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DEI + Culture

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Breaking bias

DEI + Culture / 3.8.22 / By Robin Lohkamp

It’s Friday evening and I’m skimming Disney+ with my teenage son, settling on an episode of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” I’m catching up to him with Marvel content, so this dinner-and-a-show has kind of become our thing.

As the episode queues up, we chat over our shrimp tacos. He tells me about a funny post he’s seen on TikTok. I tell him I’m writing a blog post to celebrate International Women’s Day. “When is there going to be an International Men’s Day?” He asks so earnestly; I know he’s not even joking. Not because I’m raising a manly young man who thinks men need their day in the sun. He asks because he’s learned about women’s rights and gender equity in school and sees the conversation in the media—and it’s a genuinely puzzling subject for him. Because he doesn’t see the women in his life as the fairer sex. None are less-than.

Turns out, I’m raising a future-man who views women, girls, humans, all of us equally. Who doesn’t question a woman’s place. Who’s been loved, taught, uplifted, coached by the opposite sex his whole young life. Being a single mother, I wholeheartedly thank the influence of others: his little sister, teachers, classmates, friends, athletes, leaders. And while I love that his questioning comes from a good place—and a good heart where his own beliefs are still forming—I recognize the significance of this moment, to continue guiding him from my place as a female leader in a man’s world of marketing.

Although advertising isn’t the boys club it once was, I’ve experienced doubt, chauvinism, exclusion and very likely mommy-tracking from my male counterparts throughout my career. I don’t blame them; I prove them wrong. I pursued my first junior copywriter job in an ad agency more than 20 years ago, sitting across from an old-school ad man who said to me, “They tell me women make great copywriters. I have yet to see it.” These days, I wouldn’t say I’m underestimated. I feel valued, seen, heard, understood—mostly.

Our industry still has a long way to go when it comes to truly embracing equity, be it gender, race, culture, perspectives. But as a creative director at DS+CO, a woman-owned, female-led marketing company, surrounded by incredibly talented women and men, I’d say we’re all works in progress. So maybe all we can do is keep on doing better. Keep on influencing the world around us to view women, girls, humans, all of us equally.

Like on that Friday night, streaming episodes over shrimp tacos. When I raised a brow, and responded in kind, “Isn’t every day International Men’s Day?” We laughed and agreed, women deserve at least 24 hours of celebration. Bias, broken.


Robin Lohkamp

Robin Lohkamp is DS+CO’s creative director with smart strategies that elevate brands, amplify the right messages and build connections.