Servus Credit Union Women's Network recently held a viewing for it's members on the Jennifer Siebel Newsom documentary called "Miss Representation". We had a terrific turnout from our network members and started a great conversation around women's portrayal in the media. This has been the third time I've viewed this film, but it never gets old. The first time was at an International Womens Day event, the second I watched it at home with my family and most recently with our network.
I've had time to reflect on the message of the film and thought about how media impacts our roles within the business world. It would be easy to say that the lack of women in senior roles or leadership positions lays solely at the door of the media, but that would be blatantly false and unrealistic. Within the documentary the director contradicts herself by quoting Marian Wright Edelman "You can't be what you can't see". She then has Condaleeza Rice stating that all of the women pioneers, including Sally Ride - the first American woman in space - didn't have another woman to look up to. That they simply had a drive to do something they were passionate about. We need to stop waiting for other women to break down the barriers that we see or perceive are out there and start taking responsibility for what we see as failures within the corporate world.
While we may not be getting the help we need from the media in showing our young women and men what 'real women' look like or have the ability to be, we have to take responsibility for our own actions. Ultimately, it's my responsibility to show my daughter that her appearance - while important - isn't more important than her intellect, or her personality. Or that the women she watches on Jersey Shore are most definitely not to be emulated. I don't necessarily believe that not watching certain shows will wake up media into changing their programming. What this film does provide however, is an awareness. I feel having an awareness of what's being portrayed is almost more important. It allows us to have these conversations, to steer our children (both male and female) in the right direction and provide the guidance that we should be offering and not leave it up to the TV to do that. Perhaps, by building confidence and allowing them to see that women are just as powerful as men we'll start to see more women within leadership positions.
Anyway, that's enough proselytizing from me! Check out the film, it's a great conversation starter. You can purchase the DVD on Amazon for about $20.