Filmmaker Newsom tackles gender bias at NEW Summit
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Posted by: Barbara Francella
culture encourages young girls to embrace "princess” stereotypes that discourage
leadership traits and breed gender bias, filmmaker and activist Jennifer Siebel
Newsom told NEW members at the NEW Leadership Summit, Oct. 23, 2013 in Los
has traditionally been reserved for men,” said Newsom, the writer, producer and
director of "Miss Representation” during her closing keynote speech, "Redefining
NEW Summit photo album on Facebook
Young girls hear about their looks, rather than their capacity to lead, while
their "brothers and male peers are told early on that they are our natural born
leaders,” Newsom said.
young girls have princess-themed birthday parties complete with tiaras and
jewelry-making stations, but no inherent themes of leadership or
responsibility. "The princess doesn’t really do anything during the day,”
Newsom said, "and Prince Charming might not even show up, right? I want my
daughter to have options and I don’t think the ‘princess’ option is a healthy
boys have been limited as well as they are forced to conform to notions of
masculinity that value qualities like aggression and domination over empathy
and caring. Research shows "boys at birth are more emotional than girls, but we
socialize that out of them,” she said. "We need to explore what has become
normalized in our country.”
actress, Newsom was told by her agent to lie about her age and take her MBA off
of her resume. She realized the things she’d passionately worked for were not
valued by the entertainment industry.
are now being sold sex and violence 24/7,” Newsom said. "It’s getting worse
with reality TV and infotainment, and young people are absorbing messages. They
don’t know that ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ is not reality.
be told, it’s distracting our daughters, killing their confidence and ambition,
and robbing our boys of empathy and emotion.”
Gender bias permeates professional culture, Newsom said, citing a study that revealed
science professors view female job candidates as less worthy and offer them fewer jobs, mentoring opportunities and lower salaries.
in corporate positions receive more raises than male peers, men receive up to
60 percent more money in their raises, Newsom said. "Companies led by women and diverse teams perform better. So why
isn’t there change at the top?”
the hurdles: Women aren’t given adequate resources to help them advance and men
are typically given larger projects with larger budgets and more resources.
biases are so unconsciously institutionalized, these leaders aren’t aware of
the inequities,” Newsom said. "We’ve culturally accepted that a man in the lead
is more valuable than a woman.”
Changing the norms of gender expectation will take a group effort. Parents have
a choice to steer daughters away from the limiting ‘princess’ culture and men
can counsel younger male employees to have a healthier perspective of
women. "Stand up and speak out against that which demeans and degrades women
and girls and limits men and boys.” Newsom urged.
At the corporate level, CEOs need to mandate that everyone in the organization
support the advancement of women. "It can’t just be one woman and 10 male
candidates, brought to attention by a recruiting firm,” she said.
Gender bias limits women's and men's life choices,
filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom told NEW Summit attendees.