The Best New Women-Created Media to Be Consuming Right Now
I'm assuming you're with me in spending copious hours consuming various forms of media lately. Whether that's watching cartoons with your kids, putting on the latest Netflix series to drown out the soul-sucking ennui native to long-term social distancing, joining virtual watch parties to connect with friends and family from afar, or listening to new playlists to keep yourself entertained as you scrub the ever-present pile of dishes in the sink, I'd bet we're all finding ourselves more mired in media than usual.
But the media landscape is one particularly vulnerable to gender-based discrimination. A McKinsey report found that while entry-level women in media are well-represented, there's a dearth of women at senior levels, meaning that the people green-lighting projects, directing movies, producing TV series, and leading media strategies are, more often than not, men. That gap is even more serious when it comes to women of color.
Per the Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film at San Diego State University, for the 100 top-grossing films of 2019, women only made up:
- 26% of producers
- 20% of writers
- 23% of editors
- 12% of directors
- and 2% of cinematographers
But there's hope: when women are in those leadership roles, more women are employed throughout a show or movie's production. A 2019 study found that movies with at least one female director employed greater percentages of women in the rest of the production than films helmed by men.
So while I'm consuming more media than normal, I'm doing my best to make sure that media was made by women. I'm keeping myself entertained while also contributing to supporting women's equality, and that's what I've come to call productivity in this new normal. Here is an incomplete list of my favorite women-created media right now:
Never Have I Ever | Netflix
This Mindy Kaling-created teen dramedy centers around an Indian-American high school student, played by Tamil-Canadian rookie actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who's trying to lose her virginity while also processing her father's untimely death. Both subjects are handled with grace, humor, and genuine thoughtfulness, and the writing is far more clever than your average teen sitcom (here's looking at you, Riverdale). The casting is diverse without being typecast, and that's an extra bonus.
Insecure | HBO
The fourth season of this series created, produced, and written by (and starring) comedy phenom Issa Rae focuses on the love lives, family drama, and professional arcs of a group of black friends living in LA and just trying to get it together. Come for the incredible dialogue, and stay for the meaningful reflection on growth and change in relationships.
Run | HBO
Phoebe Waller-Bridge (and Vicky Jones) produced this sexy thriller, so if that's not reason enough to watch, did you not love Fleabag or do you hate all good things? The general premise is a surprise reunion of two ex-lovers (with truly believable tension, thanks to excellent performances by Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson) that lets viewers figure out exactly what's happening, episode by episode.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire | Hulu
This French historical drama technically came out in 2019, but it just hit American Hulu this month, so I say it counts for this round-up. The romantic (and incredibly lushly filmed) story follows the relationship between a lady of high society and the painter commissioned to make a portrait of her. It was directed and written by Céline Sciamma and features a female cinematographer and producer, to boot.
Selah and the Spades | Amazon Prime
This movie takes place at Haldwell, a made-up boarding school in Pennsylvania populated by mob-like cliques of power-seeking teens, and features a complicated drug trade, plenty of drama, and a black woman seeking to take control of her own destiny. Directed and written by Tayarisha Poe, the movie—Poe's first feature film—is incredibly watchable.
The Half of It | Netflix
Technically, I haven't seen this movie yet—it comes out on May 1, and I had to have this copy in ahead of that date—but just read this Netflix-provided synopsis and tell me you're not dying to watch: "A shy, introverted, Chinese-American, straight-A student finds herself helping the school jock woo the girl they both secretly love." And the film is written, directed, and produced by Alice Wu, who wrote her first screenplay while working as a software engineer for Microsoft. We love a multi-talented directing queen!
Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa
Unlike her debut album, Dua Lipa's sophomore release, which came out in April, is all hers—she has a writing credit on every song. While the record remains fully within the pop realm with lots of tracks that will be well-suited to a dance floor, if we're ever allowed on those again, there are also references to feminism, violence against women, and the importance of community.
Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple
If not album of the year, definitely album title of the year, no? Apple's latest release came as a surprise, dropping on April 17th to much fan excitement, and features experimental percussion along with exploration of themes of confinement, power, and speaking out.
Savage Remix (Feat. Beyoncé) by Megan Thee Stallion
Even overexposure to the chorus of this incredibly empowering hit via TikTok dance barrage couldn't stop me from thoroughly loving the remix, which came out on April 29th and set the music world (hell, the entire world) aflame. The song is a true remix, featuring four new verses and plenty of Beyoncé rapping, which is really what I needed to get to the end of this week.
Did I miss your favorite new women-helmed shows, movies, or musical releases? Please share in the comments! I have alllll the streaming services and nothing but time to indulge in them.
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Diversity Reboot 2021: The One Hundred Day Kickoff<p><strong>When</strong>: February 1-5, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free!</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://summit.powertofly.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>We had to include our own Diversity Reboot on our list of the best diversity and inclusion events to attend in 2021 because we know firsthand how the quality of 100+ expert speakers, the enthusiasm of 10,000 participants, and the cutting-edge tech that enables meaningful virtual networking and job fairs combine to create a truly epic five-day experience. This year, the theme 100 Day Kickoff harnesses the energy of the new government's first 100 days in office to help jump-start personal and professional plans to build more diverse and inclusive workplaces. </p><p>Following the February summit, we'll have a monthly series of smaller virtual summits on topics spanning everything from returnships to LGBTQ+ advocacy, so be sure to stay tuned for updates!<br></p>
The Future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When</strong>: February 3-4, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hr.com/en/webcasts_events/virtual_events/upcoming_virtual_events/the-future-of-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-2021_kcxf8glq.html#detail" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This virtual conference put on by HR.com focuses on how social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have pushed DEI at work beyond legal compliance and into a major factor of any company or brand's culture, employee engagement, and performance. Topics include how to uncover and resolve pay gaps across your team and hire top-level diverse talent.</p>
Workplace Revolution: From Talk to Collective Action<p><strong>When</strong>: March 8-12, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$820</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://cvent.me/ZQ4BbE" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>The Forum on Workplace Inclusion's 33rd annual conference includes 12 session tracks, from DEI Strategy to Social Responsibility, along with 59 workshops and daily networking sessions. This year's theme focuses on one question: "What will it take to start a workplace revolution that moves us from talk to action?"</p>
Diversity: How Employers Can Match Words With Deeds<p><strong>When</strong><strong>: </strong>May 19, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register</strong><strong>: </strong>Early bird registration is $49 and general admission is $149</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://hopin.com/events/may-virtual-conference-diversity-how-employers-can-match-words-with-deeds" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Here</a></p><p>From Day One is hosting monthly conferences in 2021 focused on different ways for companies to foster strong relationships with their customers, communities, and employees. May's half-day virtual event is focused specifically on how companies can make diversity promises that don't fall flat and features workshops, panels, and a fireside chat.</p>
Hire with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion<p><strong>When:</strong> August 18, 2021</p><p><strong>Where: </strong>Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$195</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hci.org/conferences/2021-virtual-conference-hire-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-august-18-2021" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This conference put on by the Human Capital Institute is one of 12 virtual conferences that HCI has planned for 2021. This one focuses on fair and inclusive talent acquisition, including how to attract diverse talent, implement inclusive hiring practices, and addressing bias in employee selection. Other conferences will focus on optimizing talent strategy, engaging employees, and developing your workforce.</p>
Virtual Grace Hopper Celebration 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> September 26-29, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual, broadcast from Chicago, Illinois</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Was $799 for regular access to the virtual conference in 2020; 2021 pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://ghc.anitab.org/attend/registration/" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>Grace Hopper might be the best-known conference for women in tech. Through keynote presentations, networking sessions, job fairs, and community-building activities, vGHC reached over 30,000 women for their 2020 conference and are expecting even more in 2021! While not a conference focused exclusively on diversity and inclusion, many speakers plan to focus their talks on creating environments for women to thrive in the male-dominated tech field.</p>
Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> October 25-27, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual and in person in Austin, Texas as of now</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://conferences.shrm.org/inclusion" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>The Society for Human Resource Management's biggest conference of the year saw 1,200 DEI leaders participate last year; SHRM hopes to see even more come to learn, be inspired, and to walk away with a playbook of implementable strategies to create truly inclusive workplace cultures.</p>
AfroTech 2021<p><strong></strong><strong>When:</strong> November 8-13, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Early bird pricing is $149 for individuals and $249 for corporate attendees; regular pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://experience.afrotech.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>AfroTech is a conference hosted by Blavity, a tech media platform for Black millennials. It focuses on emerging tech trends, connecting Black talent with top tech recruiters, and providing networking and educational opportunities, with an overall goal of building a strong Black tech community. Over 10,000 people participated in 2020. While the conference isn't focused specifically on DEI, its main audience of Black tech talent is an important one to understand and to engage at work and beyond, and several speakers plan to focus on issues of race and inclusion at work. </p>
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