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Ridiculously low numbers of female techies. Why?

women-not

February saw a record 2,536 attend the ENTECH Roadshow, of which just 4.5% were female. This spurred some commentary as to whether it represents female participation in entertainment technical roles – or whether ENTECH isn’t considered welcoming.

“It is a very obvious trend in the technical production community”, said Kat Grandquist, who is studying tech production at WAAPA.

“I don’t think the idea of participating in creative technical trades is accessible to most women. They are encouraged to be singers or actors but don’t get shown other creative opportunity’s available in the industry.”

“I see loads of women start out in technical fields and then many go off to other fields, often because they get sick of being surrounded by the blokey attitude”, says Bronwyn Pringle from Melbourne.

“It’s even there in the language we use. ‘Old Boys’ and ‘Soundgirls’. The bulk of women in technical areas are young. It’s also a problem across the world. I went to the trade show along side the Live Design Broadway Masterclass in New York and the situation was exactly the same.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?

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juliusg

16 Comments

  1. SHEILA LORRAINE on March 8, 2017 at 10:52 am

    I guess the problem is not just in this industry, but in many that are “male – orientated”. Where there are females in a male dominated profession – it is always going to be hard. Many men accept females into the industry and treat them as “one of the boys”, but sadly many do not. As others have said – – it is often assumed that a female is in a lesser or semi professional part of the industry. I have been on many jobs where the act/artist has commented how nice/unusual it is to see a female tech – but also notice that once an act ( that doesnt know me) arrives – they will automatically talk to one of the male crew members assuming they are the tech. Females will always have to work harder to prove themselves in this and many other industries – but as the numbers become greater it will get easier However, until then we keep scratching at the door. As more and more females come into the industry then hopefully the attitudes will change. I am one of the lucky ones – the guys I work with accept me and know my abilities ( and limitations) as I know theirs. We have a laugh and we are all the same. To get more females into this industry – all we can do is encourage them – from school age onwards….Many females in this industry hold top jobs – maybe we need to read more about them – make it seem to others – both those in the industry and those thinking about the industry as a career – that it can be rewarding and females can get the good jobs too – Maybe its all about promotion of females and “getting it out there” that its an industry that can be good for females too. There are organisations, facebook pages and groups – so we need to get those out there too. Its all about the perception – change that and the attitude of others, and numbers of females will change…



  2. Harry Parker (@HarryP457) on March 8, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    I’ve been around the theatre and corporate AV industry for over 30 years and, yes, there are very few females in technical roles and I wish that wasn’t the case. The women I’ve had the privilege of working with were always excellent and I have never had cause to think that they were in any way inferior to their male counterparts.
    Truth be known, and going back to my early years in the industry, my wife was the best roadie I could wish for.



  3. LfO on March 8, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    The problem isn’t so prevalent in Europe, where schools are co-ed, so there is access to entry path subjects, and also technologists and engineers are considered elite professions, not nerds.

    European women in the workforce are supported with paid maternity leave and have the right to re-enter the workforce part time, which enables them to retain skills and contacts. Men get paid paternity leave – so it doesn’t always fall on the shoulders of women to raise the kids.

    I studied engineering, after attending a top selective girls high school — which had NO tech electives. Go figure !! As a result, I was behind from the get-go, and had to do all this catch up study at uni. Every step of the way, I had to chase my goals because there was no easy path for me.

    My school math teacher was a mechanical engineer – she was awesome.
    A great mentor.

    I have a family of engineers, so I knew what engineering jobs are about — this was the same deal with nearly every female engineer I knew on campus.
    Clearly, the message that tech jobs are cool is not getting thru in school.

    How are girls supposed to learn about engineering or tech jobs if they are not introduced and taught at high school ?

    In many European countries, there are no electives only ‘Streams of Study’ – aka finance, science, humanities etc
    This steaming just means one does “more” of those subjects, but ALL the core subjects are still taught, meaning girls get science and technology subjects up til the end of high school, when they are starting to think about careers.
    Unlike here, students can’t drop tech subjects when they are 15 or 16, when they are more interested in hanging out with friends than choosing a career.

    Most schools nowadays, irrespective of girls or boys or co-ed, do teach Software Design, multi-media, design & technology etc … but you’d be hard pressed to find an Australian girls high school offering engineering studies.

    I strongly disagree with the “blokey” workplace argument.

    Frankly, all the men I know are incredibly supportive and welcoming of women, young and old, into tech industries.

    My advice to any aspiring female techie / engineer is to avoid the “all men are bastards” approach that the angry female activists seem to advocate. They’re not.

    Guys don’t likes being accused of being a “male bastard” just because they disagree with you or work differently to you. Accusing them of such is a sure way to put them offside and show how insecure you are and alienate them.

    If a guy is behaving in a way that you don’t like, tell them cordially.

    If a guy starts making sexist remarks eg Bob tells you you’ve got a great rack,
    turn it back on him, shout over to one of the other guys eg Charlie,
    saying “Hey Charlie, Bob says to tell you you’ve got a great rack. Is it true?”

    Handling this sort of stuff with humour, will show that you are not letting Bob upset you, but that the comment wasn’t appropriate, and now everyone else knows it’s not appropriate either.

    Otherwise just a simple shutdown of
    “I don’t date my co-workers / mix work with my private life”

    Have a standard response ready – so it’s automatic and you say it immediately.

    Saying nothing may lead guys to think you appreciated the attention … and encourage him and others.

    Last year I was in the USA and was inadvertently invited to a JPL BBQ.
    (think Mars Rover project etc)
    I sat at a table with about 8 couples … sort of presuming all the guys were the ones who worked at Jet Propulsion Labs … and instead found that it was all the women who had the hi-tech jobs. The guys were all just handbags.

    So clearly when women are given career pathway opportunities, they grab them !!

    Advice:
    Seek help from those who will teach you.
    Conduct yourself professionally and with confidence.
    Be proactive in letting people know what your skill set and experience is.
    Contribute and support the team, and the team will support you.



  4. Isabelle Schulz on March 8, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    Rather than saying that the reason for the low number of women employed in the av tech industry is because its largely dominated by men, I think another answer to this discourse is because it isn’t an obvious career choice for women and that much of the time discrimination is not adequetly dealt with therefore there is a loss in confidence and will.

    Its definitely a subject that should be further looked into if we want to see a positive change. Possibly addressing it by using focus groups and partnering up with theatre and av tech programs in tafe and colleges. Ofcourse it is only a portion of the industry that does express discrimination but by teaching women to identify and address prejudice and providing support to deal with it would go a long way in building confidence.

    The next point I will stress if that at the same time we should be encouraging women that it is a creative and fullfilling career and that there are so many possiblities and avenues that can take you somewhere you could never have imagined.

    Go Girl, Go for IT is a great example of how the Information Communication Technology industry addressed the very same issue.



  5. Erica on March 8, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    I believe Tech production is perceived by women the same way as any trade – its a tough physical job that requires a certain skill set. How many women become plumbers or chippies? This type of work is not attractive to women (or men) who want to wear nice clothes and work in air conditioning. 20 years experience in the industry fortunately I have rarely experienced discrimination, I have been judged on my abilities and my ability to work with others. Physically I am not as strong as some men, but there are many other tasks to be doing on gigs that don’t involve lifting. I feel like there is a shift in perception, a lot more girls wanting to get involved. I teach tech production now and girls make up nearly 30% of my classes. There are more opportunities for discussion on social media for female techies, which provide great avenues to inspire and to vent. Women need to help women in this business too, and I feel like there will be more opportunity for female mentors to come to the fore as the next generation start coming into the workplace.



    • Julius on March 8, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      30% female participation is tech production classes – that’s a credit to someone at your organisation, as I know when I ran tech courses it took a lot of recruiting specific to females to get 20%. That was in 2009.



  6. Erica on March 8, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Having a female teacher who is also the production manager of large events and is seen operating FOH would be the main reason!



  7. Tony Musico on March 8, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    One of the best technicians that ever worked for me was Tara Ware.
    I would have no hesitation in offering a talented person of either gender an opportunity.
    It is a shame that we talk about roles that should be gender agnostic in terms of percentages.
    Perhaps there are not the number of women doing electronics courses.
    Perhaps marketing of the industry at school level is not happening for either gender, even less for girls.
    Who knows.



  8. Anonymous on March 8, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Yep, after spending 30 minutes taking their damn CDs whilst sitting at the lx desk and showing them colour choices etc I was asked ‘so who is doing the tech for us?’ Hello!!!!!!!! Am I a mirage? ! Though the theatre did insist I wear a nicely ironed long sleeve even coloured theatre shirt the same as the ushers (who they hadn’t seen yet).



  9. Anonymous on March 10, 2017 at 9:45 am

    I think that bullying and discrimination in the work place should be taken a little more seriously. I am aware that a lot of companies have anti bullying policies, but the lack of support and the polarising effect of raising an issue is what stops women and men from speaking up.



  10. Camille Symmons on March 13, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    If I thought being a woman and to be taken seriously in this industry was going to be as hard as it has been, would I have chosen this career 38 years ago.. hell yes. Would I recommend to any of my friends daughters to get into this industry now.. hell no. Too many people with ego’s trying to prove themselves instead of just getting the job done.

    ‘He who shouts louder always wins’, this saying seems to apply to our industry. I very rarely see a production go thru without someone yelling, name calling or the blame game being played.

    As for women in technical roles why is it that they can’t be feminine, why do they feel the need to act like the guys half the time, is this so they are taken seriously and don’t want to be called a girl…. Guess what YOU ARE and be proud of it.

    If you are good enough, keep your nose clean, do the job without whining (Women whine men whinge), don’t scream (women scream men shout), be respectful of your peers and don’t sleep with them and most of all be bloody grateful you got the job.

    Some advice

    – Do the job better than anyone else (sometimes this wont even be good enough)
    – Find a mentor that will take you under his wing that has respect in the industry and who doesn’t want to sleep with you.
    – Don’t Bitch. It will always come back and bite you in the arse.
    – Always be on time and never tell anyone you have your periods.
    – Always listen.
    – Opinions are for the professionals keep yours to yourself.
    – Don’t be a gap filler
    – There is never a stupid question but bloody make sure you ask the right person for the answer.
    – Wear makeup occasionally.
    – Don’t wear shorty shorts or low cut tops with your tits hanging out because all that is doing is saying your expertise are not good enough.
    – Don’t expect anything more or anything less unless you have earned it.
    – Finally, Get use to patting yourself on the back because I can tell you from experience these are very rare and hard to find.

    Best of luck chicks



  11. Anna Robb on March 15, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    It is a very important indicator of the Australian live performance industry if the attendance of women to ENTECH is so low. It should not be ignored. One must ask, and look at, media coverage, educational institutions, support and mentoring of women in technical positions, and potentially (dare I say it) discrimination in the workplace. Australia is, by and large, no leader when it comes to gender equality in all facets of the workforce.



  12. Nicola on March 15, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    I think it is important to recognise that a male dominated field does not have to mean “female hostile”. The majority of places I work it’s only been a talking point on the first day while everyone works out where they fit in. I find that the dickhead that can’t get over working with a woman to be the exception not the rule. I’ve studied electrical engineering where similar gender imbalances exist; I prefer those kind of male dominated fields of work. I don’t think we need to worry so much about the numbers, just concentrate on making sure everyone is accepted and honest change will happen slowly. Be aware that people in a minority will be less likely to jump for opportunities and might need a nudge of encouragement, even when they seem like confident people. The same comment applies to our lack of anyone other than white-Anglo local tech crew despite culturally broadening audiences and clients, but perhaps that conversation is a step more difficult to have than this one.



  13. Michael Gilders on March 15, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    I think Women are generally smarter so avoid the long hours, physically demanding and poorly paid jobs in this industry.
    There are some areas (Stage Management? Props? Wardrobe?) where women excel and dominate, others where they are barely represented.
    I’m totally for gender equality, my daughter has just entered the industry and to tell the truth I’d encourage her to avoid some of the jobs I’ve worked in the past, just as I would if she were a he.



  14. Camille Symmons on March 16, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    I agree with you Michael.
    The long hours the low pay is certainly not for everyone, especially women who will eventually want to have children and settle down. But I do know a lot of women that motherhood is totally out of the question and all they want to do is work in this industry and they have their heads screwed on really well. These women are few and far between.



    • cxmagblog on March 16, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      A girl at my college in 2009 assimilated EVERYTHING and was headed to a Diploma and a lot of referrals. Awesome student. Suddenly pipes up and says, ‘hang on, how does all this jive with getting married and having kids?’

      Whole class look at each other, then me. I say: ‘You know what, you know what you know now, make your choices.’ In a nice way, I hope.




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