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The industry is improving but still needs to invest time and energy into increasing the female work force, says Lorraine Ruckstuhl

How can the media industry evolve to better celebrate and increase the inclusion of women? It’s a question the business has been wrestling with for some time, but several solutions were offered at the the 2019 Media Production Show earlier this year, where we heard from five leading female executives on their biggest challenges and forthcoming changes.

The panel comprised women from a range of backgrounds, namely actor and presenter Arazou Baker, creative producer Gina Powell, diversity and inclusion director at games company King Joyce Adeluwoye-Adams, managing director of 5A Studios Cristina Aaragon and script supervisor Emma Thomas.

They disagreed over quotas, and there was an understanding that jobs should go to the person who is best for the role, no matter their gender.

However, there was consensus the playing field needs to be levelled so that women have the chance to show they were as capable as their male counterparts. For example, they suggested removing names from CVs during the job application process during the selection process to reduce unconscious bias.

Powell had already noticed a change in attitudes over the past few years – from being taken more seriously by her male colleagues, to working alongside more women in the industry.

However, 5A’s Aaragon said she still saw significantly more male applicants for vacancies, especially for technical roles such as sound engineers. The lack of women in post-production and craft has been an industry issue for some time.

Lack of awareness

Script supremo Thomas regularly mentors other women who are interested in the industry to raise awareness of the breadth of roles and was surprised how many women aren’t aware of the jobs that exist.

Aaragon reiterated that there was a misconception that technical roles, such as sound engineers, lack creative challenges when this isn’t the case.

However, all agreed more should be done to encourage women to join the media industry, recognising employers need to do more to support women, whether through offering more flexibility and dynamic working opportunities.