What’s a Pioneer?

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

Pioneers in Skirts® is a movie about a journey to understand why many women face an unfair battle to achieve their ambitions.

A Pioneer — at its core, is a woman who owns her success, paves her own way, and leads the way for the next generation.

A Pioneer can also be an employer or elected official who is challenging outdated policy and law, or someone who stands in solidarity with women & girls. Each is a #Pioneer4Change!

Why “Skirts”?

During a pre-production research session, my mother agreed to have the cameras 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 the video from that day —
(a deleted scene)

Until I started out in my career, I never really understood just how judged I would be for being a female in a career dominated by men, or if I wore the wrong clothes or had too much or not enough makeup on. I thought that it was all in the past. But I was wrong.

I walked into a room expecting to be accepted for who I was, and instead, I was pigeon-holed into a reaction that dictated how I acted, responded, and a wardrobe that I wasn’t necessarily excited about.

Black and White Photo of People Breaking Ground
Breaking Ground

That day talking with my mom also 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 where I saw this photo of women breaking ground on the building.

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 on a building that would become 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 definitely 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. Women and men continue to be her allies. They have taken up yesterday’s baton.

They’re learning the history of those who paved the way for them.

They’re developing new methods and collaborative approaches to confront the unfair systems and biases that women and girls encounter.

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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