Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 3-11-2019


Long, Rachel Morgan. The Influence of Female Creative Directors on Women Entering Advertising. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. May 2019.


Copyright Rachel Long 2019.


In 2012, only 3 percent of creative directors in advertising were women. Today that ratio has reached more than 11 percent and is on the rise in hopes to reach 50 percent. This ascent has been encouraging for me personally; I would love to take part in a movement for greater diversity in the industry, and I feel fortunate and thankful for the women who got it started half a century ago. But beyond the women leading the ad industry, how is this rise helping young women preparing to become creatives and project managers? How does this movement translate beyond the field, into the classrooms and mindsets of the future Mary Wells Lawrences, Jane Maases and Shelly Lazaruses?

So far, barely at all.

My research last fall began by surveying 80 women studying advertising across the U.S. to understand how they felt about entering the industry, what names they knew and whether they had any advertising role models - more specifically, role models who looked like them. The responses I received were surprising yet relatable. These women from Oregon to Arkansas to Georgia and New York all felt the same. We knew the percentage, but not the names, stories, or advice from the women out there paving the way for us soon to come.

Like any good advertiser, I saw a problem and set out to solve it.

After months of strategizing, ideation and thesis meetings with my advisors, I've created the solution. It's called Adspire. Or rather, Adspire.us.