One of Kathy Kennedy’s first jobs in film was as a camera operator at a local San Diego TV station. Years later, she found out that the reason she was hired was that the station was required to hire a woman for the role as part of a lawsuit.
Today, Kennedy is president of Lucasfilm, producer of the next installment in the Star Wars series, The Force Awakens. Still, she believes the challenges for women have remained much the same since the late 1970s. “I don’t think things have changed much for women for jobs in the entertainment industry, especially in technical roles,” she said. Kennedy added that at a recent Saturday Night Live taping she attended, she saw no women operating the cameras.
Kennedy, who spoke at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit on Tuesday, has spent a lifetime being the only woman in a largely male-dominated club in the entertainment industry. Even at an early age, Kennedy was playing with the boys: she was the only girl on her high school’s football team. She played quarterback.
“People in powerful positions are not trying hard enough [to bring women into the industry] and there are an alarming number of women who are not able to get those jobs,” she explained.
One exception to that rule is the Walt Disney Company (DIS), which has been focusing on helping its female executives grow. It also helps that the company bought the Lucasfilm—half of its executive team is made up of women—in 2012.
The kicker? Two-thirds of the executive story team on the upcoming Star Wars movie is female. “I’m confident we will eventually hire a woman who directs a Stars Wars movie,” Kennedy added.
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