A Teen Talks Back to Advertisers

By Lauren Budzich

Whether we like it or not, advertisers play a tremendous role in girls’ leadership development. Monkey see, monkey do. Women in advertising are often stereotyped as less powerful players in society. Change is long overdue. It is pivotal for advertisers to play a positive role in leadership development.

By depicting the real power and confidence women process, girls will gain confidence. Advertisers should invest time and energy into developing the next generation of women leaders. In order for advertisers to succor leadership development, they must diverge away from stereotypes and instead show women holding leadership positions and succeeding in stereotypical men only jobs. Stereotypical roles of women include: secretaries, nurses, and homemakers. Currently women are depicted in advertising under these roles and not high leadership positions, like our male counterparts.

Advertisers need to exemplify and express positive influence in girls’ leadership development. It is time to put women CEOs on the front page. It is time to include images of women front and center in the boardroom. And it is time to put women in action on every other page, to remind the world just how strong we are.

Advertisers should help develop girls’ identity as leaders. The role of advertisers is girls’ leadership development also speaks to feminine and masculine qualities. Advertising depicts the feminine as emotional, non-aggressive and nurturing. On the other hand,  the masculine is depicted as ambitious, strong, and rational. Why can’t women have qualities from both sides? It is pivotal for advertisers to encourage confidence and play a positive role in leadership development.

As a whole, women have shifted their role into foremost business, political, and social players. It is the job of advertisers to embrace the new essence of women leadership. As they now play a tremendous role in girls’ leadership development, it is key to keep that influence positive. Girls will follow what they see and hear from advertising, so why not have advertising encourage leadership development in girls? Splashing powerful women and active women in control of their lives across the front page would be a great way to start.


Buffalo high school student Lauren Budzich wrote this winning essay for the Wharton Future of Advertising Program about the role advertisers play in girls’ leadership development and received a $250 Scholarship too boot.  The essay contest was an initiative of GenHERation, a female empowerment startup for millennial girls founded by Katlyn Grasso, a junior at the Wharton School. GenHERation provides girls the opportunity to work with national corporations and nonprofit organizations to implement their own advocacy campaigns to address community issues. Currently, GenHERation is running a pilot program with more than 200 girls in the Northeast. For more information about GenHERation visit www.genheration.com.