International Women's Day seems to have ignited conversation and action about gender politics in an unprecedented way this year. This week, people around the world people have been demanding gender equality and taking steps towards achieving it.
Spain's advertising production community is fighting in this battle too. To commemorate IWD, Women in Advertising Production (WAP)
is marking the day with its first Spanish meet-up at the Serena post production house in Madrid and Glassworks in Barcelona, with a live link up to the London event which is being held at The Mill.
Founded in 2012 in the UK by senior producer Jess aan de Wiel, the group serves a multitude of purposes for the women of the industry. “I wanted to find a space for just women to get together, share experiences and help one another,” Jess says on her original motivations. “It was never about ‘man hating’. It’s always been very much ‘women loving’. I also wanted to find a way to meet and connect with more of my female peers in my industry.”
Since then it’s achieved that and much more. The UK Facebook group has become an invaluable tool for the community. Whether you’re looking for service companies in Mexico or a kids casting director in Paris, members can rely on the hive mind to help them out.
Jess is also proud of the working partnerships and friendships that have been forged. “People have even found places to live from fellow WAPers,” she says. “I am always hearing stories of happy unions and coincidences, people who have lost contact bumping into old faces! People who have spoken to each other over the phone for years have finally met in person at the networking events. I am always getting huge ‘thank you’s’ from people who love the group and how it’s helped them.”
Naturally, Jess has considered spreading this model around the world, so when Kate Jenner and Elena Vida approached her about bringing it to Spain she jumped at the idea. Both had experienced the benefits of WAP working in the UK and had recently moved to Spain. Kate is English, and after five years working in production in Spain now runs Little Black Book there. Elena is Spanish and had recently returned to live in Barcelona, after approximately the same amount of time working in production in London. Freelance Production Consultant Lise Francis also bridges the gap between the UK and Spain - she has been a member of WAP since day one, and is now based in southern Spain.
With this team assembled, things started moving quickly. The Spanish community recognised its value immediately. Two months on the Facebook group already has 1,000 members. “People are starting to share stories and use the platform daily,” says Kate. The inaugural event will take place on March 8th in Madrid at post production house Serena and in Barcelona at Glassworks with a live link up to London which is being held at the Mill, coinciding with International Women’s Day.
Lise is keen to meet this newly gathered community in the flesh. “It’s exciting to have WAP España as it’s a real opportunity to hear the challenges that women face here in Spain,” she says. “Also, like Kate, I can share my years of experience from both the agency and production company side in the UK”.
Worldwide, the major priorities for the group are working towards equal pay for women in all departments, supporting working mothers (and fathers). WAP also wants to see more women in senior management roles and in tech-driven and coding rolls as well, says Jess. “And an all female electrical department would be EPIC!,” she adds. “I am also passionate about helping the next generation come up through the ranks. I love our networking events where we have die-hard industry doyennes and young keen whippersnappers all in the same room!”
Kate speaks more specifically about the focus of WAP Spain: “Our aim is to build a positive and supportive network for women working in all areas of advertising production. A safe space for women to ask questions and request recommendations from other women and a way to get to know other women in the industry through events and working groups. And we hope, with time, that the network will help provide solutions to some of the industry issues, those that are difficult to confront, some of those related to being working women and mums, as well as more general industry issues.”
Kate’s proud of the female role-models smashing it in the Spanish industry, but while they’re numerous it’s still not enough. “In our opinion there is a universal need to have more women working in all areas of production in Spain,” she says. “Especially to find ways for working mums to return to work in production in an industry that worldwide doesn’t currently respect either evenings or weekends.”
One story illustrates the issues WAP is facing in the Spanish industry: “Not so long ago a girl applying for a job in PR in Spain received an email from a recruitment company suggesting that her application would go no further because they needed a man! The story made it into the international press,” says Kate. “Among other things we want to look for ways to change this type of behaviour in our industry. But we are firmly about changing the future and not about complaining about the past. Women can carry cameras, can drive cars, and can direct. Women can do everything that men can do, and sometimes they can do it even better! We aren’t men hating at WAP, just women loving.”