How Three Washington Women Made Their Way in Media

Being a woman in the media is hard. Being a successful and empowered woman in media is even harder–but that did not stop CNN reporter Hadas Gold, Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri, or NPR Morning Edition producer Ashley Westerman from pursuing their dreams.

On Tuesday night, the three participated in a “Work in Progress: Women in Media” panel moderated by Heather Moran, Sixth & I’s Executive Director.

After brief introductions, Moran asked each of the panelists how they deal with getting yelled at on the job. Like the other panelists, Petri agreed that yelling is common in a newsroom environment–but she disclosed that often times instead of taking it to heart immediately, she considered the other side.

Petri asked, “Are people yelling at me because they like to yell or because I actually did something wrong?” She noted that in her experience people tend to yell because they like yelling.

The panel also discussed gender income equality, diversity and how the #MeToo movement has played itself out in their respective media workplaces. On gender income equality, all three panelists and Moran urged women to speak up and fight for the salaries they deserve. Gold suggested that instead of directly asking, it can be useful to reach out to a mentor or colleague and ask for advice about salaries and negotiations.

When it comes to office diversity, Westerman openly addressed NPR’s struggle to achieve higher levels of diversity. She also noted that “It is a systemic problem in media.” Hiring more women and people of color will undoubtedly have a tremendous impact on the industry–and having women and people of color in power is what will truly make the difference she described.

“Being a woman, especially a woman of color, in the newsroom, means that you have an extra burden,” Westerman said. “They trusted a woman of color to do something in the newsroom and it’s a lot to hold.”

While speaking about the #MeToo movement, Gold disclosed that as a female reporter, it is not uncommon  for people that she is interviewing to flirt with her–but she has learned how to deal with it properly and professionally. Petri noted that the last thing she hopes comes from the movement is closed-door male-only meetings to avoid accusations from females in the workplace.

“Women bring so much to the room,” Petri said. “I hope people see that women convey value.”

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