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Women in Clubs - A Mission for Inclusion



Of the directors, writers, producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top 250 grossing films in 2022, only 24% of them were women according to the annual Celluloid Ceiling report 


This report, from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, tracks women’s employment on the 250 top grossing films for each of the last 25 years. 


Given these statistics, the media studies and motion picture departments held an interest meeting for a Women in Production club in October. 


Every seat in the classroom was filled. 


Motion pictures professors Jennifer Bergen and Jennifer Blair started the club for students interested in film and television production.  


Through this club, students can have a community with other students with the same interest and can learn from women working in that field. 


“We're so excited to have together a group of people that are like-minded, want the same things and are working towards the same career goals in the long run,” Bergen said. 


Although the number of women in production roles has increased over the last 25 years from 17% in 1998 to 24% in 2022 according to the annual Celluloid Ceiling report, Blair said there is still a long way to go to achieving equality.  


“I feel like women bring different ideas and qualities than men do and it's important for us to represent all of that and see all of that when we're looking at things on screen,” Blair said. 


To encourage growth in the industry, Women in Production plans to host women guest speakers in the television and film fields to talk about their experiences in the field.  


For example, they may have a producer come and talk about the films they produced, or an editor come talk about their process. 


“We want to introduce these people to people working in the field and let them see the kind of careers they can have,” Bergen said. “Show them these things are out there, and that they can attain this.” 


Women in Production is not the first organization that provides a community for women in their field. Women in Film, Women in Audio, Women in Entertainment and Women in Science are also communities that support women interested in a certain field. 


“I think that it's good to be involved with peers beyond your classroom work and beyond things that are required,” Women in Film sponsor Amy Bertram said. “It's important to have time to hang out and talk about things that are important to what you're going to do professionally but have it be low-key and fun.”  


Today men continue to dominate the film industry and women are often overlooked and underestimated. 


Women in Film is an opportunity for students to have support through the challenges with the field and discuss their shared experiences as they work on projects.  


“There's a weird assumption that women can’t carry heavy things or don't know how to operate equipment as well and that's just simply not true,” Women in Film President Erin Thompson said. 


The club also promotes the work that women in the industry are doing by hosting guest speakers or screening women created films. 


“I think getting more and more women working in those bigger positions and things like Greta Gerwig making films that earn more than a billion dollars is incredibly important,” Bertram said.  


Gender bias and inequality are also prevalent in other areas of the entertainment industry. 


“Even when you're looking at the classes in Curb, even though there's more women in those classes, usually it's the guys that are the loudest,” Women in Entertainment officer Ella Williams said. “They’re the ones making the connections with the professors.” 


Artists also face challenges with inclusion and it's harder for them to be successful in the industry. 


Only 30% of artists in the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart in 2022 were women, according to USC Annenberg's research. 


“There's an unspoken rule in country radio of how many times you're allowed to play women on a radio station, where the smaller number of women you are playing on it the better,” Williams said. 


This leads to women in country music not getting the same attention male artists do, or switching to a different genre where they can be better supported. 


The club Women in Entertainment gives women at Belmont who want to go into the entertainment industry a place to find support system with people who have similar career goals, whether they are pursuing an artist or a behind the scenes role. 


“It's important that there's a space to talk about the challenges and struggles the entertainment space has when we're entering that career,” Williams said. 


Another area within the entertainment industry that struggles for female representation is audio engineers and producers.  


“I feel like if you are a woman, it's just harder sometimes to get farther up the ladder because some people just have attitudes built into them, that you shouldn't be there,” Women in Audio president Gillian Rueth said. 


In a 2022 study analyzing the percentage of women producers across 800 songs, only 2.8% of the more than 1,700 producer credits went to women, according to USC Annenberg's research. 


“When you walk into your first audio class there's generally only three other girls in your class,” Rueth said. “It seems like all the men know so much more than you because they already have experience. It feels very isolating.” 


Women in Audio allows students to build community around similar experiences, support and educate each other. 


“It's important we get more women to stay in it, not just come in, and then switch to another major, which is fine,” Rueth said. “But we want to give them the support they need so that they want to continue in the industry.” 


All of these clubs are separate organizations, but they do sometimes collaborate for events whether it's for promoting WELL Core events they host together or a networking opportunity. 


“I'm excited to be a part of helping out the younger generations find out how to thrive and survive in a traditionally male-dominated industry that hopefully is becoming more equitable and equalitarian as the years go by,” Bertram said. 


Even though it's important to have these spaces that support women in these fields, there are some challenges and misconceptions that come with them. 


“We have to figure out how we can make sure people don’t feel like they need to be separated,” Thompson said. “Now that we have these two spaces there’s almost this assumption that one is for men, and one is for women.” 


There is a lot to be done in these fields as far as developing a culture that is inclusive, but the gathering of the next generation of women through women-centered clubs that can have these conversations is a start. 


The addition of Women in Production contributes to this mission. 


"It’s important to stand up for ourselves and to ask for what we deserve, whether it be raises or promotions, because we don't tend to do that and if we do, we’re labeled a certain way,” Blair said. 


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This article was written by Zoe Spangler

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