The paranormal field has more women now than there has ever been. To understand the paranormal field from a women’s point of view and understand what difficulties are unique to women in the field we speak to Jayne Harris.
Jayne Harris, paranormal investigator and researcher, said: “I grew up actually with my parents talking about their experiences. I just grew up in an environment that really accepted spirituality and the paranormal as just being a given. When I was 17 and my cousin who was 16 at the time, and we were like sisters, died in a car accident. That sparked my interest and desire to want to learn more and find out whether there is an afterlife.”
Jayne Harris is co-founder of HD Paranormal Research.
When women first entered the paranormal field there may have been misconceptions that women are only good for researching and mediumship as their too emotional to handle anything important. While researching and mediumship are important, it’s worth noting that women are capable of much more.
Harris said: “It’s not too bad these days. It used to be that we didn’t really know what it was all about, or we weren’t cut out for it. Of course, your carrying heavy kit around, so it takes a lot of endurance. I think when I was young and wanting to be part of paranormal groups it was looked upon that I didn’t really understand what I was getting myself into, I wouldn’t be able to stick it out. I think these days there’s not much of a misconception because there are a lot of successful women in the paranormal field. It’s certainly still male dominated.”
Women’s contribution to the paranormal has increased dramatically. More women are taking on a much bigger role than they ever did.
Harris said: “Women’s contribution to the paranormal has increased. I mean we’ve got women who own their own paranormal companies, ghost hunting, events companies, female magazine editors you know the list goes on. We’ve got female TV stars, we’ve got Katrina Weidman on Paranormal Lockdown and Amy Allan. I think the contribution is there and I think it’s growing. I’ve noticed a steep rise in me being contacted for things whereas before it was very much more the male. The people who are more well known in the field and who used to be asked to speak at conventions and give lecturers tended to be male.”
Women in the paranormal face different hurdles like not being taken seriously, not being given opportunities and much more. However, Jayne’s interest and focus of her research being haunted objects has been one of her biggest hurdles.
Harris said: “I mean my specialisms and something I’ve been really interested in is around objects and this phenomena that people believe they have a haunted object, so I’ve studied that and the psychological aspects of it. That’s a big hurdle because 18 years ago when I first started researching it, it was seen as a bit of a joke and there’s absolutely no way people could have paranormal experiences with objects. It’s taken a little bit more seriously now and the public are more interested in it because of films like Annabelle and Chucky. That’s also a bad thing because that’s what people associate it with and it’s not about that. I suppose one of my main interests has also been one of my biggest hurdles.
“When it comes to a glass ceiling, I don’t think there’s one of such, not any more so than in any industry. For anything it all depends on your own drive your own motivation and how thick skinned you are because especially in this industry in the paranormal field it can be very brutal. People can be harsh it’s cut throat, lots of backstabbing goes on. I don’t think women are any worse off than men when it comes to wanting to achieve in the paranormal.”
Equality is something all women try to achieve in their careers and women in the paranormal are no different. Although not all women in the field believe equality has been achieved as more women could be hosting TV shows from a scientific point of view because at the moment women are portrayed as squeamish and emotional rather than level headed and professional.
Harris said: “I suppose nowadays when it comes to conventions and things there is a real desire to have a balance whereas before you may have had eight or ten male speakers nowadays it’s much more about what your speaking about than who you are. With my interest in objects and because I’m a woman I suppose I tick two boxes there so it’s different to have me as a guest speaker so that helps sometimes.
“There will always be to a degree that idea of an old boys’ club especially when it comes to societies paranormal societies because they were founded in the Victorian era and of course it was all men but it’s not the case today, but I think among certain small pockets of the communities you may still get that attitude. Generally speaking things are pretty much on an even level now.”
Encouraging younger women into a field dominated by men may seem difficult but if they have a drive and enthusiasm for the paranormal then nothing should stop them from achieving what they want to. More female role models will help drastically to encourage more young women into the paranormal field. Even though there are loads of women in the paranormal field the way they are portrayed in the public eye is not helpful in encouraging younger women into the filed.
Jayne used to be Peggy the Doll's caretaker.H
Harris said: “I just think we need to get away from the very shallow entertainment that’s been put out there at the moment because there’s a big desire at the moment for a deeper understanding. Rather than putting together a lame, low budget and boring scream fest on TV which most people will just turn over, it needs to be something that shows the history side of things. If women are interested in the paranormal it can be good to just actually start speaking about it amongst your friends and amongst other women.”
For women to be fully accepted in the paranormal field the way they are portrayed in the public eye needs to change. More women need to head investigative teams on TV. The stronger, professional and scientific side of women needs to be shown on TV, yes women can be sensitive, but they can also be strong. Speaking to Jayne has allowed a glimpse into the paranormal field from a woman’s point of view and a chance to understand the difficulties unique to women.