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Affiliate Marketing Shatters Glass Ceilings

by Missy Ward in Affiliate Marketing   16 Comments

Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to expand my business to include working with a Fortune 500 Company, an outspoken celebrity and numerous bloggers and speakers. affiliate marketing shatters glass ceilings I’ve had the chance to work on new things that were outside of my comfort zone, from creating my first wine, to coding a new website to keynoting a conference – and yes, I’ve had a ball doing it.

But, you know what? I never once felt lucky because these great opportunities fell on my lap.

Because luck had nothing to do with it.

In fact, the only good fortune that I was blessed with was my classic overachiever personality, tenacity and the fact that I have such a hard time acknowledging that I might just possibly have limitations.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been disappointments along the way. No one is impervious to defeat. But at no point during any of the last 25+ years of my career have I ever felt that I was held back because I was a woman, nor do I feel like I’ve been rewarded for it either.

But lately, it seems that women are using their gender as an excuse for failure with so many of the “Woe is me, I’m a woman” articles and comments that are popping up in my “cyber-space”.

It pains me to see women choose to stereotype themselves — or worse, allow others to do it for them. It also surprises me that I still run into women that would rather perpetuate the male-female divide rather than support each other.

As an example, most recently, (and ironically), after delivering a keynote session at a women’s blogging conference, an attendee asked me if I thought my children suffered because I traveled quite a bit; with my son (who she was introduced to) standing right next to me. I’ve also been asked how I can live with myself leaving my children at home while I travel.

These are the types of questions that would have not likely been asked of me if I were a man and the type of comments that make it so very easy to preserve the inequalities that women have fought long and hard to end.

Now, I’m not saying that discrimination doesn’t exist at all. I’m simply saying that it’s negligible when it comes to business success or failure of the women in my circle — and dare I say affiliate marketing overall.

When I first started Affiliate Summit with Shawn Collins back in 2003, it definitely looked like an old boys club. But over the years, I’ve seen the audience evolve with more and more women playing key roles in the industry and within Affiliate Summit.

When I checked recently, I also found that our representation of women speakers directly correlates to the number of female attendees at Affiliate Summit. And, that’s a credit to the industry, as the speakers are voted in by their peers.

There are a lot more interesting statistics about the number of women and women-owned businesses in affiliate marketing located in the AffStat: Women in Affiliate Marketing report, we just released.

It is exciting to see that the affiliate marketing industry is much more evolved than others when it comes to celebrating skills and passion, regardless of gender.

Let’s keep it that way. OK?

[This blog post originally appeared in the August 2011 issue of FeedFront Magazine as the Editor's Note]

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Missy Ward

Co-Founder & President at Affiliate Summit, Inc.
Missy Ward has been in affiliate marketing since 1999. She is the Co-Founder of Affiliate Summit, FeedFront Magazine, GeekCast.fm, itsaWAHMthing.com; the Co-Publisher of Revenews.com, Founder of AffiliateMarketersGiveBack.com and manages many of her own affiliate sites. If she's not making money through affiliate links on the post you're currently reading, it's an oversight on her part and it will be corrected soon.

Comment & Add Your Voice

1 Adam September 8, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Great to see a woman like yourself breaking that “glass ceiling”.
Keep on shattering! Keep on tearin’ it up! You are inspiring


2 Zippy Sandler September 2, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Thank you Missy for that post. I agree that all successes have been due to hard work and tenacity and not ONCE in any of my work have I ever felt that being a woman has held me back. Since meeting you (dinner with Lucretia & Mark) at SheCon this year I keep thinking about you and how much you’ve achieved. I still have so much to learn, and I feel honored to have great female roll models to inspire.


3 Missy Ward September 3, 2011 at 10:58 am

Hey Zippy,
Thanks for commenting. It was great having dinner with you. I love the op!portunity to do that with new people and Lucretia is an amazing catalyst for that!

4 Britt Raybould September 2, 2011 at 12:35 pm

I’ve found that both online and offline, I get treated in large part the way I treat others. If I show respect, it’s rare that I don’t get it back. That’s not to say there haven’t been moments when the old boy’s club mentality hasn’t reared its head, just to say that it’s been pleasantly surprising to see what happens when I pop that particular bubble without personal attacks or over-the-top anger. Using this approach, I either find someone I can connect to professionally without future issues or someone who I check off the list.

At times, I’ve watched women be their own worst enemies by either turning on each other (how can you leave your children all the time?) or downplaying what they do. We shouldn’t ever be ashamed as women to acknowledge our amazing abilities and to let the whole world see us shine.


5 Missy Ward September 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Hey Britt,

Right on! Never letting someone elses’s negative or oppressive attitude get in the way of what you want (and have the right to do), is something that I strongly belive in. It’s a value that I try to instill in my children and reiterate to my grown friends who may sometimes forget 🙂

6 Joe Sousa September 1, 2011 at 11:40 am

In the brick and mortar world I definetly think there is a glass ceiling effect and women are treated differently but in the online world I don’t see it as much at all.

A website doesn’t care who is coding it. A visitor to a website doesn’t know if it was built by a man or a woman. And like Tricia said “women have an inherent ability to be creative, create content, and network” all three of which are HUGE in this industry.

I have always hated people using things they have no control over as an excuse and gender is one of those things. Men and women both need to use their natural gifts and abilities, take the time to learn, change the things they have control over, and just learn to deal with the rest.

Missy, you are a great example of a woman who has taken what she is good at and used it to create both a great business and a great legacy with all the charity work you do. There are many women in this industry I look up to and admire who have far exceeded anything I could hope to do. I think more and more people need to realize that you and the other great ladies in this industry haven’t succeeded in spite of being a woman but because they are women and that is a wonderful thing.


7 Missy Ward September 1, 2011 at 11:53 am

I agree – As far I’m concerned there is no such thing as a glass ceiling in the online world, only issues better suited to be addressed in a mirror.

OK Joe – and now I’ll be girly and tell you that I teared up a bit with your last paragraph 😉 Thank you.

8 Karen Garcia September 1, 2011 at 11:10 am

I would have to agree with you Missy…after 12 years, I haven’t seen any sort of glass ceiling discrimination against women among those involved in the day to day in our industry. Unfortunately, I have seen the vestiges of it among executives of companies as well as those who have spent most of their lives entrenched in the direct marketing arena. It’s slowly falling away, but I still occasionally encounter it and I find it curious…kind of like finding a dusty antique somewhere you didn’t expect.

As for the whole “but you’re leaving your children behind!” thing, I think that being in this industry has made me a -better- mom. I’m here when my kids are getting up and when they come home from school (both events I missed as a cubicle commuter) and I rarely miss any sort of school event. They know how hard we work since they see us ‘at the office’ everyday and while we do travel for conferences and such, that travel has actually increased their own independence, self confidence and they’re more responsible than many of their peers. I wouldn’t trade that for a 9 to 5!


9 Missy Ward September 1, 2011 at 11:21 am

Hey Karen – I agree with your point that being in this industry has helped me be a better mom. I actually left a company in 2002 that I worked for, (for 10 years that kept me in their office for 65+ hours a week) to become an entrepreneur. And yes, while I do travel a lot, while I am here, I’m able to do things for the kids that other parents might not be able to do as easily as me — such as particpate in school events, field trips and fundraisers any time I want.

I know a lot of women who are very successful in this industry that can say the same.

Granted, there are some days where I’m better at doing my job, some days where I’m great at being a mom. But on those days where I’m great at both, it’s magical 🙂

10 Sam Beamond September 1, 2011 at 11:03 am

Thanks for the insight, Missy. I think there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to affiliate marketing, mainly from people who just don’t understand it. I had my affiliate marketing firm write a post that explains the whole process to such people here: http://www.internetmarketingsource.net/2011/07/affiliate-marketing-explained/


11 Tricia Meyer September 1, 2011 at 10:26 am

I could not agree with you more, Missy. Although I think that when I started attending Affiliate Summit, it seemed it was heavily male dominated, that isn’t the case anymore and that is due in large part to the fact that affiliate marketing does NOT have a glass ceiling. I actually remember sitting at ShareASale Think Tank this year and looking around and counting the number of women in a session because I think the women outnumbered the men.

I truly think that women have an inherent ability to be creative, create content, and network. And those are 3 things that serve affiliate marketers well. One of the things that I love most about my “job” is that I can have my career and still be here to get my kids on and off the bus. What could be better??


12 Missy Ward September 1, 2011 at 10:56 am

Hey Tricia,

I love the part about being able to have a career and work from home, too.

Truth is, women in this industry can have it “all-ish”.

13 Sharon at Big City Vegan September 1, 2011 at 10:25 am

You’re awesome Missy and your story is inspiring. You set a positive example and show opportunities didn’t fall in your lap, you earned them with your actions and having the mental strength and fortitude to take chances and go for it. I’m reading this awesome book that every woman should read, Knowing Your Value – Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth by Mika Brzezinski. It’s outstanding. Speaks to psychological and sociological situation most women experience but not in a finger pointing, oppressed, victimized way. It’s positive and speaks to the differences between men and women. A man would never be accused of being a bad Dad if he had work that took him on the road. I just find it interesting that some people still feel that way. Thanks for sharing this post Missy! Rock on!! 🙂 Sharon


14 Missy Ward September 1, 2011 at 10:50 am

Thanks Sharon. I’ve gotta check out that book. Appreciate the share.

15 Carleen September 1, 2011 at 10:22 am

The first year that I attended Blogworld, I noticed what seemed to be a low proportion of women to men both in attendance and in speaking, but I can’t say that I felt like I was treated any differently from the men in attendance. Jump ahead to the current time, and I see women much more in attendance and speaking at events such as Affiliate Summit and BlogWorld, and I still haven’t encountered any issues based on my gender. For the most part, I find that affiliate marketers and bloggers tend to be a pretty open group of people. It would surprise me if I met anyone in the affiliate realm who really was held back professionally based on gender, or probably any other characteristic for that matter.


16 Missy Ward September 1, 2011 at 10:49 am

Thanks Carleen. I agree with your opinion that there really isn’t any reason that someone gets “held back” in affiliate marketing that isn’t self-imposed.

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