ToyNews dropped by the Women in Toys (WIT) stand at this year’s Toy Fair to talk to the organisation’s UK chapter chair, Dr Amanda Gummer – founder of The Good Play Guide – to discover how the WIT movement has been supporting women in the industry throughout the pandemic with mentoring, training, and other online support. This year, Amanda reports, male-owned business have been wanting to know how better to support their female employees – a change she really welcomes.
The UK chapter of WIT is a volunteer-run organisation that aims to support women in the Toy, Licensing and Entertainment industries. “It welcomes everyone but its events and support are particularly suited to the way many women work – less golf and pub culture and more family-friendly events with a collaborative, pay-it-forward atmosphere,” explains Amanda.
“We know that women have been disproportionately affected by the demands and restrictions of the pandemic and we’ve seen lot more interest in the support WIT offers this year, as women are re-evaluating their working practices and often want to find ways to work smarter not harder.”
The mentoring scheme that pairs experienced women with newcomers to the industry has been a huge success, and Amanda herself has mentored several women as part of this. She says: “The great thing about mentoring is that whilst it seems altruistic, it is actually a great way for the mentor to keep up with the issues facing start-ups and the trends and opportunities in the industry, and the amazing women that put themselves forward to be mentored are trusting you with their dreams – it’s an honour to be invited to join their journey.”
What Amanda has found especially encouraging this year is the interest in WIT from male-owned businesses. A networking event is usually a highlight of the toy fair but with the Covid restrictions the planned event has been moved online and will be hosted in March in partnership with Threepipe Reply – one of the male-owned companies wanting to show their support for women in their company as well as the wider industry.