From Advertising Age:
In the "Mad Men" view of the world, women were just beginning to make headway in the industry in the 1960s and Peggy Olson was an anomaly for a gender stuck in the steno pool. While it may be true that women's presence was limited in the ad world during that era, it's also true that they played a huge part in the development of the U.S. industry far earlier.
"Nothing is more proof that women are important in advertising than the plain fact that they have been in advertising, in one capacity or another, almost from the very beginning of the profession," said Christine Frederick, the founder of Advertising Women of New York.
That was in a speech Ms. Frederick gave in 1938.
In fact, though AWNY was founded a century ago, the first female-owned agency predates the organization by decades. Mathilde C. Weil opened the M.C. Weil agency in New York in 1880. She divided her clients into three categories: entertainment, education and profitable proprietary medicines.