It’s the kind of coincidence that can’t be let alone. The same week that Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer banned working from home in a move that caused major upheaval among the media and the public, “Makers: Women Who Make America,” premiered on PBS, telling the story of the last 50 years of the American women’s movement.
Beginning with the publication of Betty Friedan’s book “The Feminine Mystique,”— which is credited with codifying women’s ennui as housewives and mothers—the three-hour documentary puts the iconic Gloria Steinem, founder of Ms. Magazine, front and center discussing the 70s. “It was heady and exciting and naïve, imagining that if we just explained it to people, that it was so unjust, that surely it would change.”
Makers is a very modern model of a truly cooperative effort. The project is funded by many companies and organizations including AOL, PBS, Unilever's Simple skincare brand, the Charles H. Revson Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
Narrated by Meryl Streep, the film focuses on the famous and infamous from Steinem and Abzug to Barbara Walters, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and barrier-breaker’s like tennis legend Billie Jean King.
Today’s young women are divided on the idea of being a feminist, with celebrities like “Katy Perry and Taylor Swift distancing themselves from the word and fearing that by saying, 'Hell yes I’m a feminist' they’ll come across as scowling, bitter, angry women and alienate their rabid fan base," notes Forbes.com.
“I hope it will change the way history is being taught,” says Dyllan McGee, creator and co-producer. “We really want Millennials to connect and to create an inclusive community. We have interviews with everyone from Tavi Gevinson to Ruth Bader Ginsberg. We hope this becomes water-cooler conversation.”
The documentary also features interviews with today's leaders including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who shares a funny story about her brother-in-law regarding fatherhood as "babysitting." The on-the-hotseat Yahoo CEO Mayer is quoted saying she's not a feminist because she doesn't have that "militant drive" or a "chip on her shoulder, according to the New York Times.
The film is the broadcast extension to the multiplatform video initiative that aims to become the largest collection of women’s stories ever assembled with a living library on MAKERS.com as well as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
For central sponsor AOL, the MAKERS project hits close to home. “The majority of AOL’s users are women, and we have an ongoing commitment to curating premium female-focused content,” said Maureen Sullivan, SVP and General Manager of Women’s Content and Lifestyle Brands at AOL.
In an effort to fine-tune their brands towards women, AOL just announced that it hired former Martha Stewart Living CEO Susan Lyne to run the AOL portfolio of brands. Lyne, who was once CEO and still serves as a chairman for retail shopping site Gilt, was previously president of ABC Entertainment.
Below, watch the PBS trailer for Makers, and check out the documentary in its entirety for free on Makers.com.