Documentary ‘Pioneers In Skirts’ Tackles Issues Of Equality In The Workplace For Future Generations


What is the definition of a pioneer? Essentially it is someone who establishes something or becomes the first to do something that has not existed before.

When we talk about pioneer women, we’re not just talking about the women from America’s early history who wore large skirts and bonnets and traversed the country with their families and settling in new areas, we’re talking about women who have broken new ground, set new records and create space for women which did not previously exist.

You can name pretty much any industry or job and find a list of incredible female pioneers, whether it be science, math, engineering, writing, fashion, archaeology, health, filmmaking and even in the military. Yep, the iconic image of Rosie The Riveter above became a national symbol of the female pioneer spirit, as women became part of the workforce during WWII when all the men were off fighting, and the aviation and manufacturing industry needed these women to keep their factories running.

There are so many women throughout history who have become sources of inspiration for many of us women. But what about the women of the future? When we look at young girls today, will they look at our current generation of women and find empowering examples of pioneers, or will they see women who have become complacent because “hey we already have equality, and we have the right to vote so why bother?!”


A new documentary is exploring the notion of what it means to be a pioneer woman today and the great significance it will have on future generations of female leaders. ‘Pioneers in Skirts’ comes from director Ashley Maria, who is an award-winning filmmaker. Ashley came up with the idea after finishing college, looking ahead to her own career, and realizing some sobering things about society.

“Soon after I entered the film industry, I discovered that I wasn’t seen as a filmmaker, I would be forever a hyphenate: a woman-filmmaker. I graduated from a prominent school and when I first started out I had so much confidence. After winning several prestigious awards I felt I could accomplish anything,” she said on the film’s website.

“But confidence soon turned into doubt and insecurity. My opportunities that I worked so hard for and earned, were emotionally taken away from me each time someone simply said in passing, ‘Wow, you’re a woman and still accomplishing so much’,” she added.

The notion of not just being a human being with a valuable set of skills, but a gendered creature looking to supposedly compete with the other gender made Ashley want to work to change this stigma in society. Let’s be honest, she is not alone in her feeling, but rather than sulk in a corner, she took action in the hope that it will leave other girls with the confidence not to see their gender as any sort of barrier.


So she set about creating the film, and is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for post production and costs for final interviews. This documentary is not about looking back, it is about looking forward and creating solutions to the existing problems and gaps.

“I am learning that each time a new generation of women enters the workforce, they have to reinvent the wheel. What needs to happen for them to be better prepared? One idea is that it’s about building confidence – a confidence that lasts a lifetime. And, again, it’s about awareness,” said Ashley about her mission.

One of the issues about women not always having equal opportunities in the work place or having the right amount of confidence is awareness. This could be on behalf of an employer or a large corporation. Ashley is very adamant that this is not just a “man” problem and believes in solutions that include both men and women.

“I feel my biggest lesson learned is how massively important men are in the career advancement of women. Women certainly didn’t ask for these biases — and are just as guilty of having them as men are, but women and men need to be empowered to deal with unconscious biases,” she said.


We’ve seen recently in the news how Salesforce CEO and founder Marc Benioff has made a huge push to reevaluate all 16,000 of his employees’ salaries after being made aware that there are some women being paid less than men in the same role. Some could’ve easily said this wage gap was his fault or problem, yet he actually instigated the solution, and it all started with awareness.

‘Pioneers in Skirts’ is set to be released in 2016, but in the meantime if you feel strongly about this issue and want future girls and boys to enter a workforce that is devoid of gender bias, please consider contributing to the Kickstarter Campaign which is active until September 19. We will certainly keep our readers up to date with more developments about the film in the coming months.

Take a look at Ashley Maria talking about the documentary in the video below, and get a glimpse into the type of expert voices and opinions that will be featured:

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