A look back, a look forward

Women's Impact Report 2012

Why is it that in 2012, we still need a Women’s Impact list? Women were given the right to vote in 1920 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed gender discrimination in the workplace. Surely by now we’ve managed to assimilate ourselves in the once male-dominant culture.

But while equality theoretically happened decades ago, there are still countless examples of gender bias. It took until August of this year for famed golf club Augusta National to invite two women into their membership ranks. In Hollywood, some areas are still woefully underrepresented (the cinematographers’ guild has only 3.4% female membership, for example, vs. the costume designers guild with 83% women members).

Let’s hope the day will come soon that there is true equality for men and women in all walks of life, but, frankly, it hasn’t happened yet. So we at Variety are taking this annual opportunity, as we have since 1998, to highlight the women who continue to influence Hollywood and the world.

For the first time ever, the issue has been conceived, edited, written, designed, photographed, illustrated, promoted and sold predominantly by the women of Variety . To paraphrase the old advertising slogan, the newsrooms of America have come a long way, baby.

In 1992, when we both started at Daily Variety , there were no female editors in our L.A. newsroom, and one female exec on the sales side. Today, 20 years later, four women sit atop the masthead on the editorial side — including Paula Taylor, who designed this issue — and six on the business side. Of the 19 names on the Variety masthead, 10 are women.

The femmes atop the Variety masthead, standing from left, Natalie Longman (production director), Paula Taylor (creative director), Donna Pennestri (sales director), Cynthia Littleton (deputy editor), Carole Horst (deputy editor), Kirstin Wilder (VP, managing editor). Seated from left, Dawn Allen (sales director), Michelle Sobrino-Stearns (VP, associate publisher), Linda Buckley-Bruno (publishing director) and Kimberley Hume (marketing director). Not pictured is Millie Chiavelli (managing director, East Coast).

Showbiz tells a similar tale of working to find a balance and you can read about the challenges women faced back in the 1970s and ’80s in Paula Bernstein’s piece.

Some fields — animation and TV showrunners — are hitting the mark with women rising through the ranks and taking on the top leadership roles. Cynthia Littleton and Karen Idelson, respectively, write about those career tracks.

Our Impact List highlights women who have had a particularly game-changing year in their spheres including a Pulitzer Prize winner, ground-breaking TV executives, marketing gurus and one helmer who has literally redefined what it means to be a woman in the 21st century, Lana Wachowski (“Cloud Atlas”).

Our list is merely a snapshot of some of the amazing women working in the entertainment industry today, we aimed to include femmes from different disciplines and while there were dozens more more we could have included, we chose to focus this year on those who influenced the industry by thinking outside of the box. The question we asked for every honoree was, “was this person just doing their job?” or “did she do something extraordinary outside of her normal responsibilities?”

We invite both men and women to sit back, pour a glass of champers and enjoy our 2012 Women’s Impact Report.