Interview with Gina Tron by Cristina Rose
Did you ever meet a girl and think ” I want that job! How did she get there?” Some of the most fascinating women I know didn’t find their job by applying to a job on craigslist or monster.com. She got to where she is today because she was passionate enough about a certain cause or art form so much,that she went on her own and made her career. Paving your way is never easy, and I often wonder how women are able to leave the comforts of their office jobs to work for themselves. It takes overcoming fear (and yes, we are talking about that other F word again). There isn’t one lady I know who has overcome fear quite like Gina Tron, a freelance writer and author. She writes about her personal life experiences that are not necessarily positive stories, but they raise awareness about important topics like sexual harassment and high school bullying. Tron’s storytelling is raw, honest and authentic and I believe that is what sets her apart from her competition. Today, Tron writes for Vice magazine, LadyGunn magazine, and is currently writing a book that will be published this fall.
What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
In high school I wanted to be a writer, but I felt discouraged about it. I didn’t think I had what it took to be a writer. Instead, I went to school for film and focused on film and TV production for a while.
What was the first real job you had that you realized was the first step for your career? What did you do? Was writing just a hobby at the point?
I actually gave up on writing altogether after high school for a very long time. My first job in TV was at a station in Vermont. I started off doing teleprompting and using the camera sometimes. I moved up really quick and soon was a full time employee. I became a technical director and sometimes directed the 6 p.m. news. I was 23 years old. I was the only full-time female in production at the time.
What were the advantages or disadvantages of being a woman in a corporate environment? Did you ever feel like you hit a glass ceiling or work with others who did?
I definitely did. I feel like the reason I moved up so fast was because I was female. Everyone raved about how good I was. Then I rejected one of the guys sexually and next thing I know my work performance was suddenly perceived as poor. He said I wasn’t performing very well and it was not based on actual performance. When I tried to talk to a higher-up about it he dismissed my claims. I felt disrespected and once a few higher-up people treated me poorly, the part-time employees followed suite. One man, who was twice my age and a part-time employee, slapped my ass with a clipboard. I was politely asking him if he could switch from teleprompter to audio for the night because someone called in sick, and he responded by sexually harassing me. When I told him not to do it again he told me he wasn’t attracted to me, which was besides the point.
There was an opening for a director position and I applied. I fully heartedly believe that because I was a woman I didn’t get it. I worked hard and made less mistakes than male directors that had been there for years. I think they were threatened by me. Instead they hired a man from out of state, paid him more than twice my salary and had me train him. It was insulting. I had to work at a factory part-time among other gigs just to make ends meet.
When you decided to take writing more seriously, did you think it would eventually turn into a career? What was your job at this point?
I didn’t start writing again until around 2010. I was working at a TV station in Brooklyn and I had a realization that writing was my true calling. I didn’t think it would be a career, just a hobby. So I took a few unpaid writing jobs at blogs, worked hard and soon saw that it could potentially become a job for me. My biggest dream at the time was to get a short story published amongst other writers. I never thought I would be able to get real recognition as a writer.
When did you first realize that working for yourself may be a good idea, and was there a certain event that made you finally take the plunge?
I feel like when it comes to corporations or any job it’s hard to get your true voice out. You have to go through managers and bosses. When it comes to writing I can communicate what I really want to say directly to the public. I was sick of trying to please people who know less than me. I used to take harsh criticism that bosses told me to heart. I always want to improve and women are taught not to be cocky, so I assumed that their criticism was always valid. But some of it wasn’t. It was said to hold me down. Most people spend their whole life trying to impress people that are more flawed than them.
Do you feel that women who own their own businesses are faced with the same women-related issues as those in the corporate environment? If so, how do you overcome it?
I think that with owning your own business there is no glass ceiling but there is a whole new set of problems. Maybe advertisers or people you have to network with won’t take you seriously if you are a woman. Women have to ride a fine line between being attractive but not too attractive, self-sufficient but not bossy. If you think a woman in the workplace is being bossy, imagine her as a man. Would you think the same thing?
What advice do you have for those who want to freelance, or start their own business?
Take criticism with a grain of salt. Constructive criticism is great, but words spoken to hinder your career are not. Follow your intuition. Work hard. It can happen.