A panel of five prominent journalists came together on Saturday, March 11 to examine a subject all too familiar to them– the ever-changing role of women in the media. The panel, sponsored by Arkansas Press Women and the Arkansas Society of Professional Journalists, featured women from a wide range of backgrounds in mass media. Nationally-recognized radio and print journalist from the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network Ibby Caputo gave the keynote speech.
Caputo stressed the importance of negotiation in bridging the gap of gender inequality in a professional setting.
“We live in a day and age where a lot of women work, which means the gender pay gap isn’t only affecting women, it’s affecting families,” Caputo said. “In Arkansas, as a whole, women make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes.”
In order to combat the disparity between genders, Caputo said women must utilize their inherent negotiation skills both inside and outside of the workplace.
“The first thing you need to know about negotiation is that you’re already doing it. All the time,” Caputo said. “Negotiation skills are the most underdeveloped and underutilized skills we have access to as humans.”
Caputo said that while bias and discrimination play a large part in the gender pay gap, the negative stigma surrounding female negotiators serves as a deterrent to women seeking equal pay for equal work.
“There’s societal pressure for women to not seem too assertive,” Caputo said. “Women are seen as significantly less likable when they negotiate. That’s because when women negotiate they violate stereotypes.”
Joining Caputo were editor Gwen Moritz of Arkansas Business, reporters Jill Bleed of the Associated Press and Raven Richard of THV11, and moderator Mariel Ruiz, the meteorologist with THV11. The panel answered questions and discussed their backgrounds as women thriving in what was traditionally known as a male-dominated industry.
“I felt that the panel’s message was overall a positive one,” said Paige Murphy, a graduate student in documentary filmmaking at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. “I think that the strength and resilience that women have shown in facing hardships should give us hope for the future.”
The women of the panel gave anecdotes from their personal experiences working in media and offered words of advice for those looking to follow in their footsteps.
“You are smarter than you think you are,” Moritz said. “If you just apply yourself to what you’re doing, you’ll figure out later how smart you are, how much you can do, and you’ll wish you would have known earlier.”
“We can negotiate our ‘fair’,” Caputo said. “That’s when real change will occur.”