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Monday, 21 April 2014

What I think... about women in research

Tonight marks the inaugural UK meeting of Women in Research, or WIRe, a networking group formed in Los Angeles in 2007 by Kristin Luck, president of the MR services firm Decipher, who was later joined by Cassandra Rowe, senior manager for consumer insights at Netflix.

WIRe says its mission is to encourage “the establishment of empowering and nurturing relationships among women in market research through informal gatherings”. We asked Luck for her view on the status of women in market research.

Research has historically been a female-dominated industry, but when you look at the Honomichl 50 only 16% of CEOs are women. You just don’t see as many women in senior management positions as you do men.

Society is changing and I definitely think there are a lot more opportunities for women now than when I first entered the business in 1994. There are more women in mid-level management positions now than 18 years ago but I still feel there is a pretty significant imbalance at the top - and that’s just going to take time to correct.

I’m a big believer that the best person should get the job and that you’re picked to do something because you deserve it and because you’ve earned it. I would like to think that that was how things work but I do think it’s more challenging to get recognition as a women and to stand out in a male-dominated management structure. But a lot of the onus is on women to stand up and be heard and fight for a seat at the table.

Women have to pursue opportunities to get ahead or create opportunities for ourselves. No one took me by the hand and said, “Hey, this is your career path and this is how you get ahead”. I took the reins myself and figured out where I wanted to go and want I wanted to do.

I think there’s a pay imbalance as well as a gender imbalance in research. I don’t know that women are great about asking for what they deserve and I think that’s part of what’s driving my desire to grow WIRe; to create more mentoring and networking opportunities for women so they become more empowered and adept at asking for more money and feeling that they deserve to be paid the same. I certainly don’t want to place all the blame on men – we do it to ourselves by not asking for what we deserve.

Women are perceived as more empathetic and more emotionally driven and they have a unique perspective on how products should be developed. If you take women out of the equation, if you don’t have women on boards and you don’t have women involved in the research process then you’re missing out.

Men are welcome at WIRe events. They’re primarily for women but I think a big part of creating awareness about the gender imbalance in the industry is to make sure that men accept that it exists and are interested in supporting and encouraging women to progress to senior positions in the industry.

  • The WIRe London event takes place tonight, 6.30pm-9.30pm at The Curzon Cinema in Shaftesbury Avenue. Details online at womeninresearch.com/events

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Readers' comments (5)

  • Kristin is really accomplished and a great asset to the research industry. But seriously, what is the relevance to this topic. I think women in research can speak for themselves and men in research have valid opinions on both genders and the research experience. I think the article should've highlighted her interesting comments and interview instead of a title like "what i think about women in research". It's condescending to everyone evolved enough to see past gender and other stereotypes, male or female.

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  • Given that the whole interview was about women in research I think the title "What I Think About Women In Research" was... fair enough maybe?

    It's a shame that pointing out real inequalities can be criticised as "failing to see past gender", though.

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  • Fantastic to see debate around such subjects.

    A fair series of points raised.

    Anything which raises debate and disscusion about inequality can only be good to address it and at teh end of the day improve our industry!

    Alan H - MD

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  • I'm happy to see the debate raised, whether you think there is or isn't a concern. Here's something to ponder the next time you attend a market research conference: How often do you see an all-male panel vs an all-female panel?

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  • Totally agree with Annie on this one. I was turned off by a recent conference invitation and the topic was somewhat related to women, but the speakers were all men. I'm still waiting for the punch line.

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