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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:

TV

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.

MOVIES

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!

MUSIC

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.

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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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How These Companies Are Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

According to a recent study, anti-Asian hate crimes have risen 150% since the pandemic started. But these acts of violence are not new — they are part of a much larger history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S.

That makes celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (which was named a month-long celebration in May by Congress in 1992 "to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843 and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869") this year all the more important.

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"There are an extensive amount of things that have to go perfectly at the same time," says the former engineer (and current product manager at live event ticketing platform SeatGeek).

It was that interest in understanding how things actually worked that drove Anuja to study engineering—first electrical, during her undergrad in India, and then computer science, during her master's program in the U.S.

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Being fully committed to work and family is a challenge that many working parents have to take on. It can be exhausting and thankless pursuing a fulfilling full-time career, while taking an active role as a parent. Achieving a healthy balance can help keep you motivated and productive at work, while allowing you to be fully present when you're home.

We recently chatted with working moms at technology skills platform, Pluralsight, about their best advice for striking that elusive work-life balance. Here were their key points:

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How to Make the Most of Being on a Growing Team: 3 Tips from Plex’s Adriana Bosinceanu

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She went from being one of eight engineers on a small team building a streaming service to joining a company that was five times larger and had a much bigger scope.

That company was Plex, where Adriana has been working remotely as a software engineer for the last four and a half years.

As her team grew from two people to ten, Adriana decided to lean into the opportunity to grow; along the way, she found herself deepening her technical skills, her self-confidence, and her relationships. We sat down with Adriana to learn exactly how she did that, and to hear the tips she has for other engineers experiencing growth opportunities on their team.

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What These Companies Are Doing to Celebrate Juneteenth 2021

*Updated on June 17th, 2021 to reflect Juneteenth officially being named a Federal Holiday in the U.S.*

Juneteenth has been celebrated by African-Americans since the late 1800s, but in recent years (particularly in response to global protests over police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans), there has been a surge in interest in the day that celebrates freedom.

Before it became an official federal holiday, many businesses shifted toward marking June 19th as an annual company holiday, creating different initiatives around the holiday and offering employees opportunities to learn, reflect, and take action toward racial equality.

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