Full Sail University grads and Hall of Fame inductees Kim Alpert, Laurie Brugger, and Michelle Sabolchick Pettinato conducted the panel “This is not a panel about women in the entertainment industry,” moderated by Robin Koman. The panel focused on their career trajectories, questions from the audience, wage gap, dealing with anxiety, and being assertive.
Laurie Brugger, 2011 HOF inductee and rigger for movies like Harry Potter and Where the Wild Things Are, talked about what brought her to Full Sail and how that decision conflicted with her family’s history. Her grandmother was the first woman in her family to attend college, something Brugger’s father was very proud of. This was in contrast to Brugger’s decision to attend Full Sail on a two-year program and not the typical four-year program degree. “I just wanted to throw the topic of women in there,” said Brugger finally.
All three panelists quickly agreed that they have not faced any significant discrimination in their workplaces, other than comments that have become commonplace due to the lack of female presence in their positions. Alpert says she is usually mistaken for a creative director, instead of a programmer, and Sabolchick says people expect her to be to the production assistant or a “band member’s girlfriend” instead of the sound engineer. Brugger believes this is because women usually go for “the supporting roles,” such as production positions.
Alpert, however, quickly pointed out that even though they haven’t felt this direct discrimination, that doesn’t mean that inequalities in the workplace don’t exist. She acknowledged the wage gap that exists between men and women while urging women in the audience to discuss these issues with employers and to join a freelancer’s guild if you are an independent freelancer.
“Ask HR if the men are being paid the same.” – Kim Alpert, Director of Creative Technology for DCI-Artform.
Some people in the audience also voiced their concerns about being “too feminine” in the workplace, or being the target of derogatory terms for being assertive. Sabolchick encouraged the audience to brush off negative comments and to just do “what you think is right” while being professional. Alpert warned about the consequences of the message you send with your attire and dressing “too sexual,” whether man or woman, while also arguing, “don’t act, just be yourself.”
“I would try to be less feminine, but then I realized I didn’t have to. The band members were wearing more nail polish and makeup than me.” –Michelle Sabolchick Pettinato, Live Sound Engineer.
Watch the entire recorded panel archive.
Written By: Alejandro Montaño