National Press Club

Panel: Media organizations must focus on creating, hiring more female leaders

July 1, 2014 | By Aisha Chowdhry | aishachowdhry@yahoo.com

Carolyn Ryan (right) Washington bureau chief for The New York Times participates in a forum on closing the gender gap in journalism with moderator Jill Geisler of Poynter at the National Press Club, June 30, 2014.

Carolyn Ryan (right) Washington bureau chief for The New York Times participates in a forum on closing the gender gap in journalism with moderator Jill Geisler of Poynter at the National Press Club, June 30, 2014.

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

Top editors addressed the barriers women face in achieving leadership positions in journalism and how to overcome them at a panel discussion Monday at the National Press Club co-sponsored by the National Press Club Journalism Institute and The Poynter Institute.

Women account for more than a third of women in journalism, but less than a quarter hold leadership roles, the Poynter Institute's Jill Geisler told the group. Geisler, who moderated the event, said the data for the Women's Media Center also shows that women in leadership earn 25% less than their male counterparts.

“Only four women serve as editors-in-chief among the top 25 daily newspapers and out of the 25, one publisher is a female,” Geisler said.

Susan Goldberg, editor-in-chief of National Geographic and past president of the American Society of News Editors suggested dealing with turmoil in the industry widened the gender gap because media executives shifted focus away from hiring women, and racial and ethnic minorities.

Goldberg advised developing diverse pool of qualified candidates before making hiring decisions.

Creating such a pool requires building a diverse team at every level of the organization and creating a culture that develops leadership, Anders Gyllenhaal, vice president of news for McClatchy Newspapers.

“There is no substitute for basic hard work in this realm," Gyllenhaal said, noting that 13 of 29 McClatchy Newspapers are run by women. “You don’t get there by going out to find women editors. You get there by building a newsroom.”

Leadership styles may also create barriers for women in media, Madhulika Sikka, an executive editor at National Public Radio said. Sikka says at NPR she hired a team of women with varying backgrounds because each person had different skills to offer.

Once in the newsroom, women must assert themselves to secure raises and plum jobs, Carolyn Ryan, Washington bureau chief for The New York Times said.

“Reach out, put yourself forward. Engage. Banish bashfulness,” she said.