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Female Photo Leaders Participate in Call to Action

Many women tend to multitask. In true multitask form, women of the world took a break from the PMA trade show floor, busy break-out sessions and their families to recognize both International Women’s Day and empower themselves as businesswomen at Thursday’s “Women in Imaging Rountable” midday business session.

“This is the global day that inspires women around the world,” said Fran Herman, owner of and session moderator of the one-hour chat with female leaders in the photo retailer business.

Clearly not a “men-bashing” session, female leaders shared tricks, swapped stories and empowered one another to get involved.

Speakers Liz Cutting of the NPD Group, Laura Oles of and Jessica Sarber of Sarber’s Camera, set out to empower women through their own experiences.

Cutting was candid about her experiences early in her career in the male-dominated automobile industry and then in the male-dominated photo industry.

“It was never about gender [for me]. It was about having fun, having power,” she said. While working in Tokyo she realized that the women were “put into place but didn’t let that get to them.”

While there are more women than ever in the industry breaking stereotypes of every kind, the women agreed that there is still a way to go. Often skepticism comes from the customers who are not used to a women store owner or technical maverick.

Myths often perpetuated when women get together at a forum such as this, were quickly debunked by the speakers. “This is not about men-bashing,” said Sarber. “It’s just great to speak authentically…Women tend to [want to] gather, talk and share.” She also debunked that all women in the industry are “Stepford wives” and said, “We are not all Jennifers.” What women are, she said, are great “adaptors” and “multitasking workhorses.”

She added that a forum of this manner, where 40 females were separated into four circles across the room, was inspiring and much needed in the industry. “There are all kinds of women in this room of a diverse mix of cultures and stages in our lives” and we can learn from each other, she said.

Oles, who wrote the book “Digital Photography for Busy Women,” said that female photo leaders often take it for granted that not all women are in the business. “We should try to meet all the needs of these women and help them to juggle their lives,” she said.

Oles, who publishes two monthly newsletters, asked women who are looking for a place to network to visit