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Digital Hollywood 2013: Not the Boy’s Club: Building and Defining Women’s Base of Power in Hollywood

October 25th, 2013 · 2 Comments

  digital_hollywood         By: A. M. Charles   Marina del Rey, CA(Hollywood Today)10/25/13/–A panel of accomplished women speaks frankly about time spent as a woman in the digital media business world. “I didn’t want to admit to myself for a long time, because it felt sexist, but I do think men and women operate differently.” Maria Zellers, (VP & Head of Operations, Stradella Road) thinks it’s important to have both. “I’ve worked in places that are almost all women, and almost all men. The environments are totally different. The most valued traits are still male centric, but now that’s changing and there is a more equal balance of leadership styles. Cynthia Cleveland: (Founder BroadLit) agrees but says it’s more about personality differences. “Every personality is different. It’s insightful to understand what makes someone else click. A better understanding of that person allows you to work better with that person, male or female.” We may be wired differently from an early age. There are many more men in the tech world than women. When asked why they think this is, the women had similar answers. Zellers explains, “My daughter likes math, but I used to literally try and steer her toward things like remote control planes and she would say, “mom, those are for boys, I want a princess dress.” Para admits, “when people approach my young daughter, the first thing they usually say is ‘you’re so pretty’ with my son it’s, ‘you’re so fast or you’re so strong.’ So I think there is training in the way we speak to and interact with our kids, and we can be more conscious of this.” Women sometimes run this internal dialogue within themselves. They can talk themselves out of things or get down on themselves and maybe feel less confident due to the circumstances of their work. Kate Neligan (Synergy TV) admits that when she feels this way, she just asks herself, “Why am I doing this? Is there a greater good that I’m working toward? I get in touch with inner ‘why.’ When I take myself out of it and put the ‘why’ first, my courage comes back.” Some women still struggle with their image and what to wear in the workplace. It’s easier for men, because they have fewer options. Patricia Para, (Head of Marketing and Product Strategy OUYA) says her leadership team is all women and they dress professionally. But their offices in LA and San Mateo are all engineers who wear flip-flops and shorts. Jessica Berlinski (CLO and Co-founder, If You Can) has a similar situation with the men she works with in the tech field in San Francisco. “I’ll go to these meetings with high level investors, and the tech guys are there in jeans and sweatshirts. But that’s their field and that is the acceptable norm. I’m an executive and in learning, not tech, so I wear a suit. I think it’s more about dressing for your job and your field, and represent that.” Sasha Bronner (LA Editor, The Huffington Post) says her office is casual, but she always likes to be presentable. “I never know when I’m going to end up going to a lunch or an interview, so I always try to look my best.”  Zellers just ads, “You never see a serious woman in a cheesy outfit.” When asked about making big decisions or facing big challenges, Cleveland says “When I have a big decision to make, I ask myself: “How will I feel ten years from now? If I try and fail, or try and succeed?” She tries to put herself in the future and look back, come up with the best consequence and the worst. “Then you make the decision you can.” Berlinski ads, “I think that part of a leader is being comfortable in the discomfort. If I’m not pushing myself out of my comfort zone then I’m not making headway and pushing boundaries for the company.” All of us, male or female, have days when we are feeling a few steps behind, or overwhelmed. “When this happens, it’s usually because I’m moving too fast,” says Neligan. “Slowing Down to the Speed of Life is one of my favorite books. Everyone needs a big passion thing in their lives that re-sets them, mine is horseback riding.” Bronner admits that as a journalist, her “to-do list” is never finished. “That’s been an adjustment me for me, because I always loved lists and crossing everything off, feeling like I’m done for the day. So sometimes you have to adjust your list and let go of the pressure of getting everything done.” It becomes a rolling list. “The other thing you have to do in order to survive is build in pockets of time in your day to relax. Just listening to music in the car, or reading before you go to bed.” Despite the differences between men and women in the digital media business landscape, we’re all working toward the similar goals and we all need those moments as Zellers says, “when you know you knocked it out of the park, whatever the task was, you know you did the best work that could be done, either alone or with others.”  

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