What do we mean when we say, "Pioneer"?

Pioneers in Skirts® is a story about a journey to understand why many women face an unfair battle to achieve their ambitions. We spent 4 years filming character-driven stories of people confronting and working to resolve this issue. Each is a pioneer for change.

A Pioneer — at its core, is a woman who owns her success by challenging the barriers she encounters along her career path, paves her own way, and leads the way for the next generation.

A Pioneer is an employer and elected official who is challenging outdated policy and law. And people who stand in solidarity with women and girls at the intersections of marginalized identities—from K-12 through career.

Why “Skirts”?

During a pre-production research session, my mother agreed to have the camera’s turned on her. The conversation got a little heated when she was frustrated with how to help me ‘fix’ the situation I had been experiencing.

She said, “You had the best education, you have tremendous experience — and still people treat you like you don’t deserve the job!”

When she talked about the frustration of me having to change my appearance just so that I would be respected on set, it occurred to me — why can’t I be feminine as well as the person in charge? Why can’t I wear a skirt if I want to?

Here’s a clip from that day —
(a deleted scene)

Black and White Photo of People Breaking Ground

That day brought back a memory I had from when I was in grad school. While filming a documentary short, I toured the Business and Professional Women’s Club of North Carolina state headquarters. I was struck by the fact that the women in the picture seemed so determined.

I could see in their faces that they were not going to let their dresses and skirts prevent them from trudging through the woods with their shovels to break ground for a building that would be their sanctuary and place to organize.

These Pioneers fought and won many battles for the next generation —

Pioneers in Skirts honors them, and recognizes that without women like my Mom, and these pioneering women, women wouldn’t be where we are today.

The Next Wave

Today, there is a new Pioneer confronted by the fact that she is not immune.

She has taken up yesterday’s baton.

She’s learning the history of those who paved the way for her.

She’s finding and working with allies, and she’s developing new methods and collaborative approaches to confront the sexism and bias she encounters.

We know this is a film that feeds into today’s “next wave” of feminism, and we aim to support each and every Pioneer to grab their own shovel.

Let’s continue to break ground, together.

Ashley Maria

Pioneers in Skirts Movie Poster
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