A post by Megan Dragony
Better by Design organisation Women Onto Work (WoW) advocates that employability is an issue that is affected by and influences countless other aspects of a woman’s life. Because of this, it has adopted a holistic, gender specific employability programme. It was important for WoW to understand the complexity of these issues and how they influence the lives of individual women so that they could ensure the effectiveness of their programmes. It also wanted to illustrate these issues in a compelling way to funders and other decision makers. These aims could be best achieved through video ethnography.
WOW identified three individual participants at various stages of their journey with the programme. Initially we conducted a series of semi-structured filmed videos to establish a baseline of the current issues each woman was facing. We will be following up with them in the coming weeks to visit them in their homes or jobs in an effort to capture a holistic picture of their life.
We also filmed a cohort of women as they made their final presentations after completing a four-week personal development course with WOW. As part of the event, we asked the women to create a visual representation of where they were four weeks ago and to reflect on the progress they had made. The activity provided great stimulus for candid yet very compelling discussions that highlighted many key issues around women’s employability. Using a relatively compact digital camera we were able to remain relatively inconspicuous, making the participants more comfortable.
Screening the footage from the interviews with the staff sparked some very useful discussions about the programme from recruitment processes to communication strategies, and generated some new ideas for development. In terms of the final outputs, we hope to create a film that accurately reflects the unique challenges women face in terms of employment, as well as the positive transformation women undergo during WOW’s programmes. As I said at the beginning, this is a process that takes time and we will continue to be guided by insights and discoveries along the way.