Why do male directors choose which stories make the front page? Why do stories children learn from feature pretty delicate princesses needing to be saved by handsome princes? This round table addressed the changes we’ll see when women have the same opportunities as men in media.
Kyoko Altman, who worked as a journalist for 20 years, facilitated this session. She opened the panel by asking the audience about their interest and involvement in film and media, and shared some of her own experiences as a female journalist trying to gain legitimacy in the Japanese news industry.
Melissa Silverstein, founder & editor of Women and Hollywood and Artistic Director of the Athena Film Festival, is also a well known Hollywood film blogger with an impressive presence on social media. She spoke about one of her most important life lessons: “You have to find a voice, because then people can relate to you.” She discussed the development of female presence in the Hollywood industry, enlightening the audience with how women can reach important positions in the film industry and how to break the highly gendered “glass ceiling.” Ms. Silverstein shared both personal and general insight on the scrutiny and stereotypes that women often face in male-dominated industries as well as via social media. She offered guidance on how women can overcome these issues, and what needs to be done to get a greater presence of women at all levels of business.
Ambassador Andrijana Cvetkovikj, who represents the Republic of Macedonia in Japan, shed light on a wide range of experiences she has faced as a female professor, film director, and ambassador. She shared the difficult experience of being the only woman admitted to a film academy in Bulgaria, and the onslaught she faced from both family and colleagues. She stressed the importance of developing high-level communication skills, advising the participants to “Learn how to communicate with people and make them want to listen to you.” She advised the participants to be persistent and stay strong, and revealed key factors that can help smooth the path for women to succeed in male-dominated industries. She said it is important when facing a difficult discussion or negotiation to treat the other party with respect and to be kind. With regard to female directors specifically, she stated, “If you do your job competently, they have no other choice but to follow and listen.” Following up on Ms. Silverstein’s discussion on female stereotyping in media, she shared her own experience of this as a director, referencing female stereotypes in Japanese cinema and the advertising industry. She stressed to “never take no for an answer.”
In the Question & Answer session following the discussion, Ambassador Cvetkovikj talked about what she considers crucial in bringing forth change for women, as well as how to gain authority in what she calls “a world of misconceptions.” She also shared expertise on how women should behave when stepping onto sets in positions of authority. Adding to Ambassador Cvetkovikj’s points, Ms. Silverstein reiterated what she believed was most fundamental in bringing about change towards women’s involvement in the career world. Ms. Altman, Ms. Silverstein and Ambassador Cvetkovikj all provided advice based on their own experiences as accomplished women in the world of media on how to combat public criticism regarding femininity and appearance.