In the wake of online discussions about The New York Times coverage, or lack thereof, of female authors, Eugenia Williamson finds that public radio is worse: NPR and WBUR talked about male writers about 70 percent of the time.
In August 2010, the literary corner of the Internet seized in crisis. Editors wrote pained confessions; anonymous commenters called established writers "whiny bitches"; critics made grand pronouncements. One admitted that he couldn't remember the last book he'd read by a woman, while another declared, "[This] brings us to the edge of the precipice of having to re-evaluate what we think is worthwhile in literature."
The catalyst for all this was what appeared to be a rather mild observation shared on Twitter by the novelist Jodi Picoult: "Would love to see the NYT rave about authors who aren't white male literary darlings."
With fellow New York Times best-seller-list fixture Jennifer Weiner, Picoult had caught more than a whiff of sexism in the literary establishment's recent, near-unanimous canonization of Jonathan Franzen's latest novel. In a subsequent interview with the Huffington Post, the pair questioned why the New York Times rarely reviewed their own books positively — if at all — even as they perched atop its best-seller list.
They had a point. Following up on their allegations, Slate confirmed that over 60 percent of books reviewed in the New York Times in the preceding two years were written by men. What's more, when it came to the books reviewed in both the daily Times and the Sunday Book Review, 71 percent were written by men.
While the fracas abated eventually, the underlying problem never went away. Last week — more than a year after the initial controversy — Weiner posted an update to her blog. By her count, the coverage split still hovers around 60–40 in favor of men. While those books the Times reviewed twice saw a marked improvement to a 50–50 split in the past year, Téa Orbreht was the only woman among 10 men to earn the Times trifecta of two reviews and a profile.
My own research has turned up even more damaging statistics. To test Weiner's hypothesis, I turned to another literary gatekeeper: public radio. NPR is one of the few mass media outlets to devote regular coverage to books and novelists. According to their own Web site, 34 million people tune into NPR stations every week, and almost 27 million listen regularly to at least one NPR show. And NPR drives sales: as any bookseller will tell you, a guest spot on Fresh Air sends droves of right-minded Americans scurrying to their local independent.
In 2011, women held 7.5% of executive officer top earner positions at Fortune 500 companies and a miniscule 3.6% of those firms have women as CEOs. According to a study by Pax World, Calvert and Walden Asset Management, a paltry 9.4% of directors on global corporate boards are women. We make up 46.7% of the US labor force, but in keeping with the global trend we hold fewer positions of responsibility and work part-time more frequently. And of course we're paid less than male peers: 17.2% less in the U.S., 18% less in the EU. According to Linda Basch, National Council for Research on Women (NCRW) President, the guy who sat next to me at Oxford is statistically likely to make $2M more than me over our lifetimes.
Valerie Keller, the Founder and CEO of Veritas, on being a female CEO:
Perhaps because I was a young CEO, I never paid much attention before to the 'glass ceiling' or other woes of women in the workplace... until a mid-career MBA at Oxford recently woke me up. A meager 10% of my classmates were women. As it turns out, that is pretty high. In 2011, women held 7.5% of executive officer top earner positions at Fortune 500 companies and a miniscule 3.6% of those firms have women as CEOs. According to a study by Pax World, Calvert and Walden Asset Management, a paltry 9.4% of directors on global corporate boards are women. We make up 46.7% of the US labor force, but in keeping with the global trend we hold fewer positions of responsibility and work part-time more frequently. And of course we're paid less than male peers: 17.2% less in the U.S., 18% less in the EU. According to Linda Basch, National Council for Research on Women (NCRW) President, the guy who sat next to me at Oxford is statistically likely to make $2M more than me over our lifetimes.
What is the problem? Nature or nurture? Are most of our sisters genetically hardwired to not seek out positions of power and influence -- and/or are there cultural and systemic blockages? What solutions are working to increase numbers of women leading in corporations and how can those be amplified and accelerated?
Marie Wilson, founder of the White House Project, explains that the role of the first lady is problematic because the cultural ideal of women in the United States has not kept pace with the reality of women’s lives; it’s still about being a wife and mother. Cultural ideals die hard, and the role we preserve for first ladies serves as the most powerful and visible enforcer of that ideal.
But as women assume ever more visible and powerful leadership roles as Supreme Court justices and members of the president’s cabinet, as well as CEOs of large U.S. companies, the cultural ideal of wife and mother has been further threatened. Even when first ladies are good wives and mothers, they are still reined in when they try to go beyond.
When we have our first woman president and, thus, our first gentleman (it even sounds bad), believe me, we will figure out how to change this role pronto. Until then, there are other real ways we can get off the dime.
In 2011, women comprised 18% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. This represents an increase of 2 percentage points from 2010 and an increase of 1 percentage point from 1998.
Women accounted for 5% of directors, a decrease of 2 percentage points from 2010 and approximately half the percentage of women directors working in 1998.
38% of films employed 0 or 1 woman in the roles considered, 23% employed 2 women, 30% employed 3 to 5 women, and 7% employed 6 to 9 women.
At an NCRW expert panel on September 29, 2010 at American Express, authors Sally Helgesen and Julie Johnson provided compelling evidence for the view that companies with both women and men in strategic leadership positions have a competitive advantage over companies that do not. The particular strengths of women - their broad-spectrum vision, empathy and interpersonal skills, and their value-based, collaborative style - are increasingly recognized, but still under-valued in assessing leadership potential.
NCRW held an expert panel on February 28, 2011 at American Express with senior leaders from business, government, and academia to explore the case for, barriers to, and action steps needed to expand the number of women in leadership positions. While many overt barriers to women’s advancement have been largely dismantled, and the pipeline to leadership is filled with highly qualified women, the embedded prejudices in our institutions and culture as well as the expectations women have for their professional and personal lives, especially younger women, still pose challenges.
New report from American University's Women & Politics Institute, "Men Rule: The Continued Under-Representation of Women in U.S. Politics," details the results of a survey of nearly 4,000 leaders, all of whom are well-situated to run for office and why even with the emergence over the past ten years of high-profile women in politics, the authors find that the gap between women and men's interest in running for office is the same today as it was a decade ago.
Our findings run counter to media coverage of the so-called phenomenon that “women don’t ask.” Instead the problem may be, as some other research has shown, that people routinely take a tougher stance against women in negotiations than they take against men—for example quoting higher starting prices when trying to sell women cars or making less generous offers when dividing a sum of money. Catalyst research has shown a number of ways that talent-management systems can also be vulnerable to unintentional gender biases and stereotypes.
Our latest findings should help us move past arguments that women themselves are to blame for the gender gap. “Too often the focus is on ‘women’s perceived issues’,” says Shahla Aly, a vice president at Microsoft. “This notion gives false comfort – that with time women will ‘be fixed’ and advance.”
If women are asking, but are still not advancing as quickly, maybe we need to frame things differently. Perhaps it’s not that women don’t ask—but that men don’t have to.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett of the Center for Talent Innovation argues that, with the imminent retirement of the over 1,1000 F1000 directors over 70, demand is surging for a new generation of directors, one which better reflects the 21st-century marketplace.
Now nearly 100 years later, the dearth of women on America’s corporate boards is as striking as is the need for them. Women control nearly 75 percent of consumer purchasing decisions, yet there are still 29 Fortune 1000 consumer companies with no women on their boards, according to research by CTPartners, a global executive search firm. In a time of economic turmoil and political instability, male CEOs and directors repeatedly told CTPartners that having women in the boardroom leads to better-informed discussions and more thoughtful decision-making, sentiments backed up by a 2011 Catalyst studyshowing that major companies with three or more female directors outperformed companies with zero women on boards by 46 percent of return on equity – yet among the Fortune 1000, there are 144 boards that have no women directors, and women comprise fewer than 15 percent of all directors.
But there’s good news: More than 1,100 directors currently serving on F1000 boards are over 70 years old. With their retirement imminent, demand is surging for a new generation of directors, one which better reflects the 21st-century marketplace. How can qualified women ensure that they’re considered as candidates to fill those slots?
Despite the preeminent role women play in healthcare, a recent study by RockHealth uncovered some stunning statistics about the paucity of women running startups (at least that are getting funded). Consider that while women compose 73% of medical and health services managers, only 4% of healthcare CEOs were women. In the 2011 Venture Funded Digital Health database that RockHealth created, they looked at organizations who received over $2M in venture funding — none had a female CEO. The report also outlines other interesting statistics such as the percentage of TEDMED speakers who were female.