Manchester. Talks at GLUG and Pechakucha, which then led me into guest lecturing and mentoring at UCLAN, Leeds Arts University, DMA and Salford Uni. In 2023, I was awarded an Honorary master of arts from Leeds Arts University, as a testament to the buzz CIA created. I gave up hosting in 2021, after 6 years of organising it all in my own time, even during the pandemic. But I’m most excited about what happened next. I was approached by 2 creatives in 2023, wishing to bring CIA back for the next gen of young female creatives. With my support, that has now been achieved. I am so proud to have left this legacy in very capable hands, and to have made a small difference to diversity and equality in our industry.

bottom of page