Today we are thrilled to be at the 2011 WIE Symposium's Inspiration Day. This morning we were excited to host a panel titled "Fearlessness: A Bold Vision for the Next Generation of Women in Media." Christina Norman, Executive Editor of Huffington Post Black Voices, moderated a discussion and we had a phenomenal lineup of panelists:
Hanna Rosin, founding editor of DoubleX, Atlantic contributing editor, and author of a forthcoming book based on her now famous piece "The End of Men;" Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of The Paley Center; Hilary Rosen, managing director of the Public Affairs and Communications Practice of SKDKnickerbocker; and Lori Leibovich, The Huffington Post's executive women's editor.
In keeping with the topic, Christina Norman started the conversation by citing a few facts about women in media:
-Since Katie Couric left the CBS Evening News, Diane Sawyer is the only remaining female news anchor. While there are more female anchors in cable news, the picture for women as expert commentators and guests isn't as pretty. In 2008, 67% of the guests on primetime cable news shows were men, according to Media Matters for America, and 84% of them were white.
-In entertainment, for the 2009-2010 prime time TV season, while there were more roles for women on TV than in recent memory, only 27% of all creators, executive producers, directors, writers, editors and directors of photography were women. In feature films, the numbers decrease even more with only 16% of those same categories being filled by women for the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2009.
-On the technology side, women rule social media, spending 30% more time on social media sites than men according to Comscore, Neilsen, Media Metrix and Quantcast. Yet there are no female directors at Twitter, Zynga, Fourscore or Facebook.
Is this as good as it gets, or are we just getting started? Norman asked the panelists.
Mitchell said we're finally coming into our own, kicking off a wide-ranging discussion on how to get more women into media jobs, and thereby influence how women are portrayed in the media. Norman asked whether women have more of a responsibility to hire women, and Mitchell said that when you repeatedly hire women, you'll be called on again and again to defend those hires. Rosen says she "takes a meeting with any young woman who asks for it."
Panelists also touched on the lack of confidence they see in other women. Hanna Rosin marveled at it in light of statistics showing that the average 20-year-old is better educated than her male peers, and Mitchell revealed the unsettling fact that most of the women approached to speak at TEDWomen, which she hosts, turn down the invitation. Mitchell suspects they decline either because they feel they don't have time -- they put their immediate obligations to their jobs and family before claiming a platform for themselves -- or they aren't willing to speak unless they feel they have every aspect of their ideas perfectly down. Would a man turn down such a prestigious speaking engagement for either of those reasons?
Later in the conversation, Rosin argued that every woman should "play to her bias," that no one expects a woman to act like a man anymore, so women should proceed with the knowledge that they will be viewed as a woman, with all of the prejudices -- negative and positive -- that may come with that, and work from there.
Leibovich's advice to young women in media was to go after people more than jobs. The people she met along the way often led her to far more interesting opportunities than the jobs she thought she should be pursuing.
Here are some of our favorite moments from the panel.
What do you think needs to be done to give women more of a foothold in the media? If you're employed in the media, what's working for women and what isn't?