In an industry that has been dominated by men since the beginning, is it finally time for women to take over? Unfortunately, the most recent statistics when it comes to women in journalism or other media industry careers show that women are still underrepresented in United States media. However, there’s room for immense change, and there are many women willing to take on the challenge.
According to recent research released back in February by the Women’s Media Center, women are so underrepresented in news and entertainment media that it is almost comical. While many other countries are getting closer to closing the gap between genders in the workplace, in the United States’ statistic of women comprising a mere 36% of all newspaper newsroom staffs has gone largely unchanged since 1999.
There’s some good news and bad news from the Women’s Media Center when it comes to women’s progress in broadcasting. For women in radio, their number rose 8% from 2012 to 2013, while everywhere else in broadcast news either stayed the same or rose only slightly. Another interesting fact I found in the report: across the U.S., 97.2% of local TV news stations had women employees in 2013… That means that somehow, somewhere, there is the chance that at least one local TV news station out there has zero female employees…
I’m sure this will come as a shock to all those who read this, but sports journalism is in dead last when it comes to representation of women. Or any minority for that matter. In fact, the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports’ gave sports journalism, all 150+ of their newspapers and websites, an overall F on their report card for their hiring practices among women. By the way, this is the third year in a row they’ve received this grade.
I guess we should do a golf clap for ESPN though, since apparently they are one of the only organizations that increased its hiring of women and minorities in 2012.
“ … Of the 11 women who were sports editors at this level, six worked for ESPN and two worked for The Sporting News,” said Richard Lapchick, director of the sports institute. “If the ESPN and The Sporting News sports editors who are women were removed, the percentage of female sports editors would drop from 13.9 percent to 4.2 percent.”
While sports journalism may be failing big time, it’s encouraging to see that radio opportunities for women have slightly spiked. I recently was able to interview Rachel Giordano, the executive producer for Channel 95.5’s Mojo in the Morning, and was able to get her input on her experience as a woman in the industry and how she thinks things have evolved over the years. Rachel began her career in television, working for notable television shows like The Late Show with David Letterman and The View before deciding to move her production talents to radio, first in Atlanta, and then finally settling here in Detroit. Since she became the executive producer of the show, Mojo in the Morning has risen to the top of the ratings and secured the number one position in the most sought-after listener demographics.
As women continually outnumber men in journalism programs at universities around the world, where do they all end up? According to the Women’s Media Center, many end up in PR and advertising positions instead.
A positive sign for the future though: the Pew Research Center has revealed that when it comes to social media, women are dominating. To me, this means nothing but good things. Social media is the present and will continue to be the future. If women can continue to rule the social media platforms most used by news organizations and elsewhere, they will be able to grow their audience to unbelievable heights.
Overall, I believe that the root of the problem does not lie in journalism alone. Women are historically underrepresented in a multitude of careers, and this has been addressed as an issue for years. In many ways we are still living in a “man’s world,” but I firmly believe that that is changing. While the statistics may be slow and steady, I feel as though women are going to rise to the top of the news world due to their social media savvy, and an overall change in the way that society views women in leadership roles.
As a graduating senior who in many ways is scared out of her mind to enter this industry, I’m also extremely fired up. I know that it won’t be easy to break into the bubble and create a career, but I’ve never been one to take the easy way out. Journalism isn’t for the weak or the timid. True journalism is for those brave enough to still want to expose the truth in an age of digital disruption and a multitude of obstacles that weren’t there only fifteen years ago. I’m ready for what’s in store, and I’m ready to become of those strong, positive media role models that I mentioned we need more of earlier.