All over the world, we’re witnessing the steady build of a conscious, breathing, vocal movement of women, who are speaking a little more loudly about their issues and situations.
There has never been a more critical time for women to play their part in the telling of stories.
Not just their own stories, but the stories of their livelihoods, their businesses, their motivation, their people and their raisons d’être.
Because the last thing that women need, as the 21st century speeds along, is a social video culture that exactly mirrors the patriarchal tastes of traditional media.
Women will not benefit from an online media landscape that is dominated by the usual male voices and male expertise that is so prevalent in newspapers, television and film.
The Media Skew
Did you know that women make up only 26 per cent of the subjects and stories that are published or tweeted by the main online news players? (Source: Global Media Monitoring Project )
While women are most often called upon for popular opinion (42%), they are far less likely to be asked for expertise.
Only 18% of expert commentary in online media comes from women.
That is pretty shocking ugly truth.
Women in film are minority sports
In 2018, Hollywood gave the nod to the Great Greta Gerwig in the Best Director Oscar category. Whoopee-do. One woman out of five nominees.
In 2019, no ladies nominated. In 2020, no ladies nominated. Baby steps backwards.
Closer to home – and to the bone, the patchy figures around Irish film production show that between 1993 and 2013, only 13% of Irish-produced screenplays were written by women.
That’s a whole generation of Irish women whose stories have not been told.
Haven’t we been here before?
We’ve been here for ages.
The Bangkok Declaration asserted in 1994 that “It is essential to promote forms of communication that not only challenge the patriarchal nature of media but strive to decentralise and democratise them: to create media that encourage dialogue and debate; media that advance women and peoples’ creativity.”
More than twenty years later, this is still a lethal high-voltage live issue, and not just in Asia, which was the focus of that document.
And women need to be part of the solution, not the problem.
Get it together, ladies.
It’s vital to take the opportunity offered by digital tools to get your story out there.
It’s very important for women in business, for example.
Who is shaping the story of your company? Who is telling that story?
Are you happy with the story that’s being told?
Women in business can own those stories now, but they need to step up and take a hold of the narrative. Customers (sometimes massively female-skewed) will thank your company for authentic, empathetic content.
The democratisation of digital technology and publishing platforms is the key to opening the locked doors of traditional (male) media.
There has never been a more crucial time, but there has never been an easier time.
For a start, every woman has a voice and something to say.
You can start by experimenting.
Write a blog post.
Collate a series of images.
Or make a short video.
You can make one today using something like Soapbox, which is a free extension for Google Chrome that allows you to make a short snazzy video right from your laptop, with no editing experience required.
It’s so easy, a man might even manage it. 🙂
Every woman has access to the tools for telling the stories that are slipping through the mainstream net.
Every woman has a camera in her pocket.
Put yourself out there
Don’t hide your light under a bushel.
If you’re an expert on something, (and everyone’s an expert on something),
put your name on a list like this one run by Women On Air, which is a group that is working hard to address gender imbalance in broadcast media.
They even organise workshops and training to build your confidence for radio or television.
These kinds of initiatives are invaluable for women who know they have something to say, but who rarely get asked to share what they know, online or anywhere.
Serve it up, or be served to…
What’s the alternative? Seriously!
Women cannot sit back and allow the same old status quo to take hold while the marching digital revolution leaves them behind.
Learn to tell stories well. Start writing them down. Learn to film and edit them.
Otherwise, at best, your story will be chewed up and re-packaged with an odd flavour and a whiff of not-quite-what-you-wanted-to-say.
At worst, your brilliant story may be ignored or dismissed by media platforms, that more and more are looking and sounding like something from the bad old days.
Niamh Guckian is the Director of Go Motion Academy
Providing Training in Video for Social Media & Digital Marketing