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Devoted & Disgruntled 12: What Shall We Do About Theatre and the Performing Arts Now?

Female Leaders in the Arts: a Norm Not a Niche

Anabel Barnston - 22 January 2017

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Mini intro:
I called this report as in my opinion, balance of female ‘leaders’ (CEOs, heads of departments, writers, roles for actors, exec producers etc etc) is still very much tipped. How can we get past the idea that a company is different for having a female exec or that a show is currently ‘on trend’ if it is created by two female actor/writers and just make these things a norm?

Here were people's thoughts:

- There are female leaders in exec leadership, however creative leadership is still dominated by men.
- Do we have to tip the balance the other way in favour of women before we can level out? - find new voices and reach out to women!
-Is positive discrimination a good thing or should it just be about hiring the best person for the job, not ticking boxes?

- For freelancers, the hierarchical structure makes leadership less tangible.
- Comment on the patriarchal model of leadership. - the structures built around male progress create barriers for women.

It was felt that there's an assumption that women wouldn't ‘fit’ into a working environment of men and therefore men hire men.
- Do we then, in turn, combat this by pushing women to hire women?

Challenge the misconception that a female personality isn't good for leadership.
(side note to story from woman who went on a leadership course to find empathy is encouraged in good leadership and disengaging is not an advantage - thank you very much).
Why are there so many female admins who then haven't been able to or wanted to work their way up in a company?
Can we celebrate our personalities as a positive asset in leadership?
Or take the focus off personalities and focus on the RESULTS we have achieved. - Further to this, men are often hired based on their potential and experience, women are just hired based on experience (and personality apparently).
- Side note - Open Space works well for women as it's collaborative!

Currently, women at the top aren't bringing up other women. - “you don't have to blow out everyone's candles to make yours shine”. RECKLESS GENEROSITY!!
We need to work with other women, not against!
This culture needs to CHANGE.
(Bristol Old Vic is currently an ‘anomaly’ as they have a strong female team - The Belles, because THEY WERE THE BEST PEOPLE FOR THE JOB - how can this be a model for other companies?)
BOV event at St Georges on 8th March - International Women's Day.
What can we do? Starting in education - the curriculum should reflect strong female role models.
Ask for a gender audit?
(BTW is it even helpful to assign vocabulary e.g. ‘strong’ and ‘soft’ a gender?)

How can we support each other?
* employ each other
* make a point of seeing female led productions
* name check other women - influential and emerging talent. (and encourage men to do that same!) - create ‘spheres of influence’
* Retweet each other.

MENTORING - can the older generation carve the ground for the next generation?
Promote and utilise networks (e.g. WOMEN'S EQUALITY PARTY) to discuss with both established and emerging female leaders.
Promote more female discussions, debates, point of views e.g. in media - female magazines, social media etc. - female groups don't have to cause further divide or separations.
Not ‘here’s the lipstick that will make your opinion come across better'.

How can motherhood be incorporated into a working life?
As a freelancer, one of the group said, from personal experience that one has to address what is involved and ask yourself what makes a good mother. Decide how you want to be a mother and what is important to you - not be pressurised into what society tells you to be.
When working for a company - the group queried whether you had to keep quiet about age/ trying for a baby in case you are deemed as a ‘flight risk’.
Argument to this is that you are being more responsible by discussing family planning - having a ‘constructive and empowered conversation’, with your employer.
Another aspect is encouraging working environments where children can be incorporated in rather than creating a work and family divide.
The ‘gap’ between leaving an industry to have children and then returning to work can often mean, especially with freelancers, that you have to start from zero. - Directly impacting on female leadership (?!)

Events and clubs
2018 - 100 yrs since getting the vote
Quarter club - http://thequarterclub.org/
Ellevate - https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/
The Trouble Club - http://www.joylodico.com/trouble/
Forward Ladies - http://forwardladies.com/
30% club - https://30percentclub.org/

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COMMENTS: 1

Amy Clare Tasker

23 January 2017

Thank you so much Anabel! I really wanted to come to your session, but I was running one of my own at the same time.

A few years ago, I started a group called GAP Salon (Gender and Performance) which used to meet in person, but now we are mostly active on Facebook. You can find us at www.facebook.com/groups/GAPsalon

Cheers,
Amy

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