Editor’s Note: International Women’s Day is set apart to celebrate the achievements of women. Forbes suggests, “The day marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality, embedding equity in this conversation.” That’s what we intend to do in this article, written by an organization run by women, for women, honoring women in research. This piece points out the gender gap in industry leadership positions, but also shows a path towards the future … through the work of WIRe and ALL our organizations.
Like so many good things, Women in Research (WIRe) began over cocktails. It was 2007: Hilary Clinton was announcing her first presidential run; Nancy Pelosi had just become the first female speaker of the House; and, despite the messages of girl power in the media, many women still felt that their career trajectory would be an uphill one.
Market Research is, by and large, an industry of women. A 2023 report from career site Zippia claims that 55% of Marketing Research analysts are women, 45% are men.
But, when one navigates through the countless leadership pages of most Market Research companies and corporate departments, the faces of women (and of ethnically and culturally diverse professionals) are often absent.
“Where the roles existed, just 13% of CEO roles and 26% of President roles were held by women.”
Research performed in 2019 found that, in companies listed on GreenBook’s 150 Global Companies in Market Research, where the roles existed, just 13% of CEO roles and 26% of President roles were held by women.
Despite 15 years of growth and change as a non-profit organization, WIRe continues to operate under a basic premise: that diversity has a positive, measurable, and transformative impact on business.
WIRe is Dedicated to a Global Community
WIRe hosted its first educational networking event in Los Angeles, inviting attendees of all genders to challenge traditional ideas around professional networking and competition in favor of a collaborative and supportive space where all can thrive. What started in the U.S. quickly moved abroad; by 2010 a London chapter had been established and more than 1,500 community members had joined the ranks, largely by word-of-mouth. Today, WIRe hosts events in over 35 cities globally and more than 15,000 community members engage with WIRe programming annually.
While our educational networking events are often how new community members come into the WIRe fold, we additionally support several programs throughout the year including an award-winning mentorship program, an executive networking group, and a remotely-accessible professional development program, each with unique needs of women at a variety of career stages in research in-mind.
Making a Measurable Impact
In addition to our programming and events, WIRe has teamed up with some of the leading companies and thought leaders in Market Research to perform ongoing research into the state of diversity in the research industry and the impacts of our work.
The first-wave of our “Gender & Career Advancement in the Research Industry” study was performed in 2012 and found that just 18% of industry CEOs were women; in 2022, this number has risen to 23%. And, while progress is positive, at the current rate we will not reach parity at the CEO-level until 2067 — a testament to the work still left to do.
We also made sure to track the impacts of COVID, not just on women, but on researchers industry-wide. Despite the setbacks and obstacles brought about by the pandemic, it did force many companies — and workers — to re-evaluate their workplace through an equity-focused lens. We’re big believers that, when leaders adapt to the needs of their diverse workforce, all employees benefit. Each year, we partner directly with some of the industry’s leading companies and organizations to help bring this vision of a more just and equitable workplace to life.
The Future is (Her)e
As we continue to adjust our remit to accommodate the broadening needs of Market Research professionals, the future of WIRe and of the industry at large looks to a similar point of action: intersectionality. In 2018 we created the WIRe in Color program to support, bolster, and connect Women of Color and diverse professionals within the Insights industry.
In 2023 this group will have its first in-person meetup, after being put on hold by the pandemic, in New York City—as well as additional online programming. We’re also evaluating our programming to adapt to a broader global audience as well as to those with disabilities in the hopes that we can increase accessibility to our resources.
As we grow and expand, staying connected is at the core of what we do. If you’re interested in finding a chapter near you or learning more about our programming, resources, or how you might join the fight for a more equitable industry, head over to our website to join our community mailing list and get in on the conversation.