When I was in college, I produced and shot a documentary about what it was like to be a woman in the entertainment industry. My fellow female classmates and I were about to enter a male-dominated field, and we had so many questions about what to expect.
After many years living this reality, I still have so many questions, which is part of what led me to start the Beacons of Badassery series. I was looking for answers from the awesome women I saw kicking ass in their lives and adventures.
But as I began crafting questions for the interviews, I realized that I needed to reflect on a lot of the same questions myself. I’ve been struggling with what it means to be a woman in a man’s world for so long now, and if I want to have a conversation about this, I have to contribute my own thoughts.
So here’s a start.
“It’s always you and a bunch of guys.”
That was the comment my friend made when she saw my Facebook post, featuring a photo of me and my BullsTV crew.
And it’s true. As a female camera operator in sports television, I am not quite a unicorn, but definitely a rare sighting.
I’ve had a woman in the stands at a soccer game tap me on the shoulder to say she was so happy to see another woman behind the camera because she’d never seen it before. A female security guard told me the same thing at an NFL game.
Yet I’ve also walked up to a production truck to check in with the tech manager and been told “You’re too pretty to be a camera op.” Many other times I’ve simply seen a fleeting look of surprise when I introduce myself and my position on the crew.
It’s empowering to be a woman in a man’s world, but it’s also exhausting.
I’ve worked with so many truly wonderful men who saw me first and foremost as a capable, skilled camera person. Men who trusted me and my abilities and had full confidence I could do the job. Men who hired me and recommended me and always believed in me.
But I’ve also worked with men who doubted my physical strength and always tried to carry things for me. Men who sexually harassed me. Men who have doubted that I belong in my position.
I am proud when I prove myself and all the guys on the crew shake my hand and tell me I did a great job. But I am also disappointed that the reason they did that is because the woman who worked the last game was in over her head, so they assumed I was, too.
I am touched and feel like a trailblazer when a little girl sitting courtside sees me and exclaims, you have the best job in the world!” with bright-eyed enthusiasm. But I am also worried that if she pursues this career path, she will face discrimination simply because she is a girl.
I’m inspired when I see women technical directors and women engineers on shows I work – and when I’m not the only woman on the camera crew. But I’m tired of still being surprised to see them.
I know I’m not alone in my experience. This is why I’m asking questions of other women.
Because I believe that by sharing our stories, we support each other.
And together, hopefully, we can change our experience.