Ahead of International Women’s Day, Friday 8th March, Lily Brimble of Richmond Event Management tells us all about what it’s like to be a female in the events industry.
There seems to be a stereotype related to women in the events industry that needs to be broken. Not all women want to be wedding planners. I commend the work wedding planners do and the endless hours they put in to ensure they deliver the client’s perfect day but it’s not quite what I do, nor what I want to do.
During my time studying Business Management and Marketing at University, I secured an internship with Richmond Event Management (REM), which then became a permanent position in 2015 – I guess you could say that I fell into the industry. That summer I met some amazing people and learnt so much from experienced individuals. I quickly found out that it takes certain personality traits to work in events and saw some of those traits in myself – mainly being totally obsessed with spreadsheets and planning!
I remember being fairly new to REM, we were on an event site and I’d met our contractors a few times, but I doubt they remembered me. I oversaw a small element of the event and I remember chatting to the sound engineer, he was asking me if I was enjoying my new job and I’d said I was finding it challenging, I didn’t feel like people took me seriously because I was young and female. He told me that I’d never be a ‘gig girl’ and that really got to me… now I look back and think what even is a ‘gig girl!?’ Five years later and I still haven’t figured it out.
Comments from crew bosses such as ‘’Where’s your Gaffer?’’ when I was the site manager used to really get to me, now with a little more confidence and experience I’m more than happy to say, ‘ITS ME!’.
As a result of these interactions I decided I needed to learn from the bottom up; I shadowed my senior colleagues, watched and learned from contractors, I asked so many questions (probably too many!), and I even taught myself CAD! I just wanted to be able to do everything.
Looking back, I think I thought I had to be extraordinary at everything to do with an event – which I know now is unrealistic. I have a great team around me with a wealth of experience… but I’m still more than happy to get my hands dirty and get involved where I’m needed.
Over the last five years I’ve worked on some incredibly iconic large scale events such as the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Bristol Harbour Festival and Torbay Airshow.
I have found being a woman in the events industry challenging at times. There have been moments where I’ve felt like I need to ‘prove’ myself, as well as times when I’ve had to work twice as hard to earn any form of respect or acknowledgement. However, I also feel a great sense of pride and passion being a woman in the events industry.
Although statistically there are now more women who work in the industry, there are sectors that remain male dominated; production and executive roles being the most prominent. Board rooms, trade shows and panel talks are still male dominated but I do think this is slowly changing and that’s a huge step forward.
The Balloon Fiesta production team is predominantly female, it’s a fantastic mix of highly experienced female event professionals as well as aspiring young women and I find them incredibly inspiring.
Every year we have a summer intern here at REM – historically these have been mostly girls. If I can show one girl per year that it’s well within their reach to become successful if they persevere, then I feel I have done enough.