One of my personal passions has been finding ways to recognize and elevate the efforts of effective professional women in the radio industry. I’m not a feminist, but I recognize talent, and it frustrates me when strong talent is not recognized within its own industry or organization. I’m not suggesting promotion of women because they are women; I want opportunity for the many women who struggle for well-deserved promotions.

For the progressive industry we pretend to be, we’re not progressive enough. Why are most leadership positions within radio still male-dominated? Why are most programming positions still male-dominated? Though our industry has a much higher percentage of women in sales and sales management, their promotion to GM or market manager is embarrassingly rare.

We are not alone. Hollywood has hailed the successes of female directors such as Nancy Meyers (who has two radio people in her family), Jodie Foster, Penny Marshall and others, but Hollywood isn’t much more progressive than radio. According to a study by Martha M. Lauzen, a San Diego State professor who studies the role of women in film and TV, women directed 7 percent of the top-grossing 100 films released in 2000. (In a sample of the top 250 films, the percentage was a little higher, at 11 percent.) The U.S. Senate is more progressive than Hollywood: 14 of 100 senators are women (see
In her book The Natural Advantages of Women (Wizard Academy Press), author Michelle Miller presents scientific evidence that the female brain is considerably different from the male brain. She offers proof that women are not only “hard-wired” differently than men, but that they also have the ability to use this “wiring” to great advantage in their personal and professional lives. For instance, the tissue connecting the left and right hemispheres of the female brain is thicker and denser, meaning that women have stronger connections between left and right brain. Her evidence also indicates that women have 10 times more neuron connectors than men. The consequence is that women are more perceptive and more nurturing, and they have better intuition because they use both hemispheres. Men are typically analytical and more left-brained. The end result is that women approach management of people differently, and they approach product creation differently. It’s a mystery why the world (not just radio) does not embrace these differences and integrate them into our companies as advantages.

Since 1999, we have compiled this annual list of the Most Influential Women in Radio, recognizing women who make a difference within our industry. These women have demonstrated great leadership by forming a group (the MIWs) to make their own change by creating educational and mentoring programs. However, the list is also designed to highlight the companies that clearly support women in senior management roles. To the companies that dominate this list, we applaud you.

Let’s not stop there. We can ALL do more.

06/07/04 Radio Ink Magazine. By B. Eric Rhoads