What does it mean to be a female tech leader in Latin America’s show biz? I know, being a girl techie is hard everywhere, but being a Tech Director or Production Stage Manager and a girl in Mexico City and most of Latin America, has been quite the journey for me.
I am not butch, I love skirts and I love cleavage, I love pink, long nails and coloring my long hair… by definition for a lot of techs that meant, I was stupid and did not know what I am talking about.
Even my gay boss prefers to hear the opinion of my male coworker with at least 10 years less experience than me, than mine. I can do scheduling, be a great Company Manager, but when it comes to tech stuff I am invisible.
Why? Well Mexico as many other Latin countries is still very macho oriented…
This is a country where sadly for some regions a man has the right to hit a woman, a dad has the right to marry off his 13 year old daughter… and I could keep going. Not everywhere, not my case, not my dad, but it is still very real.
Male equals tough, hard, hands on, tools, rough…
Female soft, emotional, tender, crafts, cooks…
Sorry guys… I am all of the above.
So for a straight female techie in Mexico I had to be real tough and real , wait for it… compassionate.
I had to be a leader, not a boss, not a chief, not a director, but really talk to my techs… really talk to that big macho alpha-male telling me I knew nothing about carpentry because I am a girl (Sorry Mr. Rojas, I learned carpentry when I was 5 years old from my dad) … I had to really get in his shoes and understand he was not telling me “you are stupid” he was telling me “these are my beliefs, I grew up in a family and culture where carpentry is male”.
When I was the Technical Director for the repertoire theatre in Mexico called, Centro Cultural, I remember the techs saying they knew I was coming because they could hear my heels sound all over the backstage area… It made me feel so “Devil wears Stagecraft black Prada”.
But it was true…
Hell when I got my first professional stage manager job as the ASM for Beauty and the Beast, the Technical Director (an amazing woman called Adriana Beatty) dared me to go to the top of the flyhouse wearing my heels, and so I did.
I have realized that instead of becoming the victim, oh poor me I am a woman and I have to work twice as hard as a guy to get recognition, I put my rough and soft sides to use. So as TD and/or the PSM my techs know that I am someone they can come to talk to, they know they will be listened to, understood (or at least try to) and when needed, be disciplined.
And let me tell you something else, it has helped me a lot to learn (mostly the hard way)…. that being a b”·$tch is never the answer. When I stopped putting on this front of “I am your boss, I have the last word” and really said “sorry I do not know that” and learn from them that is when I started growing and really earning respect.
Not everyone likes me, I am not friends with everyone… but I sleep real good at night, knowing I am a hell of a good TD and a PSM. I really am, and I am still willing to learn and grow, as many of us still are.
So if you are a girl, and you want to be a carpenter, a light op, a sound tech, a TD, a rigger… Go for it! Just never approach the job as a man, cause you are not one…
Biologically speaking we are very different, so use those differences to make the best possible theatre techie you can be!