Positional Leadership Among Top Women in Journalism and Media has Declined, Colorado Women's College Study Shows

By: Press Release | University of Denver

Top women hold only 23.3 percent of the leadership positions in journalism and media, according to a study by the Colorado Women’s College at the University of Denver.

Of the 25 largest daily newspapers in the U.S., only one publisher is female. In radio, they held 7.5 percent, of the leadership positions, the lowest percentage, and in the emerging social media, they held the 55 percent, the highest, according to the 
Benchmarking Women’s Leadership in the United States, 2013 study.

The magazine industry holds the industry distinction of being named a “most trustworthy media,” and not surprisingly female editors-in-chief claimed 70 percent, of the top 10 leadership spots. Nevertheless, women editors and executive editors earn 25.2 percent, less than their male counterparts in the magazine industry.

The study marks the first time that women in leadership roles across 14 sectors were evaluated, with the results compiled into one report.

Researchers examined the presence of women leaders at approximately 500 for- and not-for-profit organizations nationwide, and identified the frequency of women leaders in the top echelons within each of the 14 sectors studied. The top 10 organizations within each sector (based on size, profitability, budget and political or governmental influence) were analyzed. Researchers used public information as well as data found in a range of governmental databases while also looking at recognitions earned from third-party awards and rankings, among other sector-specific criteria. The study revealed that, in many instances, across the highest stratum within the 14 sectors reviewed, on average women hold under 20 percent of leadership positions, earn less than their male counterparts and by some measures are outperforming their peers.

Sectors evaluated include: Academia, Arts and Entertainment, Business and Commercial Banking, Entrepreneurship, Journalism and Media, Law, Medicine, Military, Nonprofit and Philanthropy, K-12 Education, Politics and Government, Religion, Sports and Technology. Detailed results by sector can be found at http://www.womenscollege.du.edu/bwl/report.html.

Highlights of the results show, for example, in academia, women win 55.9 percent of the most prestigious research awards despite only holding 29.1 percent of tenure track positions. In the arts and entertainment arena, women author 60 percent of best sellers yet only captured 27 percent of the earnings. In the business world, those organizations with women on their boards outperform companies with all-male boards by 26 percent. In K-12 education, women superintendents earn just 81.4% of what men earn. In the legal profession, 46.7 percent of law school graduates are women, and, at law firms, only 15 percent of equity partners and five percent of managing partners are women. In the non-profit sector, women CEO positions receive, on average, 80 percent of their male counterpart’s salary.

When taking all the research into consideration, the lack of women in leadership roles in those upper echelons may be due to a perceived bias against them as leaders.

“Some of the findings in this study suggest that in the highest levels of leadership, women oftentimes remain underrepresented and underpaid, regardless of performance,” said Lynn M. Gangone, Ed.D., dean at Colorado Women’s College.

"If we want to tackle some of the biggest issues facing our nation today – such as government, the economy, education and the environment -- then we must include diversity in our leadership. The call-to-action for all leaders is that they be intentional about whom they hire and promote, and especially consider qualifications and performance in those decisions. Evaluating each employee primarily on their individual performance -- regardless of gender or race -- would be a great step towards achieving diversity. When diversity is present, the opportunity to positively impact results can be significant,” Gangone concluded.

The Benchmarking Women’s Leadership in the United States, 2013, was inspired by a 2009 report by The White House Project, a non-partisan organization aimed at advancing women’s leadership that ceased operations in 2012. The previous study, The White House Project: Benchmarking Women’s Leadership, looked at women in leadership roles across 10 sectors, and laid the groundwork for Colorado Women’s College’s more expansive study.

The Benchmarking Women’s Leadership in the United States, 2013 study was made possible, in part, by a generous gift from entrepreneur and visionary, Emily Spencer, and the Emily B. Spencer Research Fund for the Advancement of Women’s Thought Leadership, which supports ethical research that generates knowledge, informs practice and promotes partnerships. Additionally, leading financial services company, TIAA-CREF, has sponsored the academia section of this study as well as supported the publication of the report.
“Our diverse workforce is one of our greatest strengths as a company,” said Connie Weaver, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at TIAA-CREF. “We’ve seen firsthand with employees and clients how a woman’s ability to achieve financial well-being is directly linked to her success on both a professional and personal front. We are pleased to collaborate with the Colorado Women’s College to support this very important initiative.”

To view and download Colorado Women’s College’s infographic on the Benchmarking Women’s Leadership in the United States, 2013 study, visit http://womenscollege.du.edu/bwl/infographic.pdf.

To access the full report, Benchmarking Women’s Leadership in the United States, 2013, visit http://womenscollege.du.edu/bwl/report.pdf.

To see the College’s blog post on the heels of the release of the report, go to http://coloradowomenscollege.wordpress.com.


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