This week we’ll be heading to New Orleans for the Association of Moving Image Archivists' [www.amianet.org] annual conference. Joining me are Biz Gallo, Manager of Audiovisual Preservation, Sarah Mainville, Registrar, and Nora Egloff, Data Storage Manager. We have two special things to look forward to at the conference. Biz will be giving her first professional presentation since joining our staff and at Thursday morning’s plenary I will present the first George Blood LP Women in Audiovisual Archiving and Technology Scholarship.
At the opening reception of AMIA 2016 Carla Arton approached me about sponsoring an AMIA scholarship. Knowing the companies that already sponsor a scholarship (Sony Pictures, Rick Chace Foundation, Universal Studios), I was honored to be considered in their company. Bob Heiber happened upon the conversation; when he learned that Carla and I were discussing the idea he was very supportive. He told them how honored he’d been to offer the scholarships through the Rick Chace Foundation, how he’d enjoyed getting to know the students, and watching their careers develop. Other than being a highly respected and generous member of the moving image community, Bob is also an all-around great guy and has given me much advice and warmth over the years. He strongly encouraged me to consider funding the scholarship.
Carla and I continued to discuss the scholarship over the next few days of the conference. One of the sessions was about Women in Tech, a panel and moderated discussion. With four sisters and four daughters, and having worked with and employed many women over 35 years, I have had a front row seat on the struggles women face, especially in professional settings. I attended the session to get a feel for the discussion, and thought I might learn something I could share with the women in my life.
At one point a woman mentioned that there were men in the room. She said she felt it was impacting the discussion, and what women felt comfortable to say. Kara Van Malssen, one of the panelists/moderators responded that she, too, felt the presence of the men and said it was affecting what she said. At the same time, she didn’t want the men to feel unwelcome, and was glad they had come to be part of the conversation.
I held up my hand and asked, “I have four sisters and four daughters. This is an issue that’s been very close to me for decades. It didn’t start with this conference. Help me to know what I’m to do. Men are the problem, preventing women from advancing. Yet we show up to the conversation and we make the women uncomfortable. How can we get past talking about the problem? What can I, what can men, DO?”
Kara reiterated that on balance, despite some discomfort, she was glad men had come to the session. As to what we could do, “you can listen.”
In offering this scholarship, I say, “Well, Kara, I’d like you to know that I have listened, and sponsoring this scholarship is my way of saying you (plural) have been heard.”
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Teague Schneiter for helping me craft the official wording of the scholarship and the announcement.
Please welcome Biz, Sarah, and Nora at their first AMIA, and join us for the scholarship presentation Thursday morning!