Pioneers in Skirts to Screen at SXSW EDU

Pioneers in Skirts to Screen at the Acclaimed SXSW EDU Conference and Festival

The daughter-mother filmmaking team will attend with their special guests from North Carolina’s Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy.

Los Angeles, CA, Release: February 8, 2023. For Immediate Release

A movie about ambition, Pioneers in Skirts is one of just three films invited to screen under the Accessibility & Inclusion track at the SXSW EDU® Conference being held March 6-9, 2023 in Austin, Texas.

SXSW EDU is a reflection of the world’s most critical social issues as seen through the lens of education. This year’s event will bring together the learner, the practitioner, the entrepreneur, and the visionary to share their groundbreaking stories, tackle complex issues, and build re-imagined paths forward.

On Wednesday March 8th, the festival will screen the documentary “Pioneers in Skirts: A Movie About Ambition.” The screening will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and their invited guests.

“We are honored to be joined on stage by two highly experienced Educators for a post-screening conversation about how to use the power of this film to positively interact with and influence students,” shared Director Ashley Maria. “We’re also extremely excited the festival gave us the March 8th slot — which is International Women’s Day!”

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. #EmbraceEquity

The Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy (WYWLA) Educators, Sharon Cuffee and Frank Reed, will share their experiences of how the film helped their students self-reflect about their own lives, careers, and how they feel about the topics in the film.

WYWLA, located in Raleigh, North Carolina, has hosted two movie screenings in front of students, one via a LIVE Zoom event and another in a school venue. “Pioneers in Skirts proved to have a long-term impact at the school and with teachers,” described Producer Lea-Ann W. Berst. “Even though this is why we made the film, it’s always humbling to hear how it becomes a catalyst for meaningful conversations about awareness and opportunities.”


In a portrait of perseverance and determination, the Pioneers in Skirts filmmakers, Ashley Maria and Lea-Ann W. Berst, follow the journeys of 3 unforgettable girls on a robotics team, their fathers, and Lily, a woman fearful her pregnancy news will fault her raise negotiations. The film uses Ashley’s own story as a female director in Hollywood as the through line while also featuring fellow pioneering women and topic experts who have solutions to share.


As a community of diverse people who are united around a like-minded vision for the future, SXSW EDU serves as a place for attendees to renew their purpose in practice from both a personal and professional perspective. It is a place to reinforce the core principles of teaching and learning as well as an opportunity to express your creativity and passion for education. SXSW EDU is a component of the South by Southwest® family of conferences and festivals that has grown from 800 to over 8,000 registrants in the last decade. Join the passionate and innovative community at SXSW EDU, March 6-9, 2023.

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