Women Studies/Producers in the Media

Producers in the Media


As we have discussed, the media greatly affects how we view and categorize women. Our perception of what it means to be “feminine” comes from how we see females behave in our wide variety of media outlets. Portrayals of females and female leaders are especially stereotyped in movies. The interesting aspect of movie media though, is that only about 18% of movie producers are women (Sperling). This section will delve deeper into how and why women producers are making their way through the labyrinth. First, we will look at how women are achieving the top leadership position in the move industry.

The key to being a female producer is having help. In the article “The Difference “difference” Makes” Teveia Barnes discusses the need for women to have a “white, male champion”. This white, male champion is someone who has power in his field and is willing to help women reach leadership roles within an industry. Since white males dominate leadership positions in every field this idea applies to the movie industry as well. Female producers in today’s world all get to their producer position by having their very own white, male champions. For some of the women, their husbands are their biggest champions. Many of them are married to already-famous producers. Their husbands in turn champion for them to become their own producers and give them the support and networking needed to reach that position. Other forms of champions include other major film names that support women’s access to leadership positions. One example of this comes from the aforementioned article by Nicole Sperling, “Meet the Female Producers smashing Hollywood’s Glass Ceiling”. Sperling talks about female producer and president of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, being championed by her former boss Steven Spielberg. Spielberg is a great example of a white male that is powerful in his field and works hard to make women a part of that field. These champions also fit in with the idea of social capital, discussed in “Through the Labyrinth” by Eagly and Carli. Building up a name or a company by creating positive relationships with colleagues and such is called social capital. (Eagly and Carli) The act of socializing with their male champions is a very large part of these female producers growing business.

The other form of help that has allowed women to rise to the position of a producer is money. Several big-name female producers credit their success to having the financial resources to make it happen. Sperling gives the example of producer Megan Ellison, who used her inheritance money to self-finance movies that other studios wouldn’t.

Second, is the question, “Why do women want to be producers?” Producers have ultimate control over all of the aspects of a film. A large benefit to being a producer is that you don’t have to be hired. Producers do the hiring, therefore eliminating most of the gender prejudice in gaining their position. Producers make a lot of money, as well as receive respect from the media community. One of the most important aspects of women being producers though, is that they have the power to realistically represent female characters in their films, which can help break gender stereotypes that the general public sees. Although they may not have control over large portions of the script, they can control costumes, and the people working on the set. These women have the potential to represent women in a more realistic way, because they themselves know how women really do dress and behave.

Female producers are rising greatly in number and power. They are working on more movies than ever before. These women are finding the way through the labyrinth, and become successful leaders in the field of media. They are finding their way through the labyrinth by the help of their champions, some by their own personal-finance, and most importantly, their ability to do their job well.