Women in the Media

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A new report on women in the media is being released by the Women’s Media Center. The center and The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication will hold an event centered around the report February 19 at Arizona State University’s Gammage Auditorium. Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of “Take the Lead,” an organization that prepares women for leadership roles, and Kristin Gilger, Associate Dean in the Cronkite School, will talk about the report and women in the media.

Ted Simons: A new report by the New York and Washington-based Women's Media Center shows that disparities exist when it comes to women in the media, and that because of this disparity, journalism is missing voices and missing stories. ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication will hold an event focused on the report this Wednesday at Gammage Auditorium. Joining us now to talk about women in media is Gloria Feldt, cofounder and president of Take the Lead, an organization that prepares women for leadership roles, and Kristin Gilger, associate dean of the Cronkite school. Good to see you both here. Good to see you both again as well. Women's Media Center, what is that?

Gloria Feldt: The Women's Media Center is an organization, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to make women's voices heard. To make women powerful and visible in the media. It's an organization that I've served on the board for some years, though I have term limited out, so I'm no longer on the board, but because I started Take the Lead, which is also a nonprofit organization to private sector pair and propel women to take their equal share of leadership positions across all sectors, and actually Take the Lead is hosting this event at Gammage, I wanted to make sure that this whole issue of women in the media and the impact of media on women's leadership would be an important part of that conversation.

Ted Simons: So what is the status of women in the media?

Kristin Gilger: Oh, wow. I'm glad you asked that question. Actually, they've been tracking this for some time, jump in here. It hasn't changed very much. Women represent, if you look at employment in the media, for example, women are about a third of the staff of newspapers, about a third of the management of newspapers, they represent about 40% of those in broadcast, but much smaller when you get higher up in the field. About 20% in radio. And when you look at the higher level positions, then of course there's still far fewer women than men in leadership positions.

Ted Simons: You mentioned a few categories here, define media. What are we talking about?

Kristin Gilger: Oh, geez. OK. Well, talk about who is surveyed in this.

Gloria Feldt: Well, the report itself looks at radio, television, print, online, and sports media for the first time, I think, and also looks at a breakdown not only by gender, but also minorities as well. So it's very comprehensive in its scope.

Ted Simons: I seem to remember, though, not so long ago, that some thought journalism was become a pink collar industry for lack after better phrase. That was the phrase being used. What happened there?

Gloria Feldt: It's what's happened in just about every profession. What's happened is, women have opened doors, women are earning 57% of the college degrees now and have been for almost two decades. So in the professions, women get the degrees, they start into their field, and then when they start, they're about 50/50, and as the years go on, there are fewer and fewer women closer and closer to the top. So that across all sectors of professions, women are about 18% and have been stalled at that place for almost 20 years. That's why we're taking the lead and saying, we gotta change that.

Kristin Gilger: If you look at journalism school, the Cronkite school, for example, is almost 70% women enrollment. And those -- Those numbers are not unusual for the Cronkite school. That's true for journalism schools across the country. Colleges, universities are primarily female enrollment now, I think it's around 60% or more. So there's a great interest with women going into the field, and some people say that is because as the field has had some stresses and maybe employment is a little bit more difficult or the pay is not as much as it might have been, then that men flee to other fields and there's more openings for women. That can be a good thing and that can be a bad thing.

Ted Simons: Interesting, I hadn't heard that. What -- Obviously as a dean you look at this, you're in the position of authority, you're seeing kids come in, you know what they want, you know where they want to go. How do you get them to where they want to go and also be cognizant of these numbers?

Kristin Gilger: Some of it is giving students opportunities here while they're here to be in leadership positions, and to try things that maybe they would have a harder time getting into into the profession. A good example is women in sports, for example. We have -- We're really ramping up our sports offerings and doing a sports journalism degree at the Cronkite school because there's so much interest in sports journalism. But that's driven a lot by female students. We have so many female students now who are very interested in sports journalism, and we were talking about this earlier as to why that is. And I think it's has to do with other cultural changes. They're coming to us and they play sports all their lives, or they're in families where sports has been a big deal. And it's not an unusual thing for them to think, why not? Sports journalism. I can do this. And so if they get the opportunities here to run organizations, to do internships, to run stats, or whatever it is, or cameras, or do the reporting, or work for MLB.com, or do our spring training program where they're going out and covering the spring training teams here, they come out with this level of confidence that they can do this.

Ted Simons: I want to ask you about that. In taking the lead, you have to be a bit of a leader. Do you -- Can you learn that at the university level with what we just heard, or is that kind of an innate sort of thing that you either got it or you don't?

Gloria Feldt: I think there are perhaps some innate characteristics some people may have more than others, but definitely these are learnable and teachable skills. And in fact I've been teaching a course at ASU for the last five years called women, power and leadership. I have a fairly low tech definition of leadership. I believe a leader who someone who gets something done. It begins to be less frightening when I deconstruct it like that, it begins to be less of something they would say I don't want to do that. But what I'd like to say is that what I have found in the research that I've done the last book I wrote, really delved into it, I interviewed women all over the country, I looked at the research, I looked into my own learned -- My own actual lived experience as a leader, and what I found is that women have an ambivalent relationship with power. And that until we grapple with that and deal with that head on, that we're not going to see women actually breaking through that to 18-20% barrier. So that's what I hope to infuse into this whole discussion of women in leadership.

Ted Simons: That's a great point. When you're dealing with students and you're looking at their future, 70%, that's a considerable amount there in this particular capacity. And yet we see so few in the professional world. How do you get a little bit more of that, I don't know, gumption or whatever you need, to make that --

Kristin Gilger: I don't know, the students I work with they've already got it. We just have to give them the opportunities. And I think that as this generation of women moves into the media, they're going to take those leadership roles. And there are -- And sports is another good example where if you look at the numbers of women in sports, if they're not sports editors, 10% of the women in newspapers, 10% of sports editors at newspapers around country are women, but there are slight increases, there are increases at the bottom level. So you see women going in as sports reporters, as producers, as web producers, as video producers, television, and so I still think that if they're equipped with what we can give them, if we encourage them in their practices and their leadership skills, they're going into those jobs and I think they'll move up.

Ted Simons: And I mentioned gumption on the part of the women. I'm sure there are quite a few with quite a lot of gumption who wind up just absolutely unable to move ahead for a variety of reasons. Are those reasons changing at all?

Gloria Feldt: There are still plenty of implicit biases. We all live in the same cultural soup as it were. And so both men and women ingest some of the same stereotypes about gender. Even though this is 2014, there are still some of those there. We still know that if you send two resume and one is Harry and one is Harriet, Harry is always viewed as being more qualified for the position. And so women have to be prepared for that kind of thing, and I believe one of the problems we face is actually a problem of success. Because we have seen a woman first almost everything. And so it's easy to think there are no more problems. But then what happens is that young women enter a profession and about 10 years later they get smacked with all kinds of consequences of these implicit biases they were not prepared for. We have to prepare them for that.

Kristin Gilger: There's no female bob Costas yet.

Ted Simons: No, I guess there's not. I assume they can all see right now with two eyes wide open. You know, you mentioned 10 years from now, in so many ways you can see this 18 to 25-year-old group, whether it's medical marijuana, whether it's gay marriage, a whole variety of issues, they see things differently than their elders, than the boomers and such. Is this a situation where we won't even be talking about this in 20 years, because this generation will have moved into higher levels of power and this won't be such a problem?

Gloria Feldt: We may have some differences of opinion about this. I tend to think that knock ever just happens. -- Nothing ever just happens. Though there are cultural trends, ultimately people have to consciously decide, we're going to take those steps forward. And that one of the things also that take the lead values very much and teaches women is how to do what I call sister courage, in other words, to join together with each other to move forward together, women are more likely to keep going forward if they feel they have that support system. So they have to learn to make that support system for themselves.

Ted Simons: We've got about a minute left. Do you see a certain generation having to move on if you will, before something like this evens itself out?

Kristin Gilger: I don't know how long it's going to take, but I can tell you when I started in journalism, which was a few years ago, women weren't in the business sections of newspapers. Women weren't -- There were no female editors. And I saw that change dramatically in the last 20 or so years. And it's not going to change overnight. And women have to make sure it happens, but I definitely think it can happen.

Ted Simons: All right. Wednesday at Gammage. Correct?

Gloria Feldt: Yes.

Ted Simons: Good to have you both here.

Gloria Feldt: Thank you.

Kristin Gilger: Thank you, Ted.

Gloria Feldt:Co-Founder and President, Take the Lead; Kristin Gilger:Associate Dean, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication;

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