I was reading through The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment issue, and was struck by how many of the women on the list suggested dealing with sexism — mostly by working through it:
Disney Media Networks Co-Chairman and Disney/ABC Television Group President
Must-Have Qualities of a Power Leader: I think the must have power qualities for a female or male power leader are really the ability to focus, to work hard, to be extremely goal oriented, and to not let the noise and the nonsense interfere with your mission — what you really feel you want to do with your career and your life…
HLN Host and Former DWTS Contestant…
Advice: I think the most important thing I took from my mother is her work ethic, which is basically, there may be others who are more powerful, more cunning and more beautiful than you, but you can out work them. You can work harder. Believe in yourself and outwork everybody else and you’ll make it…
Reality Star, Author and Mogul
Must-Have Qualities: Don’t ever assume anyone is smarter than you. Men, sometimes, in particular. Be able to understand the power of women and that the unimaginable is possible. I built my entire business from not underestimating women and realizing that women make the decisions in the household and have the buying power and not underestimating women and not dumbing it down…
Comedian, Reality Star
Must-Have Qualities: I think you should be fearless, you should be outspoken and you should, stay focused and do your job. Because it’s easy to get bogged down in the fact that men still make 70 cents on the dollar etc. and I’m in a very male driven field obviously but I think when you just sort of stay in your lane, do your job, that’s really how you get beyond that and have fun.
I don’t think this is wrong, exactly. If we got paralyzed by the persistence of sexism in society, we wouldn’t do anything to eradicate it, or indeed, anything at all. And I think some of these responses make clear the effort it takes not to get dragged down or distracted by the knowledge that you might be earning less than your male equivalents, to not let your self-esteem get damaged by the occasional assumption that you’re riding your sex appeal to success. It takes energy to pretend that things are normal when they aren’t, or that they don’t get to you when they do. But ultimately, the success of individual women isn’t actually going to diminish the prevalence of those assumptions or close the pay gap.
I’d be curious to know how much these women benefited from female mentors who both pushed back on those assumptions and closed those gaps, and made it easier for women to succeed generally and specifically. And I’d be curious to know if changing the culture of Hollywood as well as driving the creation of successful content is part of what The Hollywood Reporter considers in making this list. Hit shows and big trends will come and go, and the fortunes of networks and studios rise and fall. Permanently bending the curve on how women are treated on screen and behind it in Hollywood would be a lasting accomplishment.