“For women at 45, all the gaps hit,” says Jane Evans, a luminary of the ad industry who’s been making creative work since the early 80s. “There’s the gender pay gap, the lifetime gender pay gap, the gender pensions gap – which is horrendous, women 45+ have 50% of the pension savings of men. So while it’s essential that we get men employed, it is imperative that we get women employed – because if we don’t get midlife women employed we’re going to have a future where half are unable to retire. And we don’t deserve that.”
Evans, who launched the Uninvisibility project to profile women over the age of 50 in creative roles, and founded VisibleStart – a career programme that retrains midlife women for ad industry jobs – paints a bleak picture of an inherently ageist creative world. “Within advertising, it has been completely and utterly normal that once a woman hits 45 she is out of the industry,” she tells CR.
It’s something Evans has experienced herself. Following a career at agencies including Leagas Delaney and J Walter Thompson, as well as setting up her own business in Australia serving clients including Revlon and Maserati, Evans took some time out of the creative industry. In 2015 she came across the shocking statistic that only 3% of the world’s creative directors are women and decided it was time to get back into adland.