Anna Mantzaris depicts hilarious workplace sabotage to tell a dire hidden tale

In a short animated ad for New Zealand charity Global Women, a cute but destructive protagonist shows how ridiculous the Motherhood Penalty really is.

8 March 2021


Ever cut off your colleague’s tie in a meeting? Or purposely opened a window so all the papers on everyone’s desks fly everywhere? Or even eaten your manager’s cookie, just to spit it back out on the desk in front of him? Whether you have (if so, respect) or merely dreamed of doing so, Anna Mantzaris’ latest film lets us live through the consequences of such ill-advised but supremely gratifying workplace sabotage. Bringing her knack for subtle, dry humour to the campaign, the animator also employs the cuteness of her signature felt characters to lend extra impact to the film’s alarming message – that having a baby is the most career-limiting thing a woman can do, even more than these ridiculous antics.

The film was made together with agency Saatchi & Saatchi and Passion Animation Studios, setting out to highlight one of the biggest hurdles in achieving womxn’s equality in the workplace. It builds on scenarios shown in Mantzaris’ RCA film Enough that centres on “impulses we all can feel but never act upon”.

“It is very sad that the pay gap and the way women, or rather mothers, are being treated by the work environment is still the way it is,” Mantzaris says of the campaign for Global Women. “I don’t believe that this is something that is happening intentionally but rather a consequence of our culture and failing to see invisible obstacles and discriminations that mothers are constantly being faced with in the work area.” Therefore this film, through satire and a brilliantly unapologetic protagonist, aims to “shine light on inequalities that exist today, even though [International Womxn’s Day] should not be the only day we talk about these subjects,” adds the director.

Auckland-based charity Global Women intended the campaign to highlight the so-called Motherhood Penalty, and the fact that on average mothers earn 12.5 per cent less than fathers of the same age and education over the course of their career (according to Motu Economic and Public Policy Research).

“We know that how an organisation supports and interacts with women around parenthood is a key moment in a woman’s career trajectory,” says Global Women CEO Agnes Naera. “We are losing too many talented women around this point, so we need to ensure that we are doing everything we can as businesses and society, to keep women in the pipeline so they can move on to leadership and governance roles.

“From our own research we have learned that it is critical for women to have ‘relatable role models’ ahead of them, so that they too can see that a successful career and family are possible and not just for the ‘superwoman’ that for many, just doesn’t feel achievable or sustainable anymore. We also identified that normalising parental leave for Fathers is incredibly important if we are to start to shift society’s deeply held views on traditional gender roles and responsibilities.”

The campaign, Drop the Motherhood Penalty, launches today on International Womxn’s Day, with films and posters running across social, outdoor and digital.

GalleryAnna Mantzaris, Passion Animation Studios and Saatchi & Saatchi: Career-limiting move for the Drop the Motherhood Penalty campaign (Copyright © Global Women, 2021)

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Anna Mantzaris, Passion Animation Studios and Saatchi & Saatchi: Career-limiting move for the Drop the Motherhood Penalty campaign (Copyright © Global Women, 2021)

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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