“Sit in the front row and raise your hand every chance you get.”
“You don’t have to wear every insecurity you have on your sleeve.”
Leading women in media and communications dished out some tough-love advice for the next generation of aspiring news directors, executive editors and CEO’s during a Tuesday panel organized by Florida International University’s Kopenhaever Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication.
Questioning the usefulness of advising career-minded young women to (in the phrase popularized by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg) “lean in,” Stephens College President Dianne M. Lynch said professional advancement requires women to “make sure they are focused on outcomes instead of emotions.”
Today’s female college students, she said, increasingly reject gender scorekeeping: “They do not want to be told there should parity in the newsroom for the sake of parity. They’re not interested in what they perceive to be privilege by gender on either side.”
The event (“Equity and Equality of the Sexes in Communications: Are Women Getting There?”) was part of opening-week festivities for FIU’s new Washington office, just blocks from the Capitol, part of a growing wave of universities establishing D.C. presences to support their intern programs and government-relations advocacy.
Turk reviewed the findings of her recently completed survey for the Kopenhaver Center showing that, while women occupy an increasing percentage of jobs in print, broadcast and digital media, those jobs tend to be lower-paying, and women remain underrepresented in the executive ranks: 53 percent of women in the survey but only 41 percent of men reported annual salaries of less than $75,000, while those earning $150,000 or more were overwhelmingly men. (Turk noted that just three major American newspapers have women editors, which reflects a decline over the past decade-and-a-half.)
Women who reported feeling held back their professional advancement were most likely to cite their own lack of confidence, their employers’ inadequate career development programs and a lack of mentorship opportunities. Men, by contrast, were more likely to cite external economic factors such as layoffs and downsizing.
When asked by an attendee about achieving a successful “work-life balance” that allows off-hours time for family, social and recreational pursuits, the experts had some unexpected advice: Forget about it.
“I haven’t achieved work-life balance,” said National Geographic Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg. “I am an utter failure at work-life balance — and it has served me well.”
Lynch agreed, quoting advice she received as a rookie reporter from legendary broadcaster Barbara Walters: “People who succeed are people who choose work over everything else.”