Promote Women: Use Your Network to Solve the Byline Gap
Yesterday, we reported on new numbers showing that the media world is overwhelmingly male, and it's getting even maler. The trend isn't new—data shows that female representation in journalism, television, and film has either held steady or declined since 1998. The sheer endurance of this problem can make gender equality seem hopeless.
Then we remembered this: Recently, a female GOOD staffer was commiserating with a male journalist about the dearth of female bylines in major American magazines. She suggested a solution: He should speak to the editors of these magazines—people he knows personally—about how awesome she is. She was on the phone with a highly regarded editor within a week, discussing the possibilities for freelance work.
Reading big statistics, it's easy to place yourself in a bystander role. You acknowledge that women are underrepresented in your industry—particularly if you work in media, design, or tech. You know that they are far less visible, and probably paid less, than men of equal experience. You're frustrated at how difficult it sometimes seems to fill your workplace or panel discussion with enough women. But what have you ever done about it?
It’s time to stop lamenting and start doing. Here's how:
1 Think of three women in your industry who are underpaid, underemployed, or under-noticed. Women who are rising through the ranks more slowly than their male peers. Women who are really great at what they do but haven’t been recognized as up-and-comers yet.
2 Think of three powerful people (of any gender) in your industry who you know personally and who are in a position to hire or assign to women.
3 Compose an email to each of those powerful people individually and recommend a specific woman they should meet, hire, or otherwise work with.
4 Email those women and tell them you’ve recommended them. We haven't provided a form email by design—a genuine, original email is what counts.
Put your email where your mouth is. Use your network. Endorse women today. Then boost the signal. Women, share your stories about infiltrating male professional networks. Facilitators, submit your own accounts of giving women a leg up. Submit your stories to GOOD's Tumblr, on Twitter with the #promotewomen hashtag, or in the comments below. We'll compile your stories and publish them as inspiration.
We have the power to end the gender gap. Take five minutes and send three emails to do something about it.
Thanks to Rachel Sklar for her help in formulating this idea.