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AIS Honors 13 Leading Women in Tech and Names 10 Winners of Its 2018 Technology Awards

In a validation of the goals of #MeToo and #TimesUp, and with rhetoric demonstrating how far those movements still have to go, the 13 women who won the Advanced Imaging Society’s Distinguished Leadership Award made impassioned pleas for the inclusion of more women in science, technology, engineering and math.

The women were honored in a combined ceremony on Tuesday at the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills, which also recognized 10 companies with AIS’ 2018 Technology Awards. Variety was a media sponsor.

“We all know where we are at this point,” said recipient Victoria Alonso, EVP, physical production at Marvel Studios, alluding to the difficulty women have as they try to advance in tech careers. “If you can’t get through the front door there’s always a window or a skylight. So get in and make some noise!”

Annie Chang, VP, creative technologies at Universal Studios, recalled that she was the only woman at many of the companies where she’s worked, and “there are still so few women, so there a lot more work to do.”

“When I saw they were honoring 13 women, I thought, hey, there’s only 13 women in this whole field,” joked fellow recipient JoAnne Kim, a director of post-production technology at Legendary Entertainment.

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In a sense, it wasn’t just women who were being honored, it was also the expanding and essential role of technology in the entertainment space. Honoree Cindy McKenzie, chief information officer at Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, pointed out that when she first started working at Sony Pictures earlier in her career “technology was considered a necessary evil… Now it’s a necessity, end to end, throughout the entertainment industry.”

The other women honored at the event were: Vicky Colf, CTO, Warner Bros. Entertainment; Ashley Crowder, CEO, co-founder, Vntana; Poppy Crum, chief scientist, Dolby Laboratories; Karen Dufilho, exec producer, Google Spotlight Stories; Marcie Jastrow, SVP immersive media, head of the Technicolor Experience Center; Esther Pearl, founder and executive director, Camp Reel Stories; Nanea Reeves, CEO, co-founder, TRIPP Inc.; Kathleen Schroeter, head of marketing, video and wireless, Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz; and Bettina Sherick, SVP, consumer insights and innovation, 20th Century Fox.

The 10 companies presented with an AIS Lumiere statuette, recognizing their innovation and impact in advancing the creation or delivery of content: 3D Live, 8i, Boris FX, Dashwood Cinema Solutions, Dolby, Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, HaptX, Lytro, Microsoft and Tiledmedia.

AIS’s 10 Technology Awards honorees and the 13 women receiving the Distinguished Leadership Award “represent the most creative, productive and forward-thinking efforts in visual technology and emerging content,” said AIS president and CEO Jim Chabin. “The AIS has a mission to unite as well as celebrate the people and companies that are moving the entertainment technology business forward.”

With regard to the advancement of women’s careers in technology – and their status throughout the entertainment industry – the optimism in the room was tempered by the knowledge that the battle for gender parity is far from over. Wondered Camp Reel Stories’ Esther Pearl: “Is this a real tipping point, or will it be back to business as usual?”

Maybe the answer will become more clear by next year’s event.

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