Mary Margaret is one of my best friends. We met around the year 2002. We were both working at sort of a ridiculous place in the television world… which could actually be anywhere in the television world.
That was good though, because T.V. production calls for long days and lots of downtime which leads to plenty of time to hang out, deal with and discuss some of the most ridiculous people and situations you’d ever encounter in a “professional” environment. Television and the production world is like that. It’s very serious, there is a lot money being invested and the time and effort to produce content is very demanding. You need to be a pro and to have pride in what you do… but to keep your sanity, you need to have a good sense of humour and realize, for the most part, you’re not saving humanity, you’re making TV. Mary knows this. She’s one of the funniest people I know. But she’s also one of the most professional.
Currently Mary works for CBC News on the french side of things as a videographer. She’s got skills. She’s not just someone who stands in the studio lazily pointing a camera that’s been set up and maintained for you (I should know, I did this at the Shopping Channel). Mary works in the field. She takes her reporter and goes and gets the visuals, then edits them together to tell the story.
The job is not easy. It’s physically demanding. It’s technically demanding. It’s creatively demanding. You could definitely get routine about it if you let yourself, but Mary wants to be awesome at what she does, so she sets out to prove herself every time she covers a story.
Television production is still a very male dominated field. I’ve personally seen and heard some of the things guys will say to Mary and other women who work in the production field. It’s dumb. Sometimes shocking. And sometimes I’m pretty sure, against the law. Mary has had to deal with all of it. I did my best to address that and hear how she deals with that side of the business in the questions below, so let’s get to it!
Q. How do you define success?
Setting goals for myself and seeing those goals come to fruition.
This can be applied to anything in my life. Whether it’s learning a new skill or being afraid to do something because I’m not sure how to do it, but forcing myself to do it anyway. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way I wanted but I try to learn from those experiences and apply them to “next time”.
I used to be really scared of failure and I think that fear drove me. Success for me does not just mean a career. It means being a good mother, wife and friend. Because at the end of the day those are the relationships that truly matter.
Q. You work in a very male dominated field. A lot of times, women who do find success in a physically and technically challenging field, they get labelled one of 2 ways… Either as a “bitch” because, for some minds, that’s easier than saying “a professional”, or as someone who was given the job simply because she is a girl. Both labels ignore the fact that you earned your position by being the person most qualified, and more simply because you are good at what you do. What advice would you give to young, talented and qualified women trying to break in, stay strong and succeed in a male dominated field?
I would have to say that I have experienced some pretty crappy attitudes from men AND women while trying to build my career and it continues to some degree to this day.
I was initially told “TV isn’t about putting on make-up”, “the equipment is too heavy for you” and “we hired a girl once and she didn’t work out so we don’t like to hire them”.
It hurt and created horrible doubt but I kept telling myself this is what I really wanted so who were they to tell me otherwise. Sometimes people discourage others because they feel threatened, so learn to recognize those negative influences and move on.
My advice to any woman who wants a career whatever it may be is to NEVER GIVE UP. Prove them wrong. Learn whatever you can in your free time. Bug co-workers to teach you what they know. Know your worth and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. At times I stood my ground and it ended up working against me but I would rather be known as a “bitch” than let people take advantage.
I think its extremely important for girls and young women to know there is no limit to what they can do but I also think this starts with our sons. They need to be taught that girls are just as smart, strong and capable.
Mary is pretty cool! She’s also the mother of 2 awesome kids and married to a guy that has an equally, let’s say “creative” sense of humour. He doesn’t work in television, but he could so easily fit right in. I think those would have been some good times. Mary is also an awesome photographer. You can check out some of her work at www.LigamentDesign.com