News

10 Jun 2012

Sorry girls! Not wanted in tech production

It’s like something out of 1980 – todays contemporary production has females with clipboards, staffing security checkpoints, and sometimes managing something. Blokes are men and chicks are chicks – or chooks.

At the FOH desk, monitor console, rigging lights and vision, and serving up the stage or the backline, it is an ole’ boys club.

Consider the writer a default ole’ boy, albeit one of senior disposition. Mum used to whither me down with her assessment that I was a male chauvinist. Because she was defacing my 1975 Playboy Magazine by drawing mustaches on the centrefold, I naturally felt both violated and affronted.

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My political correctness was re calibrated – the Marxist Lesbian Video Unit at Sydney University was then very clearly The Enemy!

I don’t think I know how to think any more.

1970’s, 80’s, and the 90’s. Then the first decade of this time. I just tried to think non-gender. But these days the the pressure has dropped off the boys to be politically correct. At home we have two boys – not counting myself and the boy dog, Billy. The hormones are fantastic. We call a chick a chick.

We listen in rapt admiration when our alpha girl (my wife, their mum) comes home from her workplace where she works, and relays the ups, downs, and sometimes hilariously weird ways of our society. (My wife works in a customer facing role). She doesn’t feel discriminated against as a woman.

But while the boys (11 and 15) seem to be at peace with their female colleagues at school, what here for us in the tech production community where females face a stubborn and difficult barrier to entry?

A fabulous female student came through our college four years ago and entered a major production firm, only to report a fund amongst the guys to raise funds to “buy her some tits”. Charming – imagine we worked with girls who pass the hat around to enhance us? Actually – no, hold that thought. We men probably would get a laugh out of that.

Another truly great girl graduate came to a crisis moment at the employment point, asking us ‘how do I balance a future work with family, since all I’ve heard about is 80 hour weeks and pressure?’ This was a call from a heart that had no real answer, especially since we know theater rehearsals that are routinely locked into 80 hour weeks. Plus our star lecturer was herself pushing the students to accept the pressures of live events. Which we collectively, as a college, insisted is the right message to instill, otherwise what on earth do the entrants think when they start work?

We rejoice in the camaraderie, the ethos, and the culture of what we do. Let’s try to explain it and make it possible for everyone – both genders – to be part of the magic!

But – let’s not be sexist about it. I know I’ve used the ‘chick’ word a lot, for a long time, but always with an open heart and mind.

We told girls in our college they could do ANY role backstage, and many of them did. It was a shame we never had more than 25% female participation, and it is a shame that in some workplaces, when the roll up, they are under more hostile scrutiny that a new guy.

Embrace the differences within our teams – whether they be gender, ethic origin, or most crucially personality type. Great management is about adapting and enabling, not minimizing or rejecting.

– Julius

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