International Women’s Day: Do We Still Need it?

Lauren Schwartz
EP/owner at kaboom productions

As the person behind a woman-owned company, which has been officially certified as such for about 15 years now, I think about this every day. I think about it intensely when certification time comes around yearly, and I reflect on it when people act performatively in the name of IWD.

Do we still need International Women’s Day? Yes we do. How many female owned and run production companies do you know? Do they make up 50% of all production companies out there? What about female directors? We have a few women directors now and I intend on signing more young talented female directors this year. But how many commercial shoots are actually helmed by women? 50%? Nowhere near.

And agency creatives: The 3% conference started because of the dearth of female creative talent at creative director levels. By last count, I think the creative director number had risen to 13%. Definitely not 50%.

And don’t get me started on the crew and the lack of female representation.

So my point is, until we have parity, until being a woman-owned business or female director, or creative director…or DP, gaffer or production designer is just a regular old thing – we need International Women’s Day.

Yes, it can feel a bit like a greeting card moment. But at least once a year we are reminded that we are not at parity and we need to be. Diverse groups create better work. It’s a proven fact.

We have come a long way. I remember years ago, when I first went through the hassle to become officially certified as woman owned, no one really seemed to care. Icing on the cake, sure. But something a brand sought out? Not really. But now…it is changing. Today, I am invited to pitch on projects because I am a woman-owned business. It gets us in the door to showcase our company and talent when we might not have been able to do so before.

I also applaud Free the Bid (now Free The Work) and all that it has done to amplify female (and other underrepresented) talent. When creatives get to work with diverse talent, they are leveraging voices that can connect to different perspectives. It makes for more compelling work, full stop.

And when we, as a woman-owned businesses, can bring a female directing talent to the mix – well, that is the best outcome you can have. Female director and female run business. Everyone is happy.

But until that scenario is routine we still need International Women’s Day. Until then, I’ll be working towards the moment when it seems unnecessary. And when that happens, it'll be a great moment for our industry and society at large.

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Lauren Schwartz