This past weekend I spent time in New York City judging for The Gracie Awards. The Gracies, presented by the Alliance for Women in Media, recognizes women in media who create content that is For Women, By Women or About Women. The award recognizes accomplishments in Radio, Television, Podcasting and Streaming. It’s a great organization that supports women and their efforts to advance women in media. I am honored to be on the Board of Directors for the Foundation arm of AWM and enjoy my time judging as well as serving as a Co-Chair of the Gracies Gala and the Gracies Luncheon.
It's because of this work, along with having a wife and two daughters in media, that I have a heightened awareness of the struggles of women in general, but particularly in media. The red light on my mental dashboard started flashing when I recently saw the results of an annual gender study that shows that women are only marginally better off in radio programming than they were when I started decades ago.
Last week the organization known as Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio released the 2022 results of their gender study, which they have done annually since 2000. The study monitors the growth of female professionals in radio. It tracks the progress of women in the Market Manager/General Manager, Director of Sales/Sales Manager and Brand Manager/Program Director positions. Women continue to maintain their numbers in the Market Manager position. They’re showing the most growth in the Sales arena.
Unfortunately, they lag significantly behind their male counterparts in Programming.
The Market Manager position remains flat at 20.65%. The study noted that this position has shown consistent growth since 2004 when 14.9% of all managers were women. The sales leadership role is where the greatest number of women work. Among all stations 33.45% of Sales Managers are female. That number is even bigger in the Top-100 markets at 38.05%.
Programming continues to be dominated by men. Women represent only 11.72% of all Brand Managers/Program Directors in American radio. The percentage in the Top-100 markets is only slightly better at 13.9% of all PDs. These low numbers are disappointing. Especially given the number of radio stations that target women as their core listener. Magnify that by the proven success of women in both Program Director and Corporate Programming roles and it should be an encouragement to search out strong women for the PD position.
There was a time, decades ago, when the only way for Programmers to advance their career was to move city to city, growing in market size with each move, as a way to climb the job ladder. Given society in the 70s-90s, there was a misplaced belief that these moves limited females in moving in a similar fashion. Clearly there are many examples of why that thinking was wrong and outdated then and is more so unacceptable today. It’s simply bad thinking and wrong. Especially given that in today’s world women dominate the workforce.
There is no shortage of qualified women on the content side of radio. The view of programmers needs a cultural shift and that has to start at the top of the company and with the Market Manager. Engage the team inside the programming department. Train, mentor and educate future programming candidates. Regardless of gender. Start by asking your on-air talent, promotion team members and production members what their career goals are. Give them training wheels and teach them the position.
Heed the call by MIW Board President Ruth Presslaff when she said “Historically we have celebrated modest to very modest gains. But this year we're calling out to industry leaders to recognize the leadership, creativity and dedication of women broadcasters, particularly programmers, and put them to work improving your content, your culture and your cash flow."
The study was conducted by PrecisionTrak using stats from 2022.