On March 1, 2019, the meeting with US directors Andrea Nevins and Sharon Rowen, called “The Art of Interview. How has the attitude towards women in journalism and jurisprudence changed?”, was held at the Institute of Journalism Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. It was dedicated to documentaries on the role of women in the society. Andrea and Sharon presented their works at the American Independence Film Festival.
Sharon Rowen is a film producer and director. She also is an experienced trial lawyer, who has worked for more than 30 years in the US legal system and has explored the challenges faced by female lawyers in this country. In her groundbreaking film “Balancing the Scales”, Ms. Rowen talks about gender equality in the legal field by interviewing five generations of women lawyers. Sharon’s documentary is an attempt to ignite a national conversation about topics like getting rid of the glass ceiling, the career vs. caregiving responsibility issues and why society believes leadership is a male prerogative.
Ms. Rowen is really concerned about the fact that every society most likely perceives a woman professional as an assistant but not as a leader. Sharon dived deep into the phenomenon and shared her findings with journalism students. In her opinion, discrimination lies in the plane of our thinking process. When we hear the word ‘leader’ most of us imagine a man. But by relating the leadership only with men, we diminish the role of female leaders.
Andrea Nevins is a producer and filmmaker. Ms. Nevins had worked as a journalist for a long time before she became the victim of sexual harassment from her boss. Although the boss obviously was guilty and should have been punished, Andrea was made to leave her job. At that moment, Andrea Nevins realized – female journalists are still subject to sexual harassment, assault or discrimination at work and nobody can guarantee security for them. That is why Ms. Nevins decided to become an independent filmmaker and create documentaries, especially on gender issues.
Andrea Nevins has brought to Ukraine her new film “Tiny Shoulders, Rethinking Barbie” dedicated to the world’s most famous doll and her cultural implications. According to Andrea, Barbie has become a symbol of discrimination and a target for feminists. For that reason, the director decided to tell with the help of her film why this has happened and review the role of the toy. Andrea shared an exciting story: “One of the female spectators before watching the film had considered Barbie as the evil and the cause of discrimination against women. Therefore, the woman had promised herself never to buy the doll for her daughter. However, the movie destroyed the stereotype in her mind and after watching the film she changed her attitude towards the doll”. The film showed the woman that only our perception of Barbie created her negative image and society itself gave the toy characteristics it did not originally have.
At the meeting, Andrea Nevins and Sharon Rowen presented trailers of their films and explained to students why they chose to work on gender topic. They also urged journalism students to join the discussion, which they began by asking questions to each other. In this way, Nevins and Rowen provided the audience with a small interview masterclass. After that, students gladly asked questions, which worried them most.
In particular, the audience was interested whether in the United States women get lower salaries than men, as it is in Ukraine. There were also questions about childcare and pregnancy as obstacles for a good career and about men’s actions towards women, which should be considered as discrimination or as a manifestation of good manners. Students also told filmmakers about gender issues in Ukraine. The political issues, the freedom of speech and the interference with the journalists’ professional duties were also discussed during the meeting. The audience had so many questions to ask, that the time allocated for the meeting was not enough to voice them all. Consequently, Andrea and Sharon had to continue responding to some of them personally after the main part of the meeting had finished.
Andrea Nevins and Sharon Rowen have spent more than a week in Kyiv presenting their films, participating in meetings and discussions on the role of women in society. Meeting “The Art of Interview. How the attitudes towards women in journalism and jurisprudence changed?” was held with the support of the US Embassy in Ukraine and the Department of International Cooperation of the Institute of Journalism Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.