Supporting Women in AV

By Brendan Sadgrove, Director

The technical production side of the events and touring world is predominantly made up of men. This has no doubt stemmed from the early days in the industry when issues such as sexual harassment, intimidation and the physical demands of life on the road turned most women away and thus created a culture of exclusion. While we have come a long way since then, we still have a lot further to go. We can’t just fix the issues of the past; we must go to extraordinary lengths to correct an extraordinary imbalance.

At Innovative, we do employ a number of great women, both full time and casual, but it is not nearly enough. One of these super stars is Jessica McCloughan, who is openly addressing this industry issue by highlighting problems and offering support for women in the industry, while also encouraging new women to join. To do this, Jess has founded Tech Sisters International, a rapidly growing group which aims to create a network of women to support each other in all aspects – including but not limited to tech knowledge, contacts, industry guidelines, employment, pay and emotional support.

The Australian Entertainment Industry has a very dark side to it that lots of people don’t see or are even aware of. In 2016, Entertainment Assist commissioned Victoria University to conduct the largest survey of 2900 industry workers undertaken anywhere in the world. The results, covering everyone from entertainers to technical directors, stage managers, venue managers and event managers to tech crew and roadies, found that in the 12 months prior to the study, workers in the entertainment industry considered taking their own lives almost seven times more than the general population and for road crew members, it was nine times more. The rate of attempted suicide in the industry is more than double the rest of the population. The report also highlighted the negative culture in the industry, including sexism, racism, extreme competition and a bruising work environment. Read the summary of the report here. Further indications that something extraordinary has to be done in this industry.

At Innovative, we pride ourselves on nurturing a culture of equality and respect. This extends to our clients, contractors, suppliers and anyone we deal with in the events world. It is our responsibility to ensure that all personnel involved or working with Innovative feel safe and supported. We believe this creates an environment of comradery and mutual respect. This is not only a moral path we have taken, but also a business case to empower and promote the gender balance we need in the industry. We have seen a noticeable improvement in many aspects of our work when we have more women involved on jobs and in the office. The ‘boys club’ culture becomes dismantled and the work site is much more pleasant. This leads to a stronger sense of teamwork and of support for each other, which results in better work and a happier crew. We also experience a marked improvement in workplace health and safety, as the crew seems to take more care and also look out for each other when they are working in an inclusive environment alongside women. There is a long list of benefits to getting the gender balance back, so we encourage everyone to take extraordinary steps to achieve this.

While we don’t have all the answers to this problem, we are more than willing to give anything a go. Jess is already taking the leap and doing something about this problem, so to all you tech sisters out there, join this group! There are some big plans coming, so get on board. If you are a production company and want to help this group or receive more info, you can email email hidden; JavaScript is required

Tech sisters International – Click the link below to become a member!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2050993541688539/