Tips to Empower Female Writers in The Business

Jennifer Davidson


1. Women don’t have to be exceptional

We’ll have true equality when it’s deemed acceptable for women to be as mediocre as the average man. A lot of men who get their projects commissioned are not exceptional.

It puts extreme pressure on us as women if we feel like every idea that we pitch has to be exceptional. That approach will impact upon the ideas we come up with.

2. You don’t have to be more like a man to succeed

To succeed, lean into your strengths and skillsets. Maybe that includes being particularly sensitive. Embrace that part of yourself rather than trying to fight against it.

3. Feeling vulnerable is an important quality as a writer

We can feel quite isolated dealing with emotional subject matter. You have to go to an emotional place to connect with your characters. Use your own emotional vulnerability as a strength.

4. “Fake it ‘til you make it” is not always a helpful concept

If you’re in the writers’ room or you’re working with a publisher, you’re not faking it. You got there. You’re in that seat because you’ve got a talent. You don’t need to fake anything.

5. Ask for more money

Women always price ourselves lower. Ask for more than you think you deserve, because chances are you’re worth more than you think you deserve. The worst you’ll get is a, “no”. If you do get the amount you’ve asked for, don’t be thinking you need to do extra work. You’ve already proved yourself. There’s a good reason you’re being paid that much.

Your request for more money is not you saying, “Give me more money and I’ll do more work”. Your request is for the task that’s on the table. Anything extra is a different negotiation.

Think about your cash flow. How much money do you want to bring in each month for the next three months. Set yourself a target of how much you want to earn every month and use that to adjust the rates you ask for. That will help you feel much more in control when you’re actively thinking about those numbers.

Act as if you’re negotiating on behalf of someone else. Say your rate and leave a silence. You’re not flexible and you don’t have to explain.

6. Never do a job for free

You’ve put years into your creativity and craft. Don’t underestimate that.

7. Talk numbers, talk money

The more we talk about money among ourselves, the more aware we are of what the standard price is. This gives us power.

8. Have your “assistant” chase payment

Culturally, there can be a shame around money. Make up an accountant or an assistant. Use a dummy email if that helps you have those difficult conversations or say things that you don’t feel comfortable saying.

9. Put yourself forward for more opportunities

Men have a much easier time with this because the system has taught them to ask for what they want, while women have been taught to people-please.

10. Networking is just about connecting with people

You don’t have to be as brash as a lot of men at networking events.
As a writer, you’re a good judge of character. You’ll know who you can trust really quickly. Focus on making connections.

11. We’re not here to teach men about feminism

A lot of men consider themselves to be feminist, however, often they behave in ways that are not feminist and they’re oblivious to it because they’re just being themselves in the room. The patriarchal system has taught them that that’s OK. If you don’t feel comfortable as an individual pointing that out to them, don’t feel under pressure to point it out. It’s not your job.