A group of female leaders in public media has formed a committee to address issues of gender inequality in the executive ranks of public television and radio and is announcing a mentorship program this month.
Leading the work is Deanna Mackey, station manager of KPBS in San Diego. In a Jan. 26 announcement, she said she was inspired after speaking on a 2013 panel of four women discussing diversity in the system, led by CPB President Pat Harrison at a Public Radio Program Directors conference.
“Afterward a number of women came up to me asking how can we keep the conversation going” and whether there was leadership training for public media women, Mackey said in the announcement. “Pat encouraged me to pilot a program to provide opportunities for women.”
“When you consider the demographics of our country, the growth of women attending and graduating college and our growth as philanthropists,” Mackey added, “addressing this imbalance in our own system is not only the right thing to do, it makes good business sense.”
Mackey told Current that the committee aims to increase the number of women in general manager and c.e.o. positions within public media. For instance, only 25 percent of those jobs in public television are held by women, who make up 51 percent of the U.S. population, according to CPB and PBS figures.
One way to raise that percentage is through mentorship, Mackey said. The committee is now accepting applications for the program, which kicks off in March and will run for a minimum of six months.
Participants will communicate regularly with mentors through webinars and discussions on the group’s Facebook page, “Public Media Women in Leadership.” The committee will recommend topics of discussion each month, but participants can also work on their own issues.
Lisa Shumate, executive director and g.m. at Houston Public Media, will also coordinate a training webinar on financial literacy in public media.
Mackey said the committee is working with PBS and Greater Public, the Minneapolis-based public media consultancy, to provide content at the annual conferences to help stations increase diversity in leadership and provide tools for station staff and boards.
Helping Mackey lead the group is Jeannie Ericson, public media consultant and former Integrated Media Association director.
Committee members are: Kristin Calhoun, executive director of the Public Media Platform; Alisa Miller, c.e.o. of Public Radio International; Joyce MacDonald, v.p. of journalism, CPB; Lynne Pollard, v.p. of new media, Oregon Public Broadcasting; Consuela Steward, KPBS executive assistant; and Jennifer Strachan, independent media consultant.
Calhoun, Miller, MacDonald, Pollard and Strachan will provide the first mentorships. The application deadline is Feb. 20.
Visitors can request to join the group via its Facebook page and will be provided access and information on the initiative. In addition to applying there, interested women can also contact Steward by email or at 619-594-2782.