PIFF 2021: Pioneers In Skirts – Review

Release Date – TBC, Cert – N/A, Run-time – 1 hour, Director – Ashley Maria

Documentary looking at the gap towards gender equality in different industries, and what can be, and has been, done to help close it.

Director Ashley Maria’s Pioneers In Skirts is a film that spends no time wasted, getting straight to the facts. Instantly telling the viewer that women’s ambition to reach the top in multiple industries plummets from 43% to 16% in just two years. Constantly not given the opportunity to progress and make their way to something bigger there’s a real passion and drive to Maria’s film – “we all have a role to play in this illusion” she states. Having won a Student DGA in 2010 for her short film Friday Night Fright there are few additional directing credits to her name. In Pioneers In Skirts she sets out to look at the gender gap in terms of equality in a handful of different industries, primarily TV and film, and what can be done to give women more opportunities.

It’s a fight that has been going on for years, with its early fighters and pioneers brought to the fore early on in the film. TV director Joan Darling mentions “I’m in my 80s and I’m still struggling”, just the start of a developing fight that’s been brought more and more to the attention of the masses, however there’s still more to do. It’s made clear and the film itself is part of a personal fight for all those involved. A variety of people are interviewed and give their insights to the knockbacks they’ve experienced simply because of their gender. From veterans of the film industry to high-school girls competing in a tech event there’s a number of glimpses into different people trying to make advances in their respective world and industries and their ambition certainly leaves a mark on the viewer.


With so much happening and a number of interesting perspectives looked into it all seems to fit nicely into the short one hour run-time of the film. There’s no fighting for space amongst the various themes that are covered. There’s even time to show pride in advancements such as the female version of Ghostbusters and Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico in Star Wars – when either example appears on screen it feels like a punch the air moment simply because of the impact that they made, and also because of their general presence. It shows the effect that the film has, one with a positive outlook for change instead of dwelling on the negatives. This comes from the drive and determination of Maria, those she interviews and who also take part in table discussions with her. It’s a hopeful film and has an impact because of that, looking at the ground-up development that is being made, and that also needs to be made. Bringing you in early on with its facts and established points and keeping you in place through the hope that it provides and the personal passion that is emitted from the determined minds involved.

With passion and drive from all involved there’s a real sense of hope throughout Pioneers In Skirts as it works its way through various industries with its determined aim of finding ways to remove the gender equality gap.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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