“We’ve spent decades trying to fit women into a work world built for company men.”

Pioneers in Skirts is a character-driven documentary addressing how women & girls with pioneering ambitions combat bias and sexism in our culture.

Ashley grew up in a world where girls are taught to be powerful. They’re told, “If you dream it, you can be it,” and are encouraged to work towards those dreams. What happens when dreamers grow up?

a film needed now more than ever

Ashley grabbed her camera to share her story; revealing the career obstacles women face, what realistically can be done about them, and how we all can play a role in dramatically changing the outcome for the next generation.

Many women battle a bias that is eroding their ambition. Mountains of research (study after study…after study) reveal women start out their careers with more ambition than men, but as soon as 2 years out of college women’s confidence and ambition plummets by over 50%. This phenomenon affects women across professions and has experts guessing as to what to do. One of those studies:

In the film, Ashley explores topics like: unconscious bias, stereotype threat, unfair perceptions, the importance of a girl’s middle school years, work-life flexibility and much more.

“You can’t go to an underrepresented group and say, just fix yourself. Women aren’t broken.” Lucy Sanders, CEO National Center for Women & Information Technology.

Pioneers in Skirts is a film for

  • the individual who is pioneering her own path
  • parents who want their girls and boys to grow up in an inclusive and welcoming world
  • the women and men who want to know how they can make a difference.


Who’s in the film?

With their participation in the film we see how women and men can instigate change for today’s, and the next generation of, pioneering women.

Those Helping Us Tell The Film Industry Story: Joan Darling; Norman Lear; Ashley Maria; Asha Dahya; Brea Grant; Jess Blaise; Jenn Duong; Bridget Stokes; and Mindy Bledsoe

Those Helping Us Tell The “Girl’s Who Dream Big” Story: Charlotte Robotics Executive Director, Lia Schwinghammer; the girls — Maddy, Iman and Sophia; and their dads — Jake, D.I., Jerry.

Professionals With Experiences To Share: UNC Chapel Hill’s Women’s Basketball Coach, Sylvia Hatchell; Focus Brands Group President, Kat Cole; Moz CEO, Sarah Bird; Major General Heidi V. Brown; Senior VP Advanced Auto Parts, Nicole Jefferies; Exec VP SAS, Jenn Mann; Jane Park, CEO Julep; Michelle Goldberg, VC at Ignition Partners; Emily Rollins, Partner at Deloitte & Touche; Liz Pearce, CEO; and new mom Lily Durbin.

Experts Who Educate Us: NCWIT Co-Founders Lucy Sanders and Brad Feld; AAUW researchers Andresse St. Rose and Catherine Hill; NWHM President Joan Wages; and leadership psychologist Dr. Hope Hills.

Follow our journey as we make Pioneers in Skirts!