In 2010, Broadcasting & Cable launched the “Keynotes & Cocktails: Women of…” event series in Los Angeles. Our Editorial then cited Newsweek magazine’s probe of its own past as defendant in a landmark 1970 lawsuit over workplace equality. In the TV business, we noted, faulty assumptions are sometimes made about gender balance due to the achievements of a few standout women at the top. “As long as that balance remains a myth,” we wrote, “we need ongoing efforts to keep moving forward. And we need those efforts to be relevant.”
Four years later, our efforts continue. This Thursday, our Women of New York event will be the seventh in the series and the fourth held in New York. It will renew dialogue about women in the television business, with a singular approach. After conducting extensive anecdotal research among women of all levels and many different sectors of TV, we concluded that we didn’t need another “power list.” Women in TV crave practical information on how to discover their own way to cut a trail upward. They want access, insight and a safe place to talk candidly so they can feel comfortable asking the crucial questions— and so those asked can feel comfortable answering.
Having some women in power in TV (not to mention B&C’s first female editor-in-chief) doesn’t mean there’s not still huge opportunity to make TV an even greater industry for women to work in. Headlining Thursday’s lineup, tennis legend Martina Navratilova and noted broadcaster Meredith Vieira will do one-on-one Q&As. Execs from all reaches of the industry will also participate on panels. And we are introducing an audience- participation segment to tap the wisdom of the room.
As potent as the event has turned out to be, we wanted to take stock more comprehensively; thus, this week’s inaugural Women’s Issue, which reckons with sobering statistics. In a recent report, Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) found the number of full-time female employees in the cable telecommunications industry is lower today than it was 10 years ago (34% in 2013 versus 39% in 2003). And on April 14, the Writers Guild of America released a report showing a dip in the number of employed female writers from 28% in 2009 to 27% in 2012. Female writers, the WGA said, made 82 cents for every dollar earned by male writers. Board seats held by women continue to be few and far between. Veteran TV executive and B&C Hall of Famer Tony Vinciquerra, interviewed for the first time with his wife Toni Knight, founder-CEO of media sales firm WorldLink says boards are actively seeking more women. “Since women are obviously a huge part of the marketplace, you need to have their perspective,” he says.
Men, increasingly, come to our “Women of…” events, and we encourage that. Our first Women’s Issue this week demonstrates our commitment to providing relevant, resonant information and data to help all members of the TV community continue transforming this business. We look forward to seeing you Thursday and, as always, hearing your feedback.