Published on May 22nd, 2014 | by Elysabeth Galati
The Sphinx’s Gaze: What Is It Like Being A Girl In A Guys Industry?
The Sphinx’s Gaze
Column by Elysabeth Galati
In the day and age of cos play bloggers, harassment policies now being standard, and more women then ever in the workplace, I thought I would take a moment and let you know my experience of being female in an predominately male industry.
First of all, I am blessed with a natural “bitch” face. Not physically large, but the air I give off is intimidating to some. Once you get to know me for a second, I am as open a book as they come, but I think that gave me an edge.
I have petite female geek friends who have run into both male and female people assuming things they shouldn’t about them. I am also old enough that my entrance into the geek realm was before a more recent twist towards equality. My younger friends in the geek realm rage when they aren’t treat as equals. I went into it all with the attitude that women and men AREN’T equal. And that’s OK… both genders have their strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. If you can be OK with different character classes.. why in the world would you worry about genders being equal.
I started working for Diamond Comic Distributors in my teens. When I left in my mid twenties and went to work for a CCG company and then an RPG company. My firm Sphinx Group straddles all worlds of pop culture and I opened it’s doors in 2000. I have had my fingers in the world of comics and gaming for decades and have branched out to toys, horror and many others.
I have no horror stories from any of the pop culture worlds that I have been in simply because I have understood from day one what the most important thing is in our culture; knowledge is street cred. Know enough to show you aren’t kidding that you really are a fan of something. Know what you don’t know and don’t try to pretend anything otherwise.
The one female boss I had at Diamond gave me one piece of advice “Never let them see you sweat.” But how many showdowns had I already seen? I had seen how many action movies, read how much sci-fi, collected how many comics by that point. Confidence means you are hero. Whether I was a girl in a guys industry or not, I made the choice to ALWAYS be the hero.
I really only have had a handful of gender based experiences. Favorite worst pick up line actually used on me, “I have a Princess Leia Costume in my hotel room that’s just your size!”. Favorite underestimation from a stranger started when I was working a booth at a gaming show and someone asked who I was married to. That I couldn’t be there for any other reason. I ran the marketing arm for the entire company who’s booth I was attending the show for mind you. I do remember the show where I scared a guy out of a booth as he simply wasn’t comfortable talking to a girl. The majority of my gender based experiences in the geek world have been great but I do think that’s because I focus more on being awesome then being female.
I’ve never once worried for my safety. I have always had both men and women in the industry I could go to for advice. Who needs a glass ceiling to focus on when the stars are what I choose to look at?