Using an appreciative inquiry approach and sharing a reflexive 4-D (i.e., discovery, dreams, design, delivery / destiny) narrative that explores societal, organizational and personal perspectives, this action research study describes a specially designed, internationally respected Canadian national professional development initiative for women screen directors, entitled ‘Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC)’. The narrative traces how this initiative came to be, and within the context of North America’s ‘waves’ of feminism, where it is placed on the landscape of Canada’s screen industry. While foregrounding a well-documented socio-cultural ‘lack of confidence’ in women leaders and in particular in women screen directors in Canada, the study contextualizes the personal ‘leadership experience’ narratives of WIDC director participants while the author makes meaning of her own leadership journey as a co-creator of the WIDC initiative. The author further explores the twenty-two-year evolution of WIDC’s transformation-oriented pedagogical design as she reflects on the positive core of WIDC and asks, ‘What is WIDC? What was learned and what’s next?’ Sharing leadership metaphors that offer guidance for navigating a ‘continuum of confidence’ and offering a theoretical map towards transformation for individual women as well as feminist or like-minded organizations, the study concludes with a call to action to adopt an appreciative growth-minded stance in order to create space for authentic voices to thrive in Canada’s screen industry, in particular the voices of female leaders.
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Thesis advisor: Mamchur, Carolyn
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