WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Women account for about half of the overall U.S. workforce, but the number of female executives remains low, even in a seemingly liberal-minded industry like communications, the Annenberg Public Policy Center reported Tuesday.
The finding may come as a surprise to many, given the ever-increasing number of beautifully coiffed television presenters and on-air reporters in the news business. Even financial news, which would seem a male bastion of dry market news, is often given the softer touch with an eye-pleasing and often youngish commentator who then goes on to become a personality in her own right in the financial world.
To be sure, the fairer sex does slightly better in the media and publishing sectors, compared to say on Wall Street as a stockbroker or investment banker. Yet, women are more likely to be doing well in the lower levels of media outlets, but fall behind men in executive positions for news and television production who actually run the show.
Of the seven major commercial broadcast television and cable networks, women account for only 32 percent of news executives. Meanwhile, the center reported that of the 120 smaller networks nationwide, only 16 percent of presidents and chief executives were female. The situation was worse in the print media, where only 14 percent of the 1,450 daily newspapers had female publishers.
There were also some companies with no women board members listed in their latest annual report including The Washington Post, formerly headed by Katherine Graham, and now led by her son, Donald.
Finding that women, and indeed other minorities (though women actually make up slightly more than half of the overall population), continue to hit glass ceiling is, of course, far from surprising. Nor is the fact that women usually get paid a fraction less compared to their male counterparts in the same job a major finding.
For all the sexual equality rhetoric in the United States, the fact remains that there are very few female executives in blue-chip companies, or women in higher political office. Indeed, Scandinavian countries, particularly Sweden and Norway, continue to outperform the United States in terms of equal opportunities, and ironically, socially conservative nations such as Pakistan and India have produced female leaders while there has yet to be a woman leading the United States.
Still, the need for a more balanced approach to presenting news, including having a wider perspective on approaching current events, is stronger than ever, according to the policy center.
"With corporate governance under the microscope and stock exchange listing requirements tightening, boards are making an effort to increase the number of independent members," said Susan Ness, Annenberg's director of information and a former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission.
Yet Ness cautioned against positive discrimination, and simply having more women in top spots just for the sake of it.
"They should not be chosen solely to add diversity. Women are ready with the expertise, the commitment, and the talent to provide shareholders and management with knowledgeable and dedicated service," she added.