Editorial: The TV Girls Club

Last week in New York City, some of the most powerful and accomplished
women of the TV and media industry helped ‘B&C’
realize a goal we set out last year: To celebrate the “Girls Club” for
the television industry.

Such boldface names as Rachael Ray, Glenn
Close, Maria Bartiromo, Gayle King, Erin Andrews,
Hall of Famer Peggy Green, Pam Zucker
and Arlene Manos helped us debut “Keynotes &
Cocktails: Women of New York” to a standingroom-
only crowd at New York’s Roosevelt Hotel
last Wednesday.

The women of this industry quite literally ordered
up “Women of New York.” As soon as the
last words were spoken at our inaugural edition
of this unique new event last summer, “Keynotes
& Cocktails: Women of Hollywood,” speakers
and attendees alike started asking for an East
Coast version.

At the time we launched “Women of Hollywood,”
with the support of such leaders as Disney/
ABC Television’s Anne Sweeney and CBS’
Nina Tassler, we were responding to what we felt
was a need to serve the women of our industry
that became evident after conducting extensive
anecdotal research among women of all levels and
many different sectors of television.

We had also taken good note of Newsweek’s big
report last spring, in which the magazine concluded
equality in the workplace for women remained
a myth. That conclusion came as Newsweek looked
at the state of women in the workplace four decades
after 46 females filed a landmark 1970 gender
discrimination case against it.

By last year’s turnout for “Women of Hollywood,”
where we sold out a massive Hollywood
hotel ballroom amid the dead of summer vacations,
the women of our business confirmed our
hunch that we needed more that just another
power list. We know there are women who have
made it, and we will continue to celebrate them.
But women in TV who haven’t reached that pinnacle
crave information on how to emulate those
people, and how to discover their own way upward.
They want access, insight, and also a safe
place to talk candidly so they can feel comfortable
asking what they have to ask—and those at
the top can feel comfortable answering.

That’s why we took the unusual step of making
the event off-the-record and stacked the lineup
with people our industry was clamoring to hear
from. Speakers and guests from last year’s edition
have been talking about it ever since, and now
this year’s “Women of New York” attendees are
doing the same.

This proves to us that the concept of bringing
women together to swap stories and tips about
things we can all relate to—no matter our role or
level—has a real place in the lives and careers of
the women in this community.

As we noted in this space last year—when we
called for a “Girls Club” of TV—the dedication
among so many industry organizations, events
and programs to promote diversity in our industry
continues to pay off. And as many industry
power lists prove every year, lots of women have
terrific jobs at the top of the TV and entertainment
business. But it’s a ridiculous understatement
to say that there’s room for improvement
in opportunity for women.

We still agree with the Newsweek story, which
pointed out that just as the first black president
didn’t wipe out racism, a female at the top of a
company doesn’t eradicate sexism. So, as long
as that balance remains a myth—and we know
that it is—we as a community will continue our
ongoing efforts to make television one of the best
industries for women to thrive in.

Yes, the term “The TV Girls Club” and its allusion
to Boys Club might seem misleading. This
is in no way an exclusionary exercise. Men are
welcome and invited.

And the women of the community are welcome
and invited to continue offering their feedback
about what they desire out of the “Keynotes
& Cocktails” series. We recognize the need for
these efforts to be relevant.

So as B&C plans the return of “Keynotes &
Cocktails: Women of Hollywood” in Los Angeles
this summer, we look forward to your input on
how to keep moving this “Club” forward.