Life

This Disney Pixar film nails what it’s like to be the only woman in the office

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
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Disney Pixar's Purl

Women all over Twitter are obsessed with Purl – and for good reason.

“Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman.”

So sang Tammy Wynette, and she certainly had a point. However, while “giving all your love to just one man” can certainly be draining, things are even trickier for women who work in male-dominated occupations.

Studies have repeatedly shown that gender stereotyping and discrimination in the workplace leads to women feeling undervalued and under-utilised, which can drive them out and convince them they need to forge a new career elsewhere. And, for women wanting to hold their own, they often feel as if they must decide whether to try to “act like one of the guys” to fit in, or lean into their feminine strengths.

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It is a dilemma that Kristen Lester, the writer and director of Pixar’s latest short film, knows all too well.

“My first job, I was like the only woman in the room, and so in order to do the thing that I loved I sort of became one of the guys,” she explains. “And then I came to Pixar and I started to work on teams with women for the first time, and that actually made me realise how much of the female aspect of myself I had sort of buried and left behind.”

As such, she decided to base Purl on her “experience being in animation”, in a bid to convey the benefits of a diverse workplace.

Check it out:

Judging by the reactions on Twitter, the short has struck a chord with women everywhere (and men, obviously, who think the use of the film’s “profanity” (the word ‘ass’ is used at one point) is beyond shameful).

“Love the reference to real situations at the workplace, and how they can be changed with hard work and not giving up under the pressure,” said one. “Beautiful animation as always. Loved it!”

Another added: “This was my life. So well done.”

And still one more said: “This is [the] Pixar we needed. MORE PLEASE!!!!”

The emotional outpouring is understandable: Purl’s message is, after all, a beautiful one. Not only does it remind us of the importance of having lots of different voices in the room, but it also stresses the need to build the sisterhood and shine our light on other women.

Or as Marysol Castro, the first-ever Latina public address announcer in Major League Baseball and the first woman announcer for the New York Mets, put it to Forbes, we need to “make room at the table and pave the way, so that younger women might have it just a bit easier on the way up”.

“We’re in it because there’s a whole slew of women behind us who we have to do that for,” she said. “And I don’t take that lightly.”

And for those women, Wilson had this advice: “Focus on what you are doing, forge ahead with your passion, and remind yourself that you are your own unique force.”

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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