South-Western - Management  
Room at the Top: The Only Thing Stopping a Woman From Running a Media Conglomerate Could Be Herself
Topic Leadership
Key Words Women, glass ceiling
InfoTrac Reference A112085819
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News Story

When Geraldine Laybourne started Oxygen Media in 1998, she launched the first female-owned-and-operated TV network in the country. She points out that owning a company and being an executive are two different things. Women have made more progress as owners through developing their own enterprises than they have from working within the corporate system.

Even so, women have reached unprecedented representation in the media industry's highest offices. One reason they aren't climbing to the top of the ladder may be because they aren't interested in being the next Rupert Murdoch or Michael Eisner. Many in the media industry got into it because of interest in the creative side of the business, and aren't interested in the more administrative roles. In other words, running a studio and running a parent company are different propositions.

Women are well-represented in Hollywood's executive ranks, but still have a long way to go to reach parity at the top of the corporate hierarchy. Fortune magazine reported this year that just 8% of top executives in American business are women. Fewer than one in five board members of major media companies are women. Some feel the barriers are the result of women holding themselves back. Once they learn to recognize and accept their own potential, the barriers will disappear.

As women reach the highest positions, they are able to provide inspiration and sometimes direct assistance to other women. Barbara Boxer, senator from California, feels the White House is the final frontier for women. Once a woman is elected president, it will eliminate from the discussion that there is anything a woman can't do.

The role of male mentors has been critical to women's progress in the media industry. There is a deep bench of female talent working its way up through ranks that makes industry insiders optimistic about women's prospects of obtaining the highest jobs in American media.


Why do you think there are so few women in top management in corporations? Explain your answer.


Make a list of the characteristics you believe to be important for a CEO of a major corporation. Now label each of these characteristics as either a male trait or a female trait. Were there more male or female traits listed? What does this activity tell you about your perceptions of males and females in management positions?


Where do you believe your attitudes about males and females in management positions come from - parents, work experiences? How might your attitudes affect your ability to climb the corporate ladder? To work with opposite sex managers? To manage employees of the opposite sex?

Source "Room at the Top: The Only Thing Stopping a Woman From Running a Media Conglomerate Could Be Herself,"Hollywood Reporter, Dec. 6, 2003, p. 11.
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