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Where Are All My Ladies at NAB?

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When I was in Vegas a couple weeks ago for the NAB Show, I went to the Hofbräuhaus, the traditionally crazy German restaurant based on the brewery of the same name in Munich which is loaded up with a menu of Deutschland beers and meats.

The south lower hall at the convention center had more sausage than this place.

And that's my crude and unladylike way of asking: where all the women at?

Video post-production has been male-dominated for a long time. I don't need to be reminded of the big time Hollywood editors that have made their mark on the industry: Sally Menke, Thelma Schoonmaker, plenty of ladies in television doing great stuff. Or that there are a lot more women coming about now than there have been in the last few decades. I also don't need to be reminded that editing started with women. None of us do. It's common knowledge. They're out there, working and being really good and probably being better than you.

So where ARE all of these women hiding at NAB? I spent a day walking around the lower south hall. The ONLY time a female spoke to me was to scan my badge. If I had questions, I talked to a guy. I didn't participate in Post Production World this year, but I glanced at their speaker list: three ladies, two of which talked about social media and producing/directing. Christine Steele is the only one on the roster actually talking about post production. Really?

I spent another couple days working in a booth. I remember seeing a few women workers, but they were mostly around for the performance side of things. Or to scan badges and collect forms. Hell, even IN the booth, I talked to very few women.

But I'm going to be honest here and say that part of me sees the distinct abundance of Y chromosomes on the show floor, while the other part of me says "yeah, so?" Big deal, right? We're all equal, so if there's mostly guys, that's just the way it shook out and maybe there will be more girls next year. No reason to force it if there's just no girls available, to work at NAB or to send from your company to attend.

But then I go back to the part of me swimming in dudes, and I wonder if I should be asking "why" a little louder. I doubt intentional malice here. I don't think most guys are overtly sexist about including knowledgable women on their NAB teams, and I REALLY don't think the organizers of Post Production World are smoking in a back room, laughing maniacally over their old boy's club, plotting on how they can get rid of Christine once and for all. I can't speak for employers choosing to send male employees to NAB over women because I can totally see that happening, though I hope it doesn't…much.

I just wonder if I should be asking "why" a little louder in case nobody really thought about it.

Correct me if I'm wrong (really), but I've heard the NAB Show of maybe 10+ years ago described as a very male-dominated and bigwig-only type experience. Decision-makers were the most plentiful attendees, so lower ranked employees weren't around so much and certainly weren't so included in anything of importance. And most decision-makers were guys because that's just how the industry is or was then. That's how a lot of industries are, in fact, so it's not like I'm accusing the video industry of being some crazy backwards place. There have been several gigantic companies only recently naming their first female CEO. So you know, whatevs. But what if the lack of gals on the show floor is just a remnant of that time? Just invite back the same people, send the guys because they'll get more out of it, do the usual thing we do every year, just go about our business as we always have.

Or you could try some fresh meat, you guys. Not just women, but in general. If the best choice for your business is to bring an 18-35 year old white male to man your booth or teach your class or represent your company, then I'm not going to argue with you or say you're a male chauvinist pig and burn my bra in protest. I'm just asking: why?

Have you thought about it?



Posted by: Kylee Peña on Apr 22, 2013 at 12:34:57 pmComments (9) nab show, women

Comments

Re: Where Are All My Ladies at NAB?
by Debra Kaufman
I don't know how much I have to add here that hasn't already been said but, I'll give it a try...

1. It's way better than it used to be. For many years earlier in my career I was almost always the only female in the room. Remember when NAB was a black suit show? Well, the guys are now wearing jeans and there are more women who aren't booth babes.

2. There are numerous women who are editors, writers, producers even colorists...but not a lot of women engineers or tech-heads. The answer to WHY is a big question with a lot of possible answers. When I worked for the Journal of Symbolic Logic (yup, did that), the UCLA Math Professor who was my boss was of the strong opinion that girls were actually better at math than boys but were systematically discouraged from being "good" at something seen as being a male domain (he was male by the way)....is this how it starts? Or is it a difference in male/female brains?

Although creative types do come to NAB, they are out-numbered by engineering types who are predominately male. And certainly nearly all the lookey-loos -- those searching for the latest toys -- are all male.

The sessions, which are more broadly focused, have more female participation....

Just a few thoughts.
Re: Where Are All My Ladies at NAB?
by Bob Zelin
Yay ! I get to bash Kylee for the first time (even if I am misinterpreting what she is implying) -

Don't try to imply that the video business, or production business is a boys club. This has nothing to do with prejudice from men who only want to work with "other boys, because girls don't belong". The women that I have seen in this business have been THE BEST in every area that I have seen - from editing to graphics, to audio, to engineering. And you know what - THEY ALL LEAVE. They are not dedicated to their careers (with very rare exception). They are not "excluded" from our industry - they are welcome into our industry, and they just don't want to do it - and even if they do, and they are excellent - THEY ALL LEAVE. Why ? I don't know - some excuses usually about "babies, and having a family". Well, don't blame "us" for "babies and families", because no one said "get out". They choose to leave.

Of course, there are exceptions to this. The new president of the Society of Motion Pictures and Engineers is a woman - Wendy Aylsworth didn't get to this position because she is "cute" or a novelty. Its because she is qualified. My good friend Grace Machado is a senior editor at Disney Orlando, and has been so for years. And she is the best.

Let's look at other exceptions. Danica Patrick in auto racing (where are all the other women drivers?). Heavy metal guitar shredder Orianthi Panagaris (Alice Cooper band) kicks ass, and is not looking for an excuse for why she can't get into the "boys club". When you go to any auto show, you don't see girls drooling over cars, and you don't see girls drooling over guitars at Sam Ash Music or Guitar Center. Why ? When "the boys" go to NAB, we drool over all the new cameras, editing gear, etc. So Kylee, besides you, WHERE ARE ALL THE LADIES. And by the way, did you start to drool when you saw the new Blackmagic 4K camera for $3995? Because this is a natural male reaction to a "new toy". I know that girls drool over new footware, or handbags.

In all the years of being in this industry, I have NEVER EVER heard one male employer ever say "of course we won't hire her - she is a woman !". Yet this article points to male prejudice that woman are excluded from our industry, except for looking sexy at a trade show booth, or being a "marketing girl". Well, the opportunities are there, just like they are in music, auto racing, medicine, and countless other careers. The ladies are just not usually interested - and unfortunately even the ones that succeed (and usually surpass their male counterparts) seem to just "give up".

The women that have succeeded in the video business kick ass, but they are a rarity, an exception, and it's not "our fault" that there are not more women in this business.

Bob Zelin

@Bob Zelin
by Kylee Peña
I expected more caps or at least another exclamation point or two from a Bob bashing! :)

I'm not placing blame, I'm merely asking the question and offering some possible conclusions about why there are so few ladies at the show. A lot of women (and some guys) have messaged me in the days since I posted this, sharing the sentiment. It's worth talking about and discovering WHY as best we can because this is important.

I don't agree at all that women in the industry aren't dedicated to their careers or just "give up". I think that kind of attitude illustrates the sort of thing that women generally have to fight against in the industry -- to be taken seriously as a professional that isn't just going to bail as soon as they have a bun in the oven or something. But like I said in the blog post, I do think that the industry has a significant number of women (and that number continues to grow), and that wasn't really my point in this particular post, so I'll leave it at that.

The truth is that girls ARE interested in ALL of these things. A LOT of ladies are, actually. There are probably many reasons why they aren't at NAB. One of those reasons might be because they don't feel like it's where they need to be because the majority of the attendees think they're mostly just interested in handbags and silly things like that. I think this is the kind of thinking I'm hoping to talk about and avoid. Not to say it's your fault (you being the entire male species). Not looking for an excuse. I don't need one. I just hope to get past the typical gender stereotypes and make everyone think a little harder.

Come on, there's no reason why I can't rock a killer pair of red kitten heels while ogling the tech specs of the awesome BMD 4K camera on Twitter.

blog: kyleesportfolio.com/blog
twitter: @kyl33t
demo: kyleewall.com
@Kylee Wall
by Bob Zelin
o let's be blunt. If you are rockin' a killer pair of red kitten heels, and you want to see "product x" - exactly who is the sales rep going to pay attention to - you, or "Mr. Suit" or "Mr. Hipster". ITS YOU. So where are these ladies ? That's for you to answer !

Bob

@Bob Zelin
by Kylee Peña
Well, we both know I'd never wear heels on the show floor :)

blog: kyleesportfolio.com/blog
twitter: @kyl33t
demo: kyleewall.com
Re: Where Are All My Ladies at NAB?
by Vik Narayan
Yup, NAB Show is practically an 'all boys club'. In all the years I have attended I have found the same pattern - 90% of the female population is from the PR and marketing side (and I know a few that are fantastic in that department). A good number of them are "eye candy" hired by the exhibitors to "jazz up" their booths and scan badges while they are at it. There was ONE exception this year.

I ran into a Maxon rep (guy) at the Adobe booth and asked some questions about the Cinema 4D/After Effects integration. He told me this was a question for the engineer and led me to the Maxon booth and to a 20 something German girl. She was one of the senior software engineers at Maxon and she had all the answers I needed. But this was indeed the exception.

My theory is that it is in the male nature to get a high from solving tangible problems and all of the NAB exhibition is just that- a solution to some problem or the other. We then stream in and ogle like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in the City ogles at shoe displays. I know plenty of women in post production but to most, gear is a means to an end. They seem to derive greater satisfaction from solving more of the intangible problems - like working on character development, brand messaging, social outreach etc. For a lot of guys (i would count myself in this category), the means and the end are entwined. Thus Trapcode introduces Particular and now every commercial and music video has particle effects as a product of the "this is cool-i have to have it-i have to find ways to use it in every way i can" phenomenon = Herb's toy comment.

But then again maybe it is just subjective, maybe the ladies came by, took a quick glance, turned away unimpressed and headed for the Gucci store in Bellagio ;)

Next year, i'll make sure to come by the Small Tree booth to say hi so that the Maxon booth is not a lone phenomenon.

Vik Narayan
Scribble Head
Scribble Productions
Re: Blog: Where Are All My Ladies at NAB?
by Herb Sevush
Why don't you ask why there are so few female attendees? Why are there so few women who contribute on Cow forums? With the plethora of women pr/editors out there, how come so few go to NAB?

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf
Re: Blog: Where Are All My Ladies at NAB?
by Kylee Peña
[Herb Sevush] " With the plethora of women pr/editors out there, how come so few go to NAB?"

Yes, that's what I was asking.

blog: kyleesportfolio.com/blog
twitter: @kyl33t
demo: kyleewall.com
Re: Blog: Where Are All My Ladies at NAB?
by Herb Sevush
[Kylee Wall] "Yes, that's what I was asking."

It seemed like you were talking more about booth attendees and teams being sent out by larger facilities. In any event, without seeming too sexist, I would suggest that NAB is a toy fair and boys love their toys - as the old saying goes "the only difference between men and boys is the size of their toys."

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


Focusing on post-production, from editing and motion graphics to personal experiences and the psychology of being an editor.


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