I was disappointed in a recent article in B&C (Broadcasting and Cable) magazine. In the July 11, 2011 issue, the feature article was “Women in the Game” (pp. 8-16). The message of the article was that “the TV sports business is hardly an old boys’ network. Meet the women making big plays behind the scenes.”
That is exactly what the article chronicles – women behind the scenes. It includes highlights about the careers of:
Karen Brodkin – Senior VP, Business and Legal Affairs – Fox Cable Networks
April Carty-Sipp – Senior VP, Creative Services – Comcast Sports Group
Teresa Chillianis – General Manager – Cablevision MSG Varsity
Christine Godleski– COO – WNBA
Debra Honkus – CEO – NEP Broadcasting
Jodi Markley – Senior VP, Operations – ESPN
Lorie McCarthy – Senior VP, General Sales Manager – Turner Sports
Deborah Montiel – VP, Marketing – GolTV
Rebecca Schulte – Senior VP and General Manager – Comcast Mid-Atlantic
Suzanne Smith – Producer/Director – CBS Sports
Molly Solomon – Coordinating Producer – NBC Olympics and Talent Development
Melinda Witmer – Executive VP and Chief Video and Content Officer – Time Warner Cable
I am thrilled at these stories. I am elated that these women have broken the glass ceiling in one of the most difficult business contexts that exists in the world.
But, why not include women in front of the scene? For years, women have filled the role of sideline reporters. But, now look at Pam Ward, who calls play-by-play for college football and basketball for ESPN. Or Doris Burke, who is a prime analyst for men and women contents in college basketball for ESPN and ABC. There are others. I can’t include them all. But, on the sidelines we have seen Pam Oliver for FOX, Andrea Kremer for NBC, Lesley Visser for CBS and ABC, Suzy Kolber and Michele Tofoya for ESPN, among many others.
The one that I am the proudest of is Erin Andrews from ESPN. She has remained resilient in the face of an awful, invading peephole video expose by a cowardly stalker, shot through a keyhole of her hotel room. In spite of the negative publicity and occasional “cat-calls” from fans in the stands, she has continued to do her job. She covers football, baseball, basketball, and other sports, and has not flinched from any of the pressure created by the negative incident. She asks tough questions and seeks out stories. She even now hosts a weekly college football show with Andre Ware that airs on ESPN, and is featured on College Game Day every Saturday morning.
I refuse to watch the peephole video. It is widely available on the internet for free. Not that she isn’t attractive – she’s actually beautiful. I just think that if she wants to show us her body, she should be the one who decides to do it. The uninvited and imposing stalker who invaded her privacy has no right to show us anything about Erin Andrews that Erin Andrews does not want us to see. Make no mistake – I will look at her if she makes herself available. But, notice that in that case, she would have decided to feature herself. That’s the only way that I am going to participate as a viewer.
But, Erin Andrews is not about looks. She does her job. She does it well. There are other women who do this work well. We should see more articles about “Women in the Game” who are in front of the scene, not just behind it.
In September at the First Friday Book Synopsis, I will feature a book about ESPN. It is called These Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN. It’s not all about guys, and I will have some content from Erin Andrews. I hope that someday soon she will write her own book.
What do you think? Let’s talk about it.
Cheryl offers: Last week SMU Executive Education hosted the introductory session for their new women’s program, Women in Motion. The session was attended by high level women in consulting, telecommunications, IT sales, accounting, law and others. The title of the session was a reference to the book, Through the Labyrinth, by Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli. The activities were clearly linked to the book; I know, I’ve read it. The reference to the labyrinth certainly seems a lot more plausible today than the old glass ceiling. The idea of a labyrinth has been around since ancient mythology and conveys the idea of a complex journey with a goal worth achieving. As Eagly and Carli point out “Passage through a labyrinth is not simple or direct, but requires persistence, awareness of one’s progress, and a careful analysis of the puzzles that lie ahead.” This seems to be much more the case for women contemplating successful careers today in any field, private or public, corporate or entrepreneurial. The really attractive part of referring to a woman’s career success as a labyrinth to me is the fact that a labyrinth offers the true possibility of success, whereas the old glass ceiling seemed to indicate being trapped forever hungering for a world that can only be seen, never acquired. We’ve come a long way baby!