On the 12th of September, 2018 the Wallis Annenberg Hall was full of chatter. Young, inquisitive and bold (mostly) women sat anxiously waiting to hear a panel of successful women in media. The panel consisted of Willow Bay (Dean, Annenberg School), Marsha Cooke (Senior VP of Content Strategy, VICE), Cindi Leive (Senior Fellow, Centre on Communication Leadership and Policy) and Kim Masters (Editor-at-Large, The Hollywood Reporter).
Cindi Leive started the panel discussion with some horrific statistics. According to a recent study, “Media” as an industry lags behind in terms of gender equality. Men report 3 times as much news as women. Women of color are underrepresented. This drew our attention to how the circumstances need to change in order for us to have “free” press. The industry cannot be free if half its members are stopped from participating. She opened our eyes to the urgency of the matter, and how even though we feel we have come a long way, there is a longer journey ahead of us.
A key takeaway from Kim Masters was her emphasis on “women to women mentorship”. While she has worked with top men in the media filed, she believes everything she has been taught was by a woman. I learnt that in this filed, mentorship goes a long way in finding your way into the industry. Kim also stressed the need to have a life outside of being a journalist. All the panelists were firm believers that “self-care”, often lost in the field, should be an important factor in one’s life.
Marsha Cooke believes that while her newsroom is working on women leadership and representation, internationally media is failing. To her the biggest shocker remains that a woman has been a president of executive producer of an evening broadcast show. She truly feels that women of color are underrepresented in particular.
In terms of funding, Dean Willow Bay is of view that while getting funding for women-based startups is hard, venture capitalists are recognizing this problem and leaping into the mix. She personally has funded Skimm, which reached down particularly to women funders, to make a case that who is sitting on your cap table really does matter. While opportunities are present, she feels this space is moving slowly.
As someone who is extremely interested in the field of media and entrepreneurship, my biggest takeaway from this event was, “Never say know to an opportunity” for this opportunity could make your career and take you to a place you had never imagined yourself to be. This event that I attended generated curiosity in my mind about the fact that why we aren’t being able to figure out how to solve the problem of underrepresentation of women in this dynamic, ever-changing field. This issue must be addressed in a larger context to bring about a real change as soon as possible.