Gender was just about all that the speakers in last Saturday’s “Creative Forces: Women in the Biz” panel at the Lobero Theatre had in common, for their stories were as diverse as their individual crafts. In the female-dominated costume design industry, Mary Zophres (“No Country for Old Men”) and Rita Ryack (“Hairspray”) said they do not feel threatened by sexism or ageism. But editor Tatiana Riegel (“Lars and the Real Girl,” “There Will Be Blood”) said she has found that male directors prefer to entrust fellow men with the chopping block responsibilities, partly due to the fact that the two can spend up to 12 hours a day fixing a film together. Though she admitted that she and her female peers had overcome their share of prejudice, she stopped short of sharing any negative or juicy stories.

In fact, the panelists as a whole were positive and upbeat, and the juiciest story also turned out to be the most inspiring. Before writer/director Carolyn Miller made her festival debut with the low-budget “Still Waters,” she worked as Brian De Palma’s driver. While trapped in rush hour traffic, the “intimidating” director grilled Miller about her own story ideas, leading him to ask, “So why are you driving me around?”

Producer Leslie Iwerks (“The Pixar Story”) broke into the business with a documentary about her grandfather’s important yet little-known role in helping to create the Mickey Mouse character. “I raised $600,000 and went to Roy with the money,” she explained, inspiring a frustrated audience member to eventually ask how exactly first-time films get funded. “With enough passion, you make connections,” responded Ryack, but Miller also cited confidence, assertiveness, and “clusterfuck luck of the job.”

Deidra Edwards, star of the festival film “Disfigured,” was more straightforward about her modest beginnings. The self-described “full-figured actress” repeatedly passed on playing characters who were “shoving food down” their faces, until she was presented with Glenn Gers’ “moving” script. Though there is only a limited amount of roles available for overweight actresses, the experience gave Edwards hope.

On maintaining respect as a female director, Miller said she found that “you can’t get upset or emotional in a conflict, even if you’re like ‘I hate that person.'”

But Iwerks said she prefers not to think about possible sexism.

“Women should have a ‘what glass ceiling?’ mindset.”

“It’s a necessary luxury,” said the young Miller of film school, but both of the costume designers learned their craft from art school, and Zophres caught a break after being hired to “sort a huge pile of clothes into ’50s, ’60s and ’70s” era themes.

As for editing, Riegel compared the process to attending a large dinner party, where “you’re trying to figure out what’s more important, the reaction, someone talking, footsie under the table, where do your eyes want to be?” In the cutting room, Riegel said she trusts her own instincts, and she often has to argue for or against directors for the sake of a better film. “If I don’t get it, the audience won’t either.”

Clearly, the women in the business approach their positions and the relationship between their gender and their jobs with very different mindsets. But, perhaps that diversity of expertise and experiences is, indeed, the most profound point such a panel can make.