Written by Mary Lieu on the 8th of November, 2016
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Sarah Mak, David Llyod-Lewis, and their team at TheStoryBoxes, are the brains behind our SheStarts video. We spoke to Sarah about her entrepreneurial journey early last month, but wanted to delve a little deeper into the mission behind the video and the women who played a part in it. Aimee Hourigan, Impact Producer at TheStoryBoxes, was kind enough to share her insights into the making of the film with us.
By Aimee Hourigan
It’s often said that before people can change the world they must first be understood.
The social and personal standards that we set for ourselves as a society seem to dictate that we must be able to communicate our goals and dreams with readiness and ease. They say we must be remarkable and limitless, able to take risks that put us in the spotlight and solidify our difference from others. We must create products, services, and processes whose underlying purposes are to change lives and meaningfully contribute to the discussion of several key social issues.
And yet, the actual requirements for being remarkable far outweigh the opportunities, particularly for women, and even more so in technology and business.
At TheStoryBoxes, we can proudly say we have a 50/50 gender balance when it comes to the remarkable individuals who work in our studio. What’s more, we try whenever possible to rotate roles – the cinematographer becomes producer, the producer becomes the director – to keep the creative juices flowing and to further our skillsets in multiple areas.
When people “graduate” from our team, we know they have the know-how to go on and do great things.
However, as a whole, Australia’s gender status is poor. Our nation ranks at number 36 on the Global Gender Gap index (2015), beneath countries such as Mozambique, Lithuania, and Namibia. Only 28% of tertiary STEM students are female, and only a third of all technology jobs, including those in IT/computer departments within other industries, are held by women.
But the gender gap is about more than just the numbers, more than just the facts. It’s about the people – the amazing, talented women who sit at the core of those professions and industries, who come with their ideas and their ambitions only to be knocked down by a society that has yet to recognise their hard-earned brilliance.
The broad social perspective on tech startups is pigeonholed, or so it would seem. Creating a tech startup is limited to those who have a background or experience working in the field of information technology or computer science, who can understand the intricate inner-workings of a mobile device, who can break apart and rebuild a circuitry system in 30 seconds flat.
Does that seem unrealistic?
Investors and venture capitalists around the globe are now taking purposeful measures to create funding networks, competitive incubators, and accelerator programs that focus on providing funding for startups founded by women. We’ve been privileged to work with SheStarts, an Australian accelerator program doing just that – they’ve committed to fund and launch 10 female-led startups simultaneously, taking entries from ambitious women with poignant ideas living anywhere in Australia.
We produced their launch film during four intensive days in late September. Creating a film that would showcase the diversity of women and remove the gender stigma surrounding tech founders and the startup world in such a “compact” time frame was ambitious. Yet, guided by our creative storytelling process – a well-established means of filmmaking that combines the empathetic powers of the heart with the proactive curiosity of the mind – we (to put it in the vernacular) hit the ground running.
As we hustled to reach out to our professional networks and social circles to find women keen to participate, we were overwhelmed to see how many bold and remarkable women we actually knew.
Women like Kristin, a national champion powerlifter who only started the strength sport 6 months ago. Women like Kristen and Nadine, whose passion for bringing a greater female presence to children’s television and animated content has made them a notable force to be reckoned with in the screen and entertainment industry. Women like Virginia, who balances motherhood with her career as a natural foods chef, yoga instructor, and health coach.
We were also thrilled to feature women currently working in the tech industry; women who have met the startup glass-ceiling and powered through it. Women like Cas, whose idea to create Writally – a streamlined service guiding businesses to create well-written blogs – came to her whilst doing the mundane task of weeding her front yard. Women like Danielle and Sheree of Therapair, who showed the same dedication they apply to their business – an online platform making massages more comfortable for the customer by letting them get to know their massage therapist before they book an appointment – to our film, travelling more than an hour solely to be a part of the production. Women who are, without a doubt, remarkable.
Seeing all the women get involved and respond so positively to the SheStarts program gave us an incredible sense of confidence and faith in the message behind the film. These are women who are studying to be mechanical engineers and chemical scientists, who are disability advocates and animal cruelty activists, who are entrepreneurs, bloggers, personal trainers, mothers, sisters, wives, and girlfriends.
But no matter what they did, or where they came from, these women believed in the message of SheStarts: through opportunity comes change.
After all, in the unchartered world of tech startups, it’s not your tech or business knowledge that defines your success but the resilience, commitment and energy you put into turning your ideas into a reality.