Woman films a group of other women

Disparity in the Male-Dominated Media Industry Drives Women to Create Spaces for Themselves

Disparity in the Male-Dominated Media Industry Drives Women to Create Spaces for Themselves

While on the hunt for summer internships, I began looking into different publications in the Austin area and stumbled across Austin Woman Magazine. Upon seeing that they weren’t offering any summer positions, I was ready to move on and continue my search, but I was captivated by a set of articles under a tab entitled “empower.” 

Their articles covered a broad range of topics from finance and social justice, to health and music. A publication with broad interests is nothing unexpected, but what was different was that each piece centered on and was written by a woman. 

When scrolling through the news or watching your favorite news channel, if you look closely, you will notice that while women are present in the coverage their stories are few and far between compared to the abundance of coverage about and catered to men. Austin Woman Magazine was a far cry from the male-dominated media I was used to consuming, each story detailing a women's experience. 

Looking into newsrooms across the country, it is easy to see that one reason women remain underrepresented in the news is because the people leading the majority of news organizations and deciding who is covered are men. Women make up half the world’s population yet, according to the Harvard Business Review, they are the subject of a story only a quarter of the time. 

Researchers from AKA consulting found that only 39% of journalists and 26% of newsroom leaders worldwide are women. Many top-ranked newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are run by men. 

This disparity isn’t unique to journalism. It’s present in every field of media. Of the top 100 radio show hosts, only 12 are women. Of the top podcasts 79% are hosted by men. 

“For a very long time, I was one of few women in the room, and certainly one of the few women of color in the room,” said Cy White, the managing editor of Austin Woman Magazine. 

The magazine aims to inspire, celebrate and support the diverse community of women in Austin and surrounding cities. The 19-year-old publication produces content to showcase culture, highlight up-and-coming individuals and cover all things Austin through the eyes of women who live here. 

“It’s truly been about finding women in all sectors, in all walks of life, who have the same sort of ambition and dreams to ensure that women are given a fair shake,” said White.

White, who has worked at the magazine since 2020, said that before working for a women-run publication, her voice often felt inconsequential or secondary compared to her male peers. 

In its early years, the publication focused heavily on women in business but as the publication nears its 20th anniversary, its range has broadened to highlight women of all career paths. Austin Woman honors women with food, travel and fashion pieces, and regularly holds events like its annual Woman’s Way Business Awards

“You feel a level of comfort when you’re around people that share your same vision, but also your same struggle,” she said. 

As a journalism student set to enter the industry soon, it’s reassuring that, while I plan to advocate for better representation in the newsroom, women-run publications will be a space for my voice to be heard. 

Best said in a recent article about women being left out of the news, “If women’s knowledge, experience and perspectives aren't fully reflected by the media, that fundamental inequality is more likely to persist.” 

When any group is underrepresented in the news, the public is given a half-painted picture that does not accurately represent their experiences. In such a male-dominated industry, it’s important for there to be a space that actively works to minimize disparity by supporting women in the industry and giving them a platform. Women-run publications that create content by women are monumental in paving the way towards equality in the industry. 

Other publications across the country such as The Lily and The 19th News, are working to build communities to support female writers and leaders. 

You can find more women-run publications here, here and here!