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Women in entertainment, tech tell young girls: You don't have to be perfect

Country singer Trisha Yearwood, actress Rebecca Covington Webber and other professionals shared their advice at Zynga's Women in Entertainment panel.


From left to right, Trisha Yearwood, Rebecca Covington Webber, Sarah Lacy, Phuong Phillips and Krystal Bowen,   privacy and investigations lead at Zynga. 


If there's one thing country singer Trisha Yearwood wants young girls to think of when they see her, it's that she's just a normal person with a not-so-normal job.

"I have all the same doubts, fears, anxiety, good days and bad days that they do," Yearwood said. "We all have so much more in common than we do differences."

Yearwood spoke at Zynga's Women in Entertainment panel on Monday, along with actress and Hamilton star Rebecca Covington Webber, journalist and entrepreneur Sarah Lacy, and Zynga's chief legal officer, Phuong Phillips. The women spoke about attaining gender equality, diversity and inclusion in entertainment and tech.

Yearwood opened by discussing her latest single, Every Girl in This Town, which touches on the idea that it's OK if you aren't on your A game all the time.

"It's OK to be who you are, and whatever that looks like for you is OK," she said.

Lacy echoed those sentiments, adding that women are held to a different standard than men when it comes to making mistakes. When someone like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg or former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick mess up, people make excuses for them, she said. But when someone like Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes gets in trouble, "we have 16 movies about it," she laughed.

"One of the taxes that women pay, especially in the corporate world and especially in tech, is we have to be more perfect," Lacy said. "If we can get away from women feeling like they have to be perfect in order to have a shot at equality, what a favor to do to the next generation."

Representation isn't just lacking in entertainment. The tech industry, which claims to be data-driven, she says, has been slow to incorporate more women and people of color, despite studies showing that diverse companies have greater profits.

A man Lacy was once interviewing told her that despite the criticism companies like Facebook, Apple and Google get for not being diverse, they're still successful.

"This is an industry of pattern recognition, not data," Lacy said. "Every single one of us needs to collectively break that pattern."

She advises women to choose their battles, build a coalition and go in with data. That'll force people in the industry to confront their own biases, and they can choose to either change or own up to the fact that something other than data is informing their decisions, she says.

Covington Webber, who is African-American, says she didn't see people who looked like her when she'd watch the Tony Awards or Broadway coverage on TV as a kid.

"That was really hard for me, because I'm like, 'How do I do what I love [while] looking how I look and being who I am?'" Covington Webber said. She's happy to see more diversity in the industry today and encourages young girls of color to follow their dreams.

Covington Webber also advises women to speak up for what they believe in to enable change, and to utilize tools like social media to promote those beliefs.

Phillips, Zynga's chief legal officer, also shared a reminder: Success looks different for everyone, so don't compare yourself to your peers.

"If you're proud of what you're doing, that's success," Phillips said.

Yearwood, for her part, is hopeful that we'll see progress and change in the music industry in the near future. An engineer on her latest album, after all, was a female -- a role that isn't traditionally held by women.

"We're in such a creative industry to be so exclusive," Yearwood said.